TAB GRAD says… It's Lord of the Flies Time Now

Being a young, strapping, increasingly handsome graduate has its perks, but at some points it seems your place in society puts you in rather unusual moral quandaries. Take for example, […]

Being a young, strapping, increasingly handsome graduate has its perks, but at some points it seems your place in society puts you in rather unusual moral quandaries.

Take for example, a situation I encountered the other weekend. On catching a bus out from town, I aided an elderly woman with her shopping up the step or two, for which she promptly told anyone in earshot it was “nice to see polite young men still exist.” This Samaritan-esque act I did not think twice about and nor would many.

Waiting for my return journey, I suddenly got the feeling I might be the victim of some high-concept prank show. Casually sat down reading a magazine, for the next twenty minutes until the bus arrived the area slowly filled with pensioners. I had given up my seat and perched on some railings, then given up the railings and stood, burying my head into the screen of my phone as best I could. With a sickening feeling I felt solely responsible for the welfare of these pensioners, and their bags of shopping. What if I didn’t offer assistance to one particular pensioner, who so happened to collapse while getting on the bus? I might get blunted to death with a walking stick.

And then the situation was made even more tense. A single mother and her three children, a pushchair, two suitcases and far too much shopping. Magazines and cans of food kept falling to the floor; the kids running around and screaming. As we swelled towards the entrance of the bus, two pensioners stepped out of the line, each grabbing a suitcase to take onto the bus.

My face reddened. How dare I? Let some seventy year old woman pick up the suitcase and struggle it onto the bus, while I stand there, miserly, checking my emails. Well, I wasn’t to be outdone. I grabbed both suitcases with a mumbled “I’ve got this”, chucked them into the bus then looked back, like Jesus looking out to five thousand starving faces.

Needless to say, I wasn’t going to be the unofficial busboy with no fee, so I ran upstairs and sat at the back, as far away as I could get from the potentially violent situation. The bus pulled off within a couple of minutes and for a second I realised there may have been a few stray cats that didn’t make it on board. That, we’ll never know.

Pensioners, especially those of ailing minds, are quite similar to these new freshers that are blocking every checkout, bar and toilet now they’ve settled in. Pesky, eager, but naive enough to think the U1A has Mary-Poppins-bag qualities, or Asda staff won’t ask for ID.

There’s an almost pack aspect to life as a freshers, especially in the first term. I recall on my first night, trying to find the way from Wessex Lane up to the students’ union. A group of us – fifteen or so guys and girls a fair few drinks in to the night – had no idea where to go, until one guy stepped forward and led the way. Behind him we yelled obscenities, banter, jealous of his newfound leadership. Ultimately we reached our destination, where he was then turned away for not having his student ID. Survival of the fittest – we left him to find his own way back.

Yet being a more senior individual on campus means you may sometimes be faced with similar moral decisions as I was in the opening anecdote. Is it your responsibility to help every single person you see lost, confused, or making out with the wall at Jesters?

Sometimes you just have to resist being the good guy/girl and let the freshers find out these things themselves. We’ve all arrived to a lecture red-faced and puffing after running around a single building, desperately trying to locate the correct room. It’s Freshers 101.

And, over time, they will learn. Learn their way, their limits, their own path to success at university. Much like living in the wild (or the cast of Lost), they adapt, survive, thrive.

Much like those pensioners at the bus stop are probably okay, the first years will get to grips with it all soon enough. Let them be, and when the opportunity arises, make some jokes at their expense. It’s only right.