Monday, November 27, 2006

The sleeping in the back of the truck incident

There has been a massive cry (two comments) from the masses (probably ten people) to elaborate on how I was effectively homeless for an entire semester. Granted, this is a technology blog and we were instructed to stick to writing about technology and careers so here is how technology was included in this story: I checked the Internet each night before I slept outside to see if the temperature was going to get below freezing so I wouldn't die. Done.

My freshman year in college I pledged a fraternity at Oklahoma State. During rush it was touted as the most elite group on campus; we had won grades 72 of 75 years, best fraternity on campus 32 of 35 years, and had more Homecoming Royalty, IFC Presidents, Student Government Presidents, and more trophies for academics, athletics and community services than any other Greek house on campus. FarmHouse only pledged the best of the incoming freshman and to be asked to join was an honor. So I eagerly signed a pledge card when they offered it to me and moved into the house my first semester at OSU.

While I was being rushed a lot of credit for the success of FarmHouse was given to our summer camp style of living that no other fraternity on campus employed. When I moved into the house we all had roughly 4 to 6 people in a room that held our desks, clothes, couches, and televisions. That was it. Your room was to be viewed as an office for getting homework done and hanging out with other members and pledges but you had to sleep in "The Rack". The Rack is a room that is painted pitch black from wall to wall and is kept at a chilly 62 degrees Fahrenheit. Perfect for sleeping... if it weren't for the other thirty people that slept in the same room.

Now, for those of you that have been in a fraternity, visited a fraternity, or watched Animal House, then you know that someone is always awake and requires much less sleep than you do.
I tried to cope and I made it through an entire year of sleeping in The Rack, but there is only so much one man can handle. During that year I experienced one six foot four, two-hundred sixty pound man land squarely on my chest on accident, a water sprinkler being smuggled in and connected to a hose... then turned on, fireworks being ignited, a motorcycle being put in the rack and fired up, people talking across bunks, people yelling across the room, doors slamming as someone entered/exited The Rack, girls being spirited in or out, and at least a dozen different occasions where a pledge would forget to wake me up. So, since I was the first person up almost every morning and with a job at stake, I saved up my money and came up with a clever solution to my noisy sleep environment. A hard tonneau cover.


This was sheer genius. When my sophomore year started I started going out to the parking lot when there wasn't anybody around and slide into the bed of my truck. It really wasn't too bad since I had a mattress, a sleeping bag, four quilts, travel alarm clock, and a push light back there. To be honest, some of the best sleep I ever had was in the back of that truck. Granted, there were nights when I would park too close to our basketball court or a sorority would come by and spirit chalk our windshields in the middle of the night and I would wake up, but for the most part, I was fine. That is, until winter hit. I still remember the first frost we had that season when I awoke to find that my breath had created small icecicles just inches away from my face. Neat. At least it was until another member accidentally bumped my truck and I ended up with a face full of frost one evening. But hands down the worst experience I had sleeping in my truck was when the first serious snow hit. I'll let you do the math: one chilly fraternity boy + one solid fiberglass cover + 200 pounds of snow inches away from my nose = PANIC! I was finally able to get out after I moved a bunch of bedding over to one side and used my legs to lift the cover. After that incident, I started waking up every few hours when it snowed to tilt the snow off the cover so I could get out in the morning. Sure it was irritating having to wake up all the time but it was better than being beaned by a soccer ball while I was trying to sleep.

After one semester of sleeping in my truck I finally decided to petition the membership to let me have out-of-house membership, something that was unheard of in those days. I went before the fraternity and pleaded my case and explained that sleeping inside was killing me and that I went to the extreme to keep my membership intact while preserving my sanity/health. In an overwhelming show of support, I was allowed to move out of FarmHouse and into my own apartment, which started a whole new phase of success for me. I could finally sleep and study in a clean environment and I watched as my grades and activities went through the roof.

This period of my life gave me a huge amount of respect for workplace and home environments. Since then I've studied a lot about members of groups and how their productivity and happiness is affected by their surroundings and I've taken a lot of it to heart when I put my workspaces together. Hopefully, you'll never have to go through something like I did in order to appreciate or change your working environment.

15 Comments:

At 6:39 PM, Anonymous Friesen said...

Great success!

