Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Not Even for a Second!!

Fact: Colleges and universities are institutions of higher learning
Implied Truism: People aren't very smart when they arrive.

Fact: Students are often away from adult supervision for the first time.
Implied Truism: Teacher AND Parent? Whee.

Fact: Theft is rampant, especially towards the end of the term.
Implied Truism: Eight hours to collect 300 pop bottles, or thirty seconds to snatch a textbook and resell it for beer money. You do the math.

Here at TunaU, amongst the emails detailing work procedures, meetings and the likes, we also get police reports. Nine out of ten times, these deal with theft. If the student/victim is lucky, it was only a textbook. If the student/victim was extra stupid, it was their laptop. Incident reports generally include a description along the lines of:

Patron left their
  • textbook
  • laptop
  • leather jacket
  • PhD Dissertation
  • wallet with wads of money falling out
on the table unattended while they
  • went to the opposite side of the building for an hour
  • went to the bathroom for an hour
  • went to the cafe for an hour to eat
  • went to the stairwell to talk on their phone for an hour
  • went to the front door to pick up their pizza
and when they came back
  • it was gone.
  • it was gone.
  • it was gone.
  • it was gone.
  • it was gone.

Now, I'm not amazed that things get stolen. I'm amazed that students are dumb enough to leave them sitting around. Somehow they are under the delusion that their belongings don some sort of force field of invulnerability once their owners step away for a pee, a smoke, three phone calls and a frappacchino with whip.

It is at this point that the college steps in with a one-two punch of education and surrogate parenting. Mostly this is done with big signs on all the entrance doors reminding students not to leave their stuff unattended. Not even for a second!!

Yes, it says that.

Yesterday afternoon, I left my desk and traveled across the hall to the ladies room. I entered stall #3, thus following the unwritten rule of leaving one stall empty as a buffer. I noticed something taped to the inside of the stall door (unusual!) but couldn't read it since it was at knee-height.

Once I had assumed the position (as it were), the sign was now directly at eye-level

Do not leave your belongings unattended!
Not even for a second!!!

The warning (or helpful advice, depending on how you look at it) was accompanied by a graphic of an evil stick person (pointy eyebrows, jagged jack-o-lantern mouth, you know the drill) against the background of a brick wall. He looked like he was running away with a TV, but it was probably meant to be a laptop. Or a large textbook. Or a pizza.

As I sat there, I just couldn't believe it. Sure, it's stupid to leave valuables laying around for evil stick people to steal. But it's even stupider to place a sign of warning inside a toilet stall, at knee level, thus ensuring the readee would have to be sitting, in a compromised position, most likely in the middle of personal business just to read the damn thing.

Obviously people aren't using their brain.
Not even for a second!!

2 comments:

RiveterGirl said...

Perhaps the reason the knee-high stall reminders are used is because it's the only place that you can truly get their attention for a least one second.

I've been teaching a course at the local college here in western Colorado for 4 years and I feel like every semester I have to lower myself to their expectations more and more.

Maybe next semester instead of a syllabus, I'll just give out big spoons.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to include the scenario - left their cell phone on the table while going out to smoke a cigarette. Came back and it was gone! Oh, what now?

About the sign...the restroom stall is probably the ONE place where our patrons would read a sign. Put the sign anywhere else...and it won't get read. When we were advised to put up a sign to warn patrons about "many recent thefts," I told my supervisor we were not putting up another sign for the patrons to NOT READ. She agreed. Now we tell patrons who leave their stuff unattended to NOT leave their stuff unattended. Which brings us to..."Can I leave my stuff with you (behind the Circulation Desk) while I step out for a moment? I don't think so...