It’s a beautiful day. You don’t have lecture until 11 a.m. You went to bed sometime past 3 a.m., watching old episodes of "Mad Men," courtesy of an industrious torrent session the night before fall semester. You don’t plan on waking until 10:45 a.m.
You feel a dull buzz under your cheek. (Yes, despite your mother’s laments about brain cancer, you sleep with your phone under your pillow for the Sleep Cycle app.) You groan, raise your head, groggily remove traces of nighttime salivation, shake off the dream of Don Draper cooing in your ear and retrieve your phone.
Flashing across the screen: CAMPUS SAFETY ALERT.
It is 8:17 a.m. You let out a raging scream that shakes the very foundations of your dorm.
OK, OK, I get it. I’m a horrible person. Safety is of utmost importance, security measures shouldn’t be made fun of, and neither armed robberies nor bear sightings are a joking matter.
If you think about it, we’re the lucky ones. It’s only because the marvelous town of Princeton is so safe that the University can afford to send us such highly descriptive emails about each robbery, closed road, wild animal above 3 feet tall, wild animal below 3 feet tall, banana peel at the bottom of the Frist Gallery staircase and pile of puke on the basement floor of Colonial (but really, that would be much appreciated). Can you imagine if, say, Columbia or NYU students got an email for every guy that snatched a wallet near school property? They’d be getting safety alerts almost as often as we get emails from the FreeFood listserv.
In short: Love your school, love your town.
And love Campus Safety Alerts. When you’re with friends whose ceaseless popularity keeps interrupting the conversation in the form of text messages, it’s a splendid relief to have your phone buzz as well — even if it’s just from Princeton Alert. OK, so it’s not the best message to receive on your phone. In fact, it’s inevitable that when you see the source of the vibrating, you feel the urge to roll your eyes, hastily excuse yourself and run to the nearest bathroom to weep uncontrollably over your lack of texting buddies.
Stop. And think. These emails are not only assurances of your safety; they are also perfectly exploitable as social tools.
Because, honestly, who’s going to know it's just Donald P. Reichling if you unlock the screen, skim the message, scoff scathingly and say, “Omigawd, my ex needs to stop texting me and realize that we are never, ever, ever getting back together”? No one will doubt you. It doesn’t matter that he never talked to his friends talked to your friends talked to you. Take control. Dictate the terms of your life. Use your Campus Safety Alert emails wisely. With a few words, you too can seem popular and wanted. And that, children, is all you will ever need (like, ever).
Plus, it’s genuinely nice to feel the concern. Alone on a 4:13 p.m. train to New York City for fall break, you may be suffering from an acute case of Exiting Orange Bubble Stress because of the glare you received from the woman next to you when you asked her to move her bag. Then your phone lets out a pleasant tinkle and voila, someone truly cares about whether you survive Sandy! I mean, knowing that someone cares about your life can really make or break a hurricane. When you’re cowering underneath two layers of fleece comforters after the power goes out, even the automated voice of the (609) 258-6356 lady can give you the warm-and-fuzzies.
So next time you receive an email about some road you’ve never heard of being shut down due to the sighting of a Neanderthal trying to hijack someone’s iPad with a machete, don’t sigh. Don’t bitch about it with your friend. Don’t immediately delete the message and move on with your day. Take a moment to appreciate everything Campus Safety Alerts do for you — and the fact that you have a friend with whom you can bitch about it. I don’t.