 
At 9:21 PM, Anonymous Nate said...

I have to wonder, Clint, was I the 6'4", 260 lb. man you referred to? I don't specifically remember that incident. Of course, we had Bru in those days, so it could have been him. I could definitely see him, in a drunken stupor, forgetting where his bed was, and instead crushing a poor, 140 lb. (in those days, I know you've been chugging the Weight Gain 4000 since then) twig such as yourself.

 
At 10:06 PM, Anonymous Freakin said...

Talk about dedication to your fraternity. You crack me up Clint.

 
At 10:27 PM, Anonymous Dan. said...

Haha, I knew you slept in your truck, but I didn't know you did it every night! Wow. That seems SOO long ago now. I had a lot of fun that first semester, but boy did we have our share of "interesting situations." I was really shocked when they started letting people live outside of the house. I mean I would have depledged (or excuse me - depinned myself I guess) no matter what, but if I would have stayed I would have most certainly been fighting with you to have out of house memership. That rack was nuts! It was fun sometimes, but just madness the rest.
Dan.

 
At 6:15 AM, Blogger Clint James said...

Nate - It wasn't you that landed on me it was Court in his heavier days. The worst part about it was he had to get a running start to land on me because I was on the top bunk.

Freak'n Eakin - You can call it dedication but my parents called it a "Sure-fire way to get pneumonia."

Dan - Yeah, that was every night. Pledgeship was a blast and despite all of those horrible/interesting situations I wish you could have stayed. I think we could have had some crazy wild times. How is Texas by the way?

 
At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still cant believe you did that but at least you learned what it ment to be a part of a brotherhood. You were dedicated. Bj

 
At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are an awesome writer. You should have a career in writing someday. Jw

 
At 3:29 PM, Blogger Clint James said...

Thanks to both of you. It did take a lot of dedication to get up in the morning and hit cold pavement in socked feet and pray each night that your pledge brothers weren't going to tape you inside of your truck bed.

 
At 7:25 PM, Anonymous Nate said...

"and pray each night that your pledge brothers weren't going to tape you inside of your truck bed."

Dammit. I can't believe Paul and I never thought of that. Or even Puckette for that matter. That woulda been hilarious.

 
At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Paul said...

Clint, you shouldn't have worried about the 200 lbs. of snow. You should have know your helpful pledge brothers would have found you in time (for your parents to identify your skinny, cold body).

 
At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Paul said...

Clint, you shouldn't have worried about the 200 lbs. of snow. You should have know your helpful pledge brothers would have found you in time (for your parents to identify your skinny, cold body).

 
At 6:18 PM, Blogger Jess said...

Found you via Facebook.
I'm living in the bay area now, good luck with your contest!
Cool things to know about the city:
1) don't call it "San Fran", everyone will know you're a tourist. It's called "the city", like how we refer to OKC as "the city"
2) don't go to Oakland
3) North Beach has the best italian food. Trattoria Contadina is my favorite place on Union and Mason
4) Learn to use the MUNI (bus lines)
5) Sea Lions on pier 31 are a good source of free entertainment
6) Buena Vista has the original irish coffee, tasty, but crowded. You'll make a lot of impromptu friends there
7) Apple store on Stockton and Market - it's gorgeous
8) SFMOMA is a great modern art musem, good eye candy
9) Good sushi is found everywhere. Binto boxes make for a cheap lunch
10) www.craigslist.org is a good place to immerse yourself in bay area culture. has job postings too!
11) www.jatbar.com is where you find honest reviews on restaurants for normal people
12) have a sweater with you at all times. the day may be warm, but the nights are a bit nippy

-Jess

 
At 2:41 PM, Blogger Clint James said...

Jess, thanks for all the advice. Hopefully I'll need it when they announce the end of the competition. What do you do in the bay area? Feel free to send me an email at clint (dot) james (at) gmail [dot] com

 
At 10:41 AM, Anonymous The Father said...

As the parent I did worry about frostbite, pledge brothers and snow harming my little guy. The one night I spent in the truck was good sleeping and the only quiet place for blocks. Being around the house that night it was humming with activity at 1:00 a.m. with no signs of slowing down. It has made for a great college story.

 
At 8:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plus there are tons of dudes in tight pants that are always looking for a sweet makeout session.

 

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