Friday, August 31, 2012

Life lessons

Like the swallows of Capistrano they have returned, lugging their overstuffed suitcases and footlockers, blocking streets with double-parked moving vans and prompting bursts of loud profanity and blaring horns from the long lines of vehicles trying to get around them. Ahhh... the sweet sounds fall. The students have returned. To a cabbie, it marks the end of a long and plodding summer, the end of scrapping over the handful of tourists and the end of hours spent sweltering on a cabstand. The frenzy of activity, the noise, the bursts of anger and car horns... is the sound of money. The college students have returned.

To mark the occassion the local TV stations have sent out squadrons of television vans to Harvard Square to do what I assume will be their annual fluff piece on the migration. They have lined up battalion-like, taking over one of the taxi stands in the middle of the square.

A middle-aged man and what I assume is his son hop in the car. They need to go to a Target store in Somerville to get junior some furniture for his dorm room.

"What's all this for," Dad asks, pointing to the TV trucks.

"Uh, there was a big cheating scandal," son answers insouciantly. "One hundred and twenty-five kids, all in the same class."

"No kidding?" Dad says. "What was the class?"

"Government 1310."

"And what's that?"

"Introduction to Congress," the boy answers sullenly.

"You gotta be kidding me!" Dad shouts in laughter. "How prophetic is that? Maybe they should all get extra credit! Do you know anybody in the class."

"Sure, both my roommates were in that class."

"Were they in on it?"

"No. The school sent letters to all the suspected cheaters. They didn't get the letter."

"How did the cheaters get caught?"

"It was a take-home exam and they all worked on it together. Apparently some turned in blue books in which the answers to a question were the same verbatim."

"Wow. You think if you're smart enought to get into Harvard you'd be smart enough not to cheat off someone elses's test by copying it word-for-word."

"Dad, these weren't the best and brightest. The class was a gut. Most of the football team was in the class."

"Oh, boy. There goes the season for the Crimson."

"I suppose," the boy answers glumly.

"Well there's a bright side to this, son. It looks like there'll be a lot dorm rooms opening up. Keep your eyes open!"