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Privilege and Perambulations

R Taylor Grow

   It is 2:38 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 22, and I am sitting at the bar in Beall Avenue McDonald’s eating a McDouble that has done nothing particularly exciting for my senses. But I feel relieved.

Sometimes perambulating through campus is depressing; sometimes when it hits 2 a.m., the path to Kenarden Lodge is empty except for the streetlamps, which seem more ominous than friendly; sometimes it has just rained and everything seems to be covered with the silence of a post-drizzle moonlight; sometimes the air is chilly, and I have wrapped an oversized beige scarf around my neck for protection. In times like these, I walk through the Kauke Arch, travel down College Avenue, take the left on Bowman and cross the threshold into McDonald’s.

Perhaps I am engaging too much with my working-class privilege, but I find something fulfilling in repudiating the flex dollar and offering a real dollar bill in exchange for a sandwich — to frolic in a consumer landscape far from the privileged realm of the black and gold plastic card, the card that reminds me of an impending poverty every semester when I ask Widget Financial for the next installment of my student loan, but which seems to be the imaginary credit of this weird fairy world now glistening by the dew and moonbeams.

Studying at the College of Wooster is a privilege — we are living in what appears to be a fictive world. If I want to, I can walk outside with a water bottle full of vodka and cranberry juice in my under-21 hand because there is little consequence if it becomes apparent that there is something more forbidden within. I can spend 100 fake dollars on americanos from pseudo-Starbucks between Sept. 1 and Sept. 18 because I still have $350 waiting on my skeleton key (and, if I manage to run out mid-October, there is always a particularly conservative beneficiary that will buy my midnight quesadillas — otherwise his money mysteriously vanishes).

On the 2 a.m. walk back to Kenarden Lodge, this privilege seems particularly apparent. Walking by Kauke, realizing that most buildings are inaccessible, that there is really only one option for on-campus food, that I am being slowly ushered into my dormitory by the phantom presence of the red-lighted key card reader, I remember that there looms an administrative presence, a presence that has both given me privilege but also has separated me from the real world, the world where the physical dollar, not the COW Card, rules. Add the silence and the solitude and the cold-faced buildings to match the cold 2 a.m. air, and, like the scarf I have donned to protect my tender neck, I look toward something familiar to protect myself from this uncanny and all of the anxieties it provokes. So I cut across campus, walk down to McDonald’s, and with a dollar bill, reenter a more familiar world. I encourage everyone to do the same.

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