Budget Cuts


Returning to Luzerne Hall to begin another year of college. Junior year to be precise. I dreaded this moment all summer long and now I was living it. Uncertainty stoked the flames of my worry engine. How could I handle working with new staff members, taking 18 credits, being in a new student government leadership position and graduate on time? Preparing for student move-in week with my staff distracted me from thoughts. I spent my rare moments of solitude in the lobby. Sitting behind the large granite desk in the lobby felt familiar and completely alien. I think it was the nostalgia of the previous year clashing with the current year.

Fifteen minutes pasted and my GHD (supervisor) along with a few other staff members clustered around the front desk. I’m not sure how, but suddenly I noticed our tall desk trash can was missing.

“Hey Max, do you know where the desk trash can is?”

Max scrunched his thick eyebrows together in deep consideration, “Hmmm…. I didn’t know we had a desk trash can? Maybe it was removed for some reason?”

Of course. It always comes down to money. I unconsciously looked down to former spot of the missing waste basket, took a shallow breath, and muttered “budget cuts.” There was a tangible change in atmosphere when my gaze returned upward. Everyone was now staring at me in disgust.

Shit, did I just accidentally violate a social norm again? What? I just wanted to know where the trash can was!? STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT!

Max eventually broke the silence, “Barry………..what did you just say?”

“Um, I said ‘do you know where the desk trash can is?’”

Frustration seeped on the corners of Max’s face, “No. I mean after that.”

This is very strange, why am I suddenly on trial?!

“I said ‘budget cuts’, since they probably removed the trash can to save money.”

The tension in the lobby began to deflate. Max’s facial expressions slowly eased up too, “Oh. Good. That’s not what we thought you said haha…”

That’s absurd! What bad thing could “budget cuts” possible be misinterpreted for?!

“… It sounded like you said bunch of c*nts.”

Oh. That would be bad. – Barry


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