This summer I was strolling, bleary-eyed, across campus on my way to get hopped up on caffeine when I saw a bunch of shirtless young men driving bob-cats (by which I do not mean anything in the cougar family) and ripping the
shit heck out of the shrubbery between the library and the cafeteria.
I was outraged.
How dare the university engage in any landscaping without first consulting with me? Seriously. Something had gone seriously wrong within the chain of command in my view. I was perfectly happy with shrubbery, and it seemed fairly appalling to me that when we (by which I mean the university) were having to cut teaching positions, we had enough cash to hire all those shirtless young men to dig up bushes and lay sod. Let’s face it, I had just suffered through the faculty strike with days – nay, weeks! – of playing Tetris, which made me, I think, pretty entitled to get frothy over gardening. I worked myself up into a right lather. Who could I talk to, I wondered. Someone was going to get a stern talking to, ensuring, I hoped, that they would never again make such a decision without consulting with, you know, me.
In deepest, hottest August, the freshly laid sod was watered excessively. Undoubtedly this was so it didn’t, you know, shrivel and die, something I was sorely tempted to do in the four days of heat that stampeded into mid-August with the subtlety of a baseball bat, but all that I was thinking as I huffed, back-pack laden, around campus was that this sure seemed like a waste of precious water resources to me, and once again VIU had absolutely failed to check with me about anything.
Was it too much to ask that Ralph, or whoever was in charge of these things, send me a tentatively questioning email before embarking on such projects?
Dear Kyla, it should read, we’re thinking about re-landscaping the common area. We think grass would be more welcoming than shrubbery. What are your thoughts? Or: Kyla, should we water the lawn? Or: Kyla, do you think we should hire more shirtless young men to do gardening in the sun?
I would give these emails due consideration. No, no, and yes, yes I do. But as the emails did not arrive, I stumped around feeling small and pinch-faced, awash with my own unimportance. In a small and pinch-faced way, I looked forward to September, when all the rest of the students would return to campus and – I couldn’t wait – would become over-whelmed with moral outrage over the new grass in front of the cafeteria. Our collective voice would ensure that in the future no decision would be made without consultation with, well, me. It would be super.
But then September rolled around. All that watered grass looked… well… good. Inviting, even. I decided to sit on it, just to, you know, conduct research about why it was so bad. There were a lot of other people sitting on the grass: young, cheerful men, sporting an over-abundance of baseball caps and happy women in Lulu Lemon hoodies. I picked a few of them up and moved them out of the way, and then I sat down. Hmm.
Clearly this grass was going to take even more research, and I have made it my mission to sit on it almost every day. I sit on it with friends. We stretch out and talk about classes. We let the sun shine on our faces, or bundle up against the wind, or lay our jackets on the grass before we sit down so our trousers do not get wet from the dew.
I’m still thinking about composing some emails about just how wrong the university was to rip out shrubs and put in grass. I think about this every time it’s not raining out and the common area is awash with people, sitting on the new grass, chatting and drinking coffee. That was really … wrong … because … But that’s as far as I get in my mental composition. I just need to move some people out of the way so I can sit down too, and then I’ll go back to that email…