A new journal entry by Karl.
September 16, 2011
So I’ve decided to keep writing, even if nobody is listening to me, cause I think it might help me cope with how weird college is. Again, if you happen to be named Autumn Bartlett and if you’re missing a copy of The Book Thief, I have it. I thought about giving it to the lost-and-found, but I’ll explain why I didn’t do that later. Also again, if you have any advice for an English Major at NAU about how to do college and not get buried in a flaming stack of papers about post-colonial transcendentalist communes in the Yucatan or whatever, please leave a comment and I’ll love you forever. Even if it’s bad advice it’s probably better than what I’m doing now.
I need to tell you why I didn’t put the book in the lost-and-found in the library, and it kinda ties into why I suck at doing college, and it’s kind of a long story, so bear with me. I was in my dorm room reading The Tempest by William Shakespeare for that post-colonial class with Dr. Corddry. Apparently, Shakespeare got involved in the whole post-colonial scene, or at least that’s what Dr. Corddrey made it sound like. I wasn’t paying that much attention when he talked about it. I was too distracted by his shining bald head. Anyway, I was in my dorm reading Shakespeare and then it starts to smell like burned popcorn. In Cowden, it always smells like burned popcorn, because everybody burns their popcorn as a general rule, but then the fire alarm went off. Some Honors jerk was too busy playing concertos and curing cancer to pay attention to his popcorn, which I guess caught fire in the kitchen down the hall.
Anyway, we all had to leave as part of regulation or something. Our RA, Harington, forced us out. Harington is cool dude, I guess, but I think he’s pretty lenient with the booze and the pot in his hall. I think he has connections to the drug dealers, but I don’t wanna assume anything. Anyway, he led us away from the flaming Honors popcorn, we waited around in front of Cowden for a while, and then we all went back in. But then I saw an mp3 in the little cubicle space between the two sets of doors in Cowden that keep people in and keep people out (cause you need a card to get into the second door, and when you don’t have it, you just kinda wait around in this cubicle thing between the first and second doorways until somebody comes and lets you in, and usually they glare at you for ten minutes or something when they do). I picked it up and Harington and I looked at it for a minute.
“Should I give it to the lost-and-found?” I asked him.
“I wouldn’t trust them if I were you.”
“They take things from the lost and found and trade them for other things.”
“Nobody knows who runs the whole thing,” Harington said, “but it starts with the janitors, or some of them at least, and then the students who work at the Union get involved, Student Life, Campus Dining, Housing, and from there it just kinda goes up rank by rank.”
“What are you talking about?” I really had no idea what he meant at the time.
“The lost-and-found people. They keep tabs on every lost-and-found item that anybody puts in a box, and they barter them off to people who have the right connections. But you have to barter the really good stuff, or else just use jacks, queens, and kings.”
“I still don’t get it.”
He took the mp3 and said he knew who owned it, and then told me that jacks are individual drinks (like a bottle of beer, a shot of whiskey), queens were six-packs of good beer or twelve-packs of the cheap kind, or a bottle of whiskey, or something along those lines, and that kings were individual joints. I don’t know what aces might have been, but if they were more than pot, I could only imagine what they were. I went back to my room, and the next day I looked for the lost-and-found boxes in Cowden and asked the front office if anything valuable ever went missing from them.
“Nope,” he said. I think his name was Donner or something. “Never. People come back for their stuff.”
“Do people ever trade things for stuff in the lost-and-found?”
“What, like an underground network of lost-and-found people who keep tabs on every item ever put into the lost-and-found boxes? That’s crazy.”
I thought it was crazy, too, but I didn’t want to let Autumn’s book get bartered off for a bottle of beer, so I asked this guy in my Honors class, Eddie, if he knew anything about it. Eddie is a guy who knows his way around campus, and he’s only a freshman. He just has those kinds of connections, I guess. He told me that it was true, and that he traded a bottle of vodka for a two water bottles and an iPod. I didn’t think that those were worth a bottle of vodka, but he had lost his iPod earlier that week and later found it in some chick’s purse at a party, who apparently traded a six-pack of good beer for it just because it had every song by the Rolling Stones on it.
So that’s what I learned about NAU’s secret underground lost-and-found people, and that’s why I didn’t put Autumn’s book in any lost-and-found box. Not that I think anybody would trade alcohol for a book, but it’s the principle that kinda scares me a bit. I guess it’s how the secret economy here works. Now I keep looking at the people who clean things in the Union like they’re watching me, waiting for me to drop something so they can swipe it and barter it off for something else.
If I ever wanted to get some cool crap, I can just ask Harington or Eddie to hook me up. But I’m not. I still really suck at college, especially socializing. So many English Majors I’ve met are all over the place, going to parties and poetry slams and hanging out at coffee shops talking smack at the man or whatever it is that poets do these days (I really have no clue). You know how much I’m terrible at socializing? Today is my birthday, and I spent it in the library watching the janitors wander back and forth in front of me. And then I did homework, reading about symbolism and metaphors. I still suck at college, and my backpack still smells like cinnamon apple crisps or something from Autumn’s perfume. I hope I learn get better. I hope I don’t get caught up in some sleazy business with the RAs or the lost-and-found people. And I’m still hoping I’ll understand what Shakespeare has to do with colonization.
That’s my story. Good luck with whatever you have to deal with, and wish me luck, too.