During my college years I worked at two main jobs, a college dining hall at Michigan and a campus 7-Eleven at WMU. At Michigan I was part of a crew of working- to middle-class kids who kind of resented the affluent students who didn’t have to work, but everyone who worked there was fairly motivated and aspirational and viewed it as a necessary rung on the stepladder to an intellectual or professional career. At 7-Eleven, there was a rotating set of employees, some of whom attended WMU, many of whom did not, few of whom seemed to have much ambition. The day I stopped working there at the end of undergrad and realized I wouldn’t have to support myself through bottom-tier corporate customer service any more was a happy one for me.
That’s not to say there weren’t some enjoyable aspects to the job. Friends would sometimes swing by and say hi and it was a way of feeling in touch with my fellow college students though I didn’t party (I was an opinion columnist for the student newspaper and felt I was a voice for the student body in some fashion).
One of the best was two wacky professors who would come by somewhere between 8 and midnight on occasion. One was a geography professor who did some kind of satellite observations of China and had to be at his office at night. A little bit wacky but personable, and he bought big cups of our terrible coffee. Then there was the philosopher. He would come in and buy the craziest things — 6 pints of OJ or a box of raisin bran, 4 pints of milk and a loaf of bread. I once considered taking a class from him and stopped by his office — it was pretty clear he slept in there regularly and shaved only irregularly (and badly). I would get to talking with him now and again at the store, but would just as often mistake him for a homeless man because he was so disheveled. Dude was wacky.
Tonight I worked quite late and stopped at the Blacksburg campus 7-Eleven on my way home in my full professor’s getup. I realized I had become the weird late night professor. I made sure to buy a half-gallon of milk rather than several small cartons.