How to Blow Out a Candle with Your Mind

Author: Liz Pinnie

I’d like you to take a moment and look closely at the above photo.  Closer.  Good.  Your eyes are going to immediately lock in on the graduates.  You’re wondering to yourself, “Self, what am I supposed to be seeing here?  That Penn grads have fantastically soft hair?  That the man in the background with the red jacket is actually Dana Carvey?” No, and sorry, no.  I actually would like you to check out the top right corner of the photo, in the Google search box.  Yep- the search box that reads: “How to blow out a candle with mind.”

This, my friends, is a screen shot of my computer at work.  However, the little gem in the corner was not a product of my curious mind, but rather that of one of our work study students.  You see, the front desk is to be covered at all times, and since I am convinced that I have a mild form of restless leg syndrome (and also like to take a break for lunch), I am lucky enough to have work study students who can cover for me.

Because I’m new, my interaction with, and knowledge about, Penn students is pretty much limited to the unique bunch of work study students that we have in the office.  In an homage to the Communications Department at Penn and their article on The Penn Quaker,  lets call these students Puce, Lavender, Ecru, Apricot, Ochre, and Azure.**

Puce is known for his impressive silver polishing talent and for drinking a weird “blue drink” that he finds somewhere on campus (which makes me nervous for his health).  Lavender always has a bonkers healthy lunch creations (can you say carrot pie?) and keeps us informed on sweet new movies.  Azure is the keeper of the yearbooks and our master scanner.  Ecru loves passing along stories of crazy sorority antics and is pretty consistently reading something in Spanish.  Apricot has a thing for all items pink and is forever bouncing in or out of the office listening to one of her ten thousand songs on her I-Pod.  Ochre is our resident historian/creator of traditions.  He is also able to answer all of our burning questions about milk production and what probiotic yogurt actually is (note: it’s as healthy as it sounds).

Between the six of them, the front desk is always covered, the Franklin Building is always informed, and the office staff is always kept up to speed on what’s cool on the college scene these days (ugh.  I just felt very un-cool writing that sentence.  I’m embarrassed).

Regardless of my coolness or un-coolness, the point is this: our work study students are stellar.  They are also “Quirky” with a capital “Q.”  As evidenced by the photo above, I never know what I will find when I return to my desk.  Traditional reminders of their presence are problem sets left on the computer and half eaten boxes of French fries in the trash can.  However, there are the special days when I return to find essays in German, a thorough examination of the Ben Franklin statue being completed, or Google searches for “how handkerchiefs became tissues.”

And let me tell you this— in a word that can sometimes get dull, I treasure these odd and open displays of curiosity and vigor from our fantastic students.  So, Puce, Lavender, Ecru, Apricot, Ochre, and Azure: thanks for everything you do, and keep that little bit of curiosity spliced with crazy coming because it makes my day.

**The color assigned to each student has nothing to do with the actual student.  For example, Lavender does not have a penchant for herbal flowers and tea, and Ochre is not dull.

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4 Comments

Filed under Liz P., Student Perspective

4 responses to “How to Blow Out a Candle with Your Mind

  1. Puce

    Love it! And the contents of the drink shall never be revealed…but you should probably be concerned about my health.

  2. Trina

    I loved this post! I’ll admit that I work in Sweeten and have an opportunity to work with these students as well, I am even more impressed by they intelligence and “quirky-ness”. Gotta” love the workstudys!

  3. Casey

    This story made me guffaw. I love that Penn students aren’t just brilliant, but have so much personality to succeed.

  4. Pingback: Locust Walk Talk: Penn Alumni Volunteer Leadership Retreat | Frankly Penn

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