An Open Letter To Boston-Area College Students

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Dear College Student,

Hello! Welcome back! I know you’ve been back in town for a couple of weeks already, but I’ve only just now forced myself to face the reality that summer is over.

It’s not that I love summer so much. After all, my own young children don’t have school, which means they spend a lot of time jumping on my throat. But other than that, summers around here are really just … peaceful. Us sad old non-college-student-people do lots of boring things, such as gardening and hiking in the Fells and trying to find an area beach not littered with cigarette butts.

But inevitably, the temperature starts to drop and the moving vans converge and suddenly you guys are back. Happens every year.

Given that we’re going to have to spend the next nine months with each other, off and on, I’d like to make a few requests on behalf of my fellow full-time residents. Please consider them part of a broader effort to bring “town” into harmony with “gown.”

1. Please Don’t Drive. Anywhere.

I realize this sounds unreasonable, but let me break it down a little bit. First: chances are you live on a college campus, which provides for nearly all your material and social needs. Second: you live in a city with good, relatively cheap public transportation. Third: while you guys are (of course) young and immortal, the rest of us are not. We can be seriously injured or killed by another car, particularly if it is driven by someone with a shaky sense of Boston’s unique traffic patterns, and chemically impaired judgment.

2. Remember that Your Life Isn’t that Interesting

I know it seems interesting. Like, super interesting. But you have to believe me: it’s not. And I can tell you this because I’ve heard literally hundreds of your discussions, nearly all of which revolve around some mean thing Megan did to Ashley, or how drunk Matt got at the Pour House. And that’s really only interesting (and then just barely) if you know Megan and Ashley and Matt, which we don’t. So…

3. Maybe Bring the Volume Down a Little

Because whether you realize it or not, you guys talk super loud in public places. This is part of how you convince yourselves that you have interesting things to say, and also how you attract attention. And it may work in a college setting. But for the rest of us, it’s just histrionic noise pollution. Which brings us to this…

4. Put on More Clothing

To be blunt: much of the resentment aimed at you by bitter natives (such as myself) boils down to jealousy. You are young and vibrant. We are old and tired. So the least you can do when you head off-campus is to show some sartorial modesty. We don’t need the humiliation of seeing your bodies, or the temptation.

5. Deactivate Your iCrack

I keep mentioning the age difference between us because being from different generations these days is a lot like being from different planets. And while we do have smart phones and tablets and ear buds on Planet Old, we generally try to detach from them more than once an hour. Like: before bounding into a crosswalk, or smashing into someone with a grocery cart.

6. Try to Avoid Vomiting on Public Sidewalks

Not sure I need to expand on this, so let’s move on to my final plea.

7. Remember That Some of Us Have Jobs

This can be easy to overlook when the beer’s flowing and the stereo system is blaring and you’re trying to hook up with each other. But we really do. We have mean bosses and lousy dental plans and limited options, given the economy. And this means that we need to spend our nocturnal hours doing loser stuff like sleeping. I know this seems kind of pathetic from where you’re at, but this is how our lives function.

And believe it or not, someday your life will function this way, too. So please bear this in mind as you consider these entreaties.

Thanks for your, like, total consideration.

Steve Almond

This program aired on September 11, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.