Since its inception, the Safety Shuttle at Goshen College has occupied a tense space, perceived by some to be integral to campus safety, and by others, integral to the destruction of campus values.For some of us, it’s a heroic student-led initiative to protect our brothers and sisters from hypothermia, assault or getting hit by a train; for some of us it’s a donation-killing, student-led initiative meant to undermine Christian values and drag campus into the murky depths of debauchery and liberal hedonism. As a comical provocateur, this tension makes for excellent Funnies material!
’Twas a dark and stormy night the Saturday I signed up to be a Safety Shuttle driver. My rationale was three-fold: I love my fellow students unconditionally, Uber has yet to arrive in Goshen and I wanted to be as cool as Zach Zimmerman. Despite being a staunch supporter of the enterprise, I was a bit of a grouch that night and just wanted to go to sleep.
“We got a call,” my driving partner Laura said over the phone. Groaning, I rolled out of bed and walked to the car, rain pounding on my umbrella.
“Where to, Laura Boo?” I say, trying to improve morale. From the passenger seat, I see her head slowly turn towards me, giving me a look of disapproval that could make a well-watered house plant wither and die.
“Ah…yeah sorry… that was stupid,” I mumble, scratching the back of my head.
We ended up driving to the Kaizen Hibachi Grill, of all places. It was a first for the both of us so we had to circle around the building a few times till we saw our rider.
Out of the shadowy public phone booth emerged a soaking wet young man in nothing but a football helmet, shoulder pads and whitey tighties cradling what appeared to be a takeout box of sushi. Nothing could hide my puzzled look as I opened the door for him.
“Wassup dude, welcome to the Safety Shuttle! You don’t have to tell me why, but I mean… what’s with the sushi, football equipment and no pants?” I ask.
“I uh… lost a bet.” He stammered as he climbed in. “It’s called the Kaizen Heisman Challenge… I had to run all the way to the Hibachi Grill in pads and bring back sushi… But then it started raining and I got super cold… It was either that or the South Side Squeezer Challenge,” he shivered.
“I don’t even want to know.” I replied.
“Can you take me to -,” he began
“Yoder 2?” I finish.
“But how did you-,”
“Intuition.” I said.
Our next call took us to two young women who merrily skipped out to the car, laughing all the way. They were slapping each other on the knees, howling about some inside joke.
Their laughter only partially subsided as they clambