It’s the Strange Opportunities.

“Only One Alma” is a phrase that we throw around a lot. And why shouldn’t we? There truly is only one Alma for a number of reasons.

Where else would I get the opportunity to go to England to study medieval theatre this spring? Where else would my brother be able to go to Peru to study Incan civilizations? Where else do you become this close to professors and are presented with this many opportunities?

But sometimes it’s the little things that make Alma only one Alma.┬áLike the banana I saw in line today getting pizza at Food Day. There was also someone in a gorilla suit. I hoped that they met up and ate lunch together.

But yes, there are little things that make Alma Alma, and one of those things at least for me, was that I had class at Walmart today.

There are stories that go, “It was warm today so our professor let us have class outside on the football field! It was so nice!”

My story went, “Today we had class at Walmart and we’d been planning it for about two weeks! And it was creepy.”

I’m a writer. I have to be, I’m an English major and a writing minor. I’m currently in Dr. Vivian’s Fiction Workshop, English 291, and we spend a lot of time looking at people and the stories that they can possess. Do you ever walk in Mac Mall and look at someone and instantly wonder about their life?

Maybe that’s just me.

Our assignment: we had to walk inconspicuously around Walmart and study people. We had to write a five page story about them due on Monday. We had to be discreet. And we needed to buy something small, because the last time Dr. Vivian attempted this, the class aroused suspicion and got thrown out.

This was perfect. I needed a new bottle of children’s Benadryl and some toothpaste. So after a short meeting with Dr. Vivian by the Halloween decorations, we set off alone through Walmart, trying to be discreet and basically stalking people.

I’d like to say that I was inconspicuous and nobody thought that I was a creepy writer wandering around with an Avenger’s backpack, but I probably wasn’t as discreet as I thought. I hoped I would find someone in the toy aisle where I contemplated buying a Spider-Man mask, but it was nearly deserted. I then wandered toward the electronics and all I could find were middle-aged men wandering aimlessly. I picked up some Colgate and moved to the groceries.

There I ran into an older Mennonite couple that seemed very pleased with their loot of fruit and I followed them until the woman asked me if I was looking for something. I then hid in the pharmacy to grab my Benadryl and I found what looked like a hardcore biker dude looking at eye drops. He was very interested in them. When I left the pharmacy, I ran into four people that I knew outside of my fiction class and I literally crouched behind an aisle of craft supplies to listen in on their conversations.

I eventually gave up at trying to be inconspicuous and I bought my toothpaste, my Benadryl, and a box of doughnuts. I then plopped down in front of Subway and I ate my doughnuts, watching people check out.

The most interesting person that I found while munching on my chocolate doughnuts was an older man that was wearing mascara. I’m pretty sure I’m going to write my story about him. While I was munching, a nice old lady sat down next to me, pointed at my backpack and said, “I see you like Spider-Man.”

Yes, my friends, I like Spider-Man.

I also like the opportunity to have class at Walmart. At Alma we don’t have to be defined by our academic buildings. It’s nice to escape the lecture halls and labs of Dow and the classrooms of SAC. It’s nice to meet somewhere strange, somewhere new, whether it’s Peru, England, New Zealand, or Walmart just down the road.

So if someone asks you what only one Alma means, you don’t automatically have to jump to something like, “Well we can take all of these cool spring terms and we can travel and our school is small and we get lots of individual attention from our professors.”

All of that stuff is true, and all of that stuff is wonderful. But there are also little things, like having class at Walmart, or seeing a kid in a banana suit at Saga on Halloween.

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