Steve Rodriguez ’77

Steve Rodriguez ’77

I really enjoyed my four years of CMC dorm life. My first two years were spent in Fawcett Hall, the next two in Berger. Many great memories. However, there is…

I really enjoyed my four years of CMC dorm life. My first two years were spent in Fawcett Hall, the next two in Berger. Many great memories. However, there is one in particular I consider special because it represents a major benefit of dorm life.

I recall an early December night during first semester of my senior year. I was down in the dumps for a couple reasons, the major one being a struggle to complete my senior thesis. The research was done, but my writing lacked a semblance of order. That evening, while sitting in my dorm room, I happened to speak on the phone with a friend from Pomona College. I shared my thesis frustration with her. Upon hanging up, I continued to sit and mope.

Fortunately, this brief pity party was interrupted by my always jovial Berger Hall next door neighbor—Craig McClure (class of 78). He barged into my room, and advised me to get a jacket. He then grabbed a couple other sons ofBerger from down the hallway, and declared it study break time! We got in his car without asking too many questions.

He ended up driving us to Mount Baldy Village. A storm had recently passed through the area, so there was plenty of snow on the side of the road. We eventually pulled over, got out of the car, and experienced the brisk mountain air.

McClure threw the first snowball, and before I knew it, the four of us were playing in like a bunch of third graders, tossing snowballs at each other as if we didn’t have a care in the world. Pure unadulterated fun. In between snowball tosses, we paused to admire the beauty of the elevated scene—the dark trees, the cold, and the clear, starry sky.

We eventually headed back down to campus, but not without a stop at the infamous Midway on Foothill Boulevard—CMC’s favorite dive bar. We enjoyed a pitcher of beer, avoiding any discussion of academic-related topics. One member of our group was not yet of drinking age, but such concerns seldom posed a problem at the Midway.
Once back at CMC—and in a much better mood—I called it a night, putting off any more schoolwork for the next day. In the ensuing days I got my act together regarding my senior thesis. Everything became very understandable and easy to organize. I turned in the project with time to spare. I never did ask my dorm neighbor why he chose that certain moment to take a study break. In retrospect, I assumed he overheard my phone call that night and sensed the level of frustration. The dorm walls were thin, and we often kept our doors and windows open. Under such living circumstances, it was hard to keep any secrets. I figured he was astute and kind enough to step in and help clear my head. Such is the value of living in close quarters with dorm mates who bother to care.  Sure, I would have completed my thesis without the snowballs or the pitcher of beer. But that well-timed study break helped speed up my thought process by clearing away much unnecessary frustration.

To this day, I value the importance of temporarily stepping away from work to re-charge my batteries. And I still appreciate how an observant neighbor can intervene to cheer up a colleague with a simple but fun gesture.

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