I don’t know how I did it, but I survived a 3-year-long career as a Resident Assistant. I got out alive with a degree and some seriously crazy memories. Last week I got a little sappy (sorry, it had to be done!) and this week I’m talking about the real apocalypse. This is my crazy RA life and yes, these are all true stories!
Now that December 21st, 2012 has passed and we can all happily move on knowing that the world didn’t end, I think it’s time to share my experience with the real-life apocalypse that occured last year. Forget 2012! I think the Earth really had it out for 2011, because with the exception of hurricane Sandy, it was certainly more apocalyptic in nature. Well, at least it felt that way to me (and the rest of the RAs at my school…)
Shake, Rattle and Roll
The apocalypse of 2011 didn’t even wait for school to properly start before it unleashed its wrath on our campus, and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time. It was during RA training, in an activity called “Behind Closed Doors” where we act out very serious, difficult-to-handle scenarios for new RAs to confront. It gets really emotional, and often times people cry or get really frustrated. Perfect timing for an earthquake, right?
In the middle of a heated (but pretend) staff argument with an overwhelmed new hire at a loss, we started shaking, literally. It felt like the walls and the floor were vibrating around us. Suddenly, we heard commotion in the hallway and the RD overseeing our group told us to evacuate. Yay!
So, we headed outside into the August humidity and then came the fun part – get everyone else out of the buildings. Luckily the only people on campus were orientation leaders, fall athletes, and fellow RAs, but we still had to run around yelling for people to come out of their rooms and stay away from buildings and trees (realistically impossible since our campus basically is a forest…)
Stressful as it was, we managed and survived part 1 of the RApocalypse without injuries, though some of the buildings and trees didn’t fare as well as we did.
But wait! There’s more…
Rock Me Like a Hurricane
And we thought the earthquake was bad! Only days later, just after all of the freshmen had moved in (giving them enough time to befriend all the older athletes) came the next mini apocalypse. We knew a hurricane was on the way and we had a meeting to discuss procedure, but nothing could prepare us for the insanity that was Irene.
The school essentially shut down preemptively, forcing returning students to either get permission to move in early, or stay off campus – for most, it was the latter. Classes were canceled for the upcoming Monday and Tuesday. The dining hall shut down and planned instead to deliver pre-packaged meals to the dorm lounges. RAs (who were still in training!) got the responsibility of toting around flashlights and walkie talkies, just in case.
Needless to say, it was bound to be a good time.
Did I mention I was on duty that night? (It’s always me, isn’t it?)
During the calm before the storm, with what little free time we had during RA training, I attempted to take a shower before things got bad. I literally got undressed and walked into my bathroom, shut the door behind me and in an instant, the power went out – so much for that! (Ugh.)
When the power didn’t come back on immediately and I saw lightning outside, I panicked. I quickly threw on clothes and went out into the hallway where the emergency lights still worked. I called my RD and checked on my residents. My staff spent the next hour or so in our RD’s apartment with candles (the only place they were allowed!) waiting for news that the power would return and finally, it did.
And then, another RA and I spent the rest of the night on duty braving the rain and praying for the storm to be over.
Oh, you thought that was all? That’s cute. You should know me by now – I’m not that lucky!
On our first set of rounds we happened upon very loud music, which we would’ve ignored had somebody not swung the door to the offending suite open, exposing the world of booze and brand new freshmen within.
I will spare you the details of the confrontation, but I will say this: it resulted in a lot of unhappy soccer players, an arrested resident, an incident report that took over 2 hours to write (note: they usually take about 15-30 minutes for the bigger situations!) and the fun part: we also had to write witness statements.
Yeah, it was that bad.
Hold on…The apocalypse didn’t end there!
Dreaming of a White…Halloween?
For dramatic effect, let’s just say I spent the next month-and-a-half licking my wounds from the previous mini apocalypses – okay, I didn’t, but it was still traumatizing – when finally Halloween was right around the corner. I had planned my costume for months and I was really excited for my first 21-and-up Halloween.
Word got out that it was supposed to snow, and boy, did it ever.
That Friday night was wasted on desk duty (but I still wore a costume just to be festive) and when I awoke the next morning, everything was white. Everything. And, oh, guess what? No power.
I spent the day making rounds through my building checking on residents, giving them updates (my personal favorite, 30 minutes before dark: “The dining hall is only serving food while it’s still light out, so go get dinner while you can!” – seriously, fail) and in general just freaking out.
When I did attempt to go get food, there was none. So, my boyfriend and I tried to order Chinese at 5 pm (Note: we didn’t get it until 11 pm!)
I spent the rest of the day/night in the hallway (again, emergency lights) with my residents, playing board games and worrying about starving to death, finding missing RAs, and drunk people slipping on the ice.
It was a good night (not!)
The next day, bright and early, the ResLife staff met in the nearest dorm lounge where it was announced that students should go home, and if they couldn’t, everyone left would be staying in the gym at another nearby school-turned-shelter. One RD who was headed to New York offered to drive me and my boyfriend into the city so we could catch a train home to Connecticut – the catch: we had 15 minutes to pack.
We quickly packed enough clothes for one day/night, our laptops, keys, and left.
Great, except campus was closed for a week…
Psh, and the Mayans thought they were scary.