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Oh Heli, Oh Heli, Copter!

Of all sad words to hear when anyone working in Higher Education picks up the telephone, the saddest are these: My daughter is a freshman.

Your Humble Blogger works in a library of a University. My first call yesterday morning began with a woman saying my daughter is a freshman; I should have stood in bed. It seems that the young student had been having trouble connecting to the wireless network in the library.

Note: there is no reason to believe that the student in question had been in the library, much less attempted to connect to the wireless network, but that’s the story her mother got, and no student lies to her mother.

I assured the concerned parent that there is indeed a wireless network in the library, and that any student who was having trouble connecting to it should go to the IT help desk, which is staffed by students hired and trained by the IT people. If the student has any more problems, or can’t find the IT help desk, she can come by the circulation desk, said YHB, and we’ll help out.

That’s great, said the parent on the other end of the telephone wire. Can you call my daughter on her cell phone and tell her that? YHB did not say the hell? but something like I’m sorry or I beg your pardon, hoping to indicate some sense of the silliness of the request. It’ll be a mitzvah, said the parent. Nu? A mitvah, now, to call on shabbos? Go figure! YHB did not reply.

In fact, I did call and leave a message on the poor young woman’s mobile, telling her that her mother was having some difficulty with our wireless and that she could come in and get assistance with it at any time. Thank the Divine that she wasn’t answering her phone; we are undoubtedly both mortified enough.

But have you guessed the really tragic part? The tragic part is that in eleven years, if I’m really lucky, my Perfect Non-Reader will be a freshman.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


You so totally should have left the message on the voice-mail "This is the University of Hartford Library. Your mother called us; please call her back".

Please let her not be in my class...

Oh, yes, indeed. My last job but one sometimes involved answering a help phone line for one particular system, and my guess is that half the calls I got were from parents. It's inconceivable to me -- my parents would never have dreamed of doing such a thing (back 20 years ago when I was a freshman, speaking of inconceivable).

I guess this stuff goes in cycles and perhaps by the time my kids are freshman most parents will believe (as I do) that the kids are better off doing things on their own. Or perhaps I'll have changed completely and become just as hovering, although if I haven't done it as my daughter goes off to kindergarten at 4, I will hopefully not do it when she goes to college at 17.

But I really just don't get it.

Are you sure the mother in question wasn't trying to set her daughter up with a nice librarian? Yeah, okay, not so much. But it's funny!

Okay, not so much.

Fran's message was the way to go, though, that much is clear.


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