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Priem, Betsy (ed.) / Wisconsin engineer
Volume 88, No. 5 (July, 1984)

Tobias, Richard
The dorm zone,   pp. 9-11


Page 9


The Dorm Zone
by Richard Tobias
Rob was a typical guy. Sure, he'd
heard of all the advantages of going to
school and living at home. Low cost,
family there when you need them, and
let's not forget the dog waiting at the
door with his tail wagging every day
when Rob returned from a hard day at
school. But Rob wanted more. So, off
went the applications to U.W. Madi-
son. What Rob didn't know was that he
was about to enter a fifth dimension
beyond that which is known to man. A
place untouched by time, space, or san-
ity. He was about to enter . . . The
Dorm Zone.
  Possessions were carefully packed
three weeks in advance. He didn't want
to forget anything. Beer mugs, Ha-
waiian party shirt, dart gun and
"heavy metal" tapes were all thought-
fully thrown into a box and packed into
the family station wagon. When the
car approached the Zone, it joined
                      Graphic by Alicia Diehl
hundreds of others anxious to unload
their cargo at the limited number of
"loading docks". After riding around
the block six or seven times, a parking
place becomes available and the car is
swarmed by creatures in red t-shirts
bearing the words U-Who on their
backs. (I think that that's Y-O-U Who
in standard English, but don't forget,
Rob has entered the Dorm Zone and
college-level brilliance lurks every-
where.) These U-Who people gracious-
ly offer to carry a box or two upstairs.
Rob accepts their offer, but takes the
box carrying the Rush tapes himself.
  It's time to meet the manager of
Rob's floor, the house fellow. And what
an intelligent fellow he seems to be! He
knows everything there is to know
about the dorms-how to get meal
tickets, laundry tickets, and how to
hand out medical and other informa-
tion cards that Rob must fill out and
hand in that evening. It sure is nice to
find someone so interested in whether
Rob wears contact lenses or what drugs
he takes on a regular basis ("prescrip-
tion" the housefellow explains). The
housefellow is always there to keep
things under control and to pound on
your door at 8:30 a.m. to make sure you
haven't slept through the third false
fire alarm that cold January morning.
Rob wonders where his roommate is.
Check in time was at 1:00 and he still
hasn't arrived. The housefellow ex-
plains that that's because overseas
flights are sometimes delayed.
  The fun of meeting people (and des-
perately trying to remember their
names for more than a minute) begins
the first afternoon at the mandatory
house meeting. It's hard to imagine
that by the end of the year the fifty
some faces will be all too familiar. The
people on the floor seem to eventually
fit into special groups. Rob meets the
weight lifter, a 200 lb. hulk whose
main reason for attending college
seems to be to find as many occasions
as possible to remove his shirt and flex
his stuff. Then there's the religious
fanatic whose ears pop up in math
class every time he hears the word
"conversion". Rob never knew that
around-the-clock card playing and TV
watching could be such a rewarding
academic past time. The University
While he had been in another
room, a bunch of guys moved
all of Paul's belongings into
the bathroom. He spent the
night perched over three
toilet stalls.
awards a 1.3 grade point average to
those who partake. And then there is
the hall disc jockey. He's kind enough
to create a sense of floor unity by daily
letting the whole floor simultaneously
experience 100 watts of Iron Maiden.
Just the opposite of Mr. D.J. are the
"Mysterious Ones". These are the peo-
ple that live next to you all year, but
Wisconsin Engineer, July 1984
9


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