Enter the women's restroom on the second floor, and one of the two paper towel dispensers. I'm in my fourth year of grad school, and the dispenser on the left has been finnicky the entire time. It would jam and you'd either have to stick your hand inside to get anything out, or you'd have to just use the one on the right. It did this at least once a week, and while okay, it'd start working again within a day or two because maintenance or the janitorial staff or somebody would mess with it, it would invariably jam again.
Four years. Four fucking years.
I started sending emails about it in the spring semester, like in March or so. I sent a few over the summer. And finally, I snapped on Monday and sent another the the same gal I'd been in correspondence with. I didn't mean to come across as huffy, but I think I kind of did:
I realize this is probably a stretch, but that same paper towel dispenser is once again malfunctioning. Is it possible for it to get replaced, rather than tinkered with? Or is there someone I could appeal to in order to try and make that happen? This thing keeps messing up every week, and I'm sure the staff fixing it is tired of doing that, just as much as we patrons of that restroom are tired of it not working.
She informed me it was forwarded to someone else (and there were two names Ccd on her response), and I got an email Wednesday morning (at the top of a chain I hadn't been in the loop on) saying it had been replaced. Ladies and Gentlemen, my I present to you the Gabrielle ____ Memorial Paper Towel Dispenser:
Who did that? I did that, bitches!
Honestly, I don't know why I feel so fucking awesome about it, but I do.
And here's the thing. It may be small, but I do know that paper towel dispenser pissed a lot of women off. And I know they'll at least be glad it's there. Yeah, they'll probably wonder why the new one is there, and just assume the janitors/maintenance finally had had enough and, in all likelihood, not even consider the possibility that it took a total of thirteen emails (twenty if you count the ones I sent months and months ago).
And I guess I see this as symbolic of life, and how I live. I may be a pushover and get walked over a lot, but I'm an advocate. I try to change things. It's why I was on student government as an undergrad and ended up on a first-name basis with the president of Whitman (he wrote me rec letters, yay), why I worked in special ed, why I was on my departments graduate student government, why I research what I research, why I want to move to Seattle and work for a nonprofit, and why I write this blog. Some of those things may seem more efficacious than others, and I recognize the truth to that.
But I get sad when people think they can't make a difference, why bother. There's that saying, though, "You can't change the world, but you can make a dent." And I want my life to be full of dents, and I want other people to realize that if they make dents, too, all those dents combined will result in something amazing.
|Lots of dents|
But I still retain this wide-eyed, naive hope that I can make a real dent. Even if it's small.
And I still try to make minuscule ones every day. By doing nice things for other people, whether it's helping someone get their bike onto the rack on the bus (Wednesday) or buying lunch for a stressed out friend (today) or helping people I love like family through some hard times (ongoing). Maybe those aren't going to change the world, but those dents? They matter, even if for only the moment they're happening (bike lady), to the people involved. Call it paying it forward, if you will- maybe the random people I help, or the friends I help, will do it, too.
And all those dents combined would make a pretty shiny world.