It was a first-time-in-my-life experience on a recent Sunday in the student dining hall at Rollins College.
My wife Sally Luther and I usually park our car in a handicapped parking space two hours prior to the Bach Festival concerts, which we regularly attend. We used to arrive just in time for the concerts but found the parking spaces near the performance sites were already taken, except for one or two motorcycle parking spaces. However, Sally who is 95, (I’m 3 years her junior), doesn’t trust me with a motorcycle and so we use an automobile.
At any rate, our early arrival at Rollins gives us time to eat lunch or supper (depending on the concert time) at the student restaurant with its tasty meal choices. On a recent Sunday, Sally had already gone through the pay line, and when my turn came to pay the nice cashier, she would not take my credit card. When I assured her that I hadn’t yet paid, she pointed to a younger female student, who apparently had just gone through the line, and had paid for my lunch. I tried vainly to persuade the student to get a refund. She gently but firmly refused, and, after thanking her, I added that in my long life nothing like that had ever happened to me before. As it happens, I have met many students, as a professor of philosophy and as president of three colleges (or, what some students call a ‘Chief Custodian of a Higher Mental Institution’). I put down my tray next to my wife, and went looking for my generous benefactress, but unfortunately she had already left.
Sally was amused and speculated that perhaps Rollins students’ attention might be based on our antique appearance, like “refugees from a cemetery.”
What I appreciated about the student’s action was not the money, but the generous gesture to a man who looked like a student’s grandfather. Of course, Sally and I always enjoy our visits to Rollins College, with its ever-courteous students and the rich cultural programs it offers to the people of its surrounding communities. Thanks to the unexpected outreach of this unknown student, our admiration has reached a new high.
If she feels like it, I hope that the student in question will be kind enough to drop me a line, so that my wife and I could have the pleasure of at least making her acquaintance at a future time. Otherwise, I’d just continue to feel frustrated, as I did when I realized she had already left the restaurant.
P.S. On an unrelated topic, I would like to take the occasion to mention how impressed we were with the Nov. 14 Sandspur article by Jamie Pizzi ‘14, “Disenfranchised Floridians fight back.” The writer pointed out (in informative detail) how 1.5 million fellow citizens of ours in Florida have lost their voting rights and related civil rights after having been sentenced and served time in prison for felony offenses. We certainly hope that today’s college students will pay more attention than our generation to the political and social obligation to show compassion for those amongst us who have been unjustly disenfranchised, the vast majority of whom have lacked the privileges and economic advantages from which more fortunate people have benefited. I noted from the article that a group of Rollins students in Dr. Newcomb’s senior anthropology course is cooperating with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition on behalf of such mistreated citizens, illustrating what educated young people can do to improve our society.
– John J. Neumaier
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