"It's the People, Stupid!"
By: Chris Curran
Why the Building Might Change, but TUC Remains
Phone: (513) 556-1806
I think I started missing TUC the day I noticed the bells had stopped working. No wonder I've been late to so many classes and meetings this quarter! The chiding chiming that hurried me on my way had ceased.
What else would disappear with TUC's closing? The silence offered time for thought.
I'll admit my first thoughts were thoughts of food. You'll have to forgive me. Writing on an empty stomach made it impossible not to focus first on the food of TUC. From the double cheeseburgers at McDonald's to the great soups of Mr. Jim's, crossing campus often meant a quick detour through TUC for a late lunch or survival snack. How many flavors of frozen yogurt have I enjoyed over the years? "Too many!" said my hips. "Too few!" my stomach countered.
There were staff outings to the Strader Room years ago. Somehow, I always felt too pedestrian to eat in such elegant surroundings. The Rhine Room was a much better fit for my blue-collar blood. Not surprisingly, my three daughters and husband agreed. They joined me regularly to feast on the fresh-from-the-oven pizza, super hoagies and the best bargain of all - the small taco salads - with everything please, with everything!
The most important reason for visiting the Rhine Room, of course, was Claire Crawford. I always hoped to discover the secret to her endless energy after raising 11 children and working at an age when most have long since retired. I've worked at UC since 1988, and I can honestly say I never saw Claire appear tired, angry and frustrated, even during the midday rush.
Ah, my thoughts turn away from food to people. Yes, that's the secret to remembering TUC. It's the people.
How many packages and presents have I sent through the TUC Post Office? How many holidays and family celebrations were represented? Ann, who worked behind the counter for years, always shared in the happiness those packages represented, even while struggling to ship off my oversized parcels.
The Great Hall was the scene of celebrating our great faculty each May. What an honor to meet these scholars and teachers, so committed to their disciplines and to their students. But the most special celebration came the day I watched Kirti Ghia pay tribute to his dear wife Urmila. He was receiving the George Barbour Award, but the greater honor was the respect and love he showed for his wife, singling her out for her contributions and devotion. I cried. I admit it. But it's a memory worth sharing…people worth remembering.
The Bowlwinkles certainly make the list of my favorite TUC people: Boris, Natasha (that's me!), Rocky and Bowlwinkle himself. We were one of the many teams who competed in the weekly UC employees bowling league. I bowled my first 200 game on lanes 5 and 6 of the TUC Game Room. But even my best wasn't good enough. Those pharmacists always seemed to end up on top!
Last weekend, my 13-year-old daughter bowled a 125 on the TUC alleys using an old nine-pound ball. She normally bowls well under 100. I saved the score sheet, complete with its logo of the TUC clock. How could such a simple event be so important to me? She was using my very first bowling ball, a Brunswick Bantam I lovingly shined and cleaned and carried a mile to the alleys when I was her age.
Watching her, I remembered the time I bowled an 8. Nothing but gutter balls except for one beautiful roll that knocked down eight pins at once.
With patience and practice (30 years of practice), I overcame my frustrations and finally cracked the magic 200 mark at TUC. Today, my daughter is learning patience, practice and overcoming frustration. Simple, but important lessons. I'm very glad I saved that score sheet now.
I saw many other families sharing special moments at TUC this weekend. Some were families of friends. Some were actually related. It didn't matter. Everyone seemed to understand that TUC is much more than a building. It represents a community, and this community can never be destroyed by a wrecking ball or implosion.
The TUC bells are ringing again. The chimes were repaired, and I actually made it to class on time last week. Construction crews will work to keep power flowing to the bells and the clock while the renovations take place.
The clock won't be able to tell us when MainStreet will open…when TUC will be reborn…but it can help us remember a most timely lesson. TUC can never really be closed if our hearts remain open to the people who made it so special.