Enough is enough. We walk around Thomas Jefferson’s academical village daily with the audacity — no, the gall — to continually ignore the people who really matter. We let these gods amongst men go about their days with no knowledge of how important they truly are to the rest of the student body. That ends now. It’s time we acknowledge that not all heroes wear capes — some walk around with airpods, iced coffee and a dream.
To the crosswalk pioneers,
Thank you for walking into oncoming traffic without hesitation. Before you came along, I had been standing at this crosswalk, on the verge of breaking my neck as I frantically looked from side to side, looking for an opening, an opportunity to shine. You, mighty trailblazer, don’t wait for opportunities — you make them. When you walked across that street and made that green 2003 Honda Civic use the last of its horsepower to stop mere inches away from your body, I knew that I could make it to my physics class in one piece. Without you, I would stay at crosswalks forever, letting the Honda Civics of Charlottesville curb my happiness.
To the lifelong best friends,
Thank you for meeting me once during first year and deciding to hype me up whenever our paths have crossed ever since. I may not remember your name and I may forget you exist sometimes, but I will never, ever, forget your spirit. You somehow can sense when I’m having an off day and appear out of thin air to shower me with compliments. Is my outfit actually fire? Was it actually good to see me again? I don’t know, and I don’t care. It was good to see you, my dear friend. I eagerly await the next time we cross paths outside of Clemons Library at 3 a.m.
To the classroom advocates,
Thank you for verbally saying what we were asking each other through confused looks. The professor is on step 10 of 20 in this math problem and the numbers are starting to seem a little suspicious. I could’ve sworn that the 11 we are plugging into the problem was a 12. Then again, I barely know what’s happening. I turn to my friends, who point at the 12 in their notes, and we silently try to figure out if we should interrupt the professor to tell him we think he is wrong. If I interrupt him and he isn’t wrong, I’m going to feel silly, and then the whole class will see that I’m an imposter at the smart people school and I’ll have no choice but to drop out from embarrassment and live out the rest of my days in a cave somewhere in the Shenandoah Mountains! You know what — he’s probably not wrong. I’m probably wrong. I’ll just figure out what I messed up later on my own. Oh wait, the girl across the room just raised her hand and asked about the same thing. The professor was wrong! I actually have thoughts! Because of you, oh mighty voice of the people, I’ll have an ounce of confidence for the next five minutes.
To the courtesy slow walkers,
Thank you for not passing me on the sidewalk, even though it’s very obvious you want to. I know I’m not walking very fast right now, but I’m only so capable. Sometimes we just need to slow down and finish eating the protein bar we found at the bottom of our backpack before we enter that lecture hall with the sign on the door that says “No food or drink.” Sometimes we need to finish texting our best friend about how the person we made eye contact with 10 minutes ago while walking out of Newcomb Hall is clearly in love with us and it’s only a matter of time before we need to start looking for wedding venues. Sometimes, you just need to walk at a non-U.Va. student pace to feel something. I can see your sneakers out of the corner of my eye as they barely miss the back of my shoe. I can tell you’re just yearning to get past me and walk like someone who actually has their life together. But you don’t — you stay behind me and let me live in the delusion where I am also a person who has my life together. If you had passed me, oh angel of patience, you would have taken a piece of me with you and sent me into an identity crisis. But you decide to stay behind me, making me feel like I can still keep up with everyone else, inside and outside of the classroom.
That is all the praise I have to give out for now. I hope that you, too, give these model citizens the praise they deserve the next time you see them. If you happen to be one of these people — thank you. From the construction workers who always seem to appear in the most inconvenient places to the people in charge of the questionable heating and cooling regulation in lecture halls, this University would simply be in shambles without your wisdom and guidance. May your dining hall food always be scrumptious and your showers always be the perfect temperature.