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The Grunge Report

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From the Director of Alumni Affairs

The Grunge Report

The Sunday morning after our impressive wins over Hanover in soccer and Washington University in football, I went to Mass (a weekly ritual) and Menard’s (becoming a weekly ritual) to pick up supplies for a full day of projects around the house. I ran into an older couple in the paint section, we exchanged greetings, and I moved on. A few minutes later, this couple rounded the corner in another section of the store.

“We must be shopping for the same things,” I said.

Then the couple paid Wabash the ultimate compliment, in a Holiday-Inn-Express-commercial sort of way.

The gentleman said, “I noticed your shirt has Wabash College printed on it. Did you go to Wabash?”

I proudly answered that I, in fact, did go to Wabash. He told me he thought it was a great school and that I should be very proud. I answered that I was, in fact, very proud. (I decided not to mention that I had graduated near the bottom of my class—they really didn’t need to know that!)

The gentlemen continued: “Do you mind if I ask you a question?”

At this point I assumed a question about the Campaign, our football team, admissions, a college for men, financial aid, etc. I said I’d be happy to help in any way I could.

“Great!” he said, “How do you think I should go about cutting some asbestos shingles on my house? I need to make room for a new window.”

Of all the questions I was prepared to answer and have answered during my time at Wabash, I can tell you this is the first asbestos one. No kidding. The clothes I was wearing didn’t look like I worked at Menard’s—their employees don’t wear a standard color or style. But I just answered the best way I could. I told him that any material with asbestos in it is a serious health hazard and, if I were in his shoes, I’d consider having a trained professional do all of the cutting. I further added that if he had to retain the asbestos siding, I recommended he have it sealed in some way so that the fibers can’t escape. I finished with something like a caution for him to stay as far away from that stuff as possible.

We talked a little more and he reinforced his earlier comments about Wabash being a great school, with a reputation for graduating outstanding, talented men. He figured that since I went to Wabash, I would have some helpful advice, even when it came to asbestos siding! Wabash College meant something very special to him. And this happened in a Menard’s in Lafayette, Indiana where there must have been 10 people wearing something that said “Purdue” on it!

We exchanged goodbyes and I walked away with a real grin on my face. This gentleman may not have been able to explain the liberal arts concept or tell others what the mission statement of our College is. But that day, he certainly complimented us on the finished product! Talk about proud . . .

Tom Runge ’70

Director of Alumni Affairs

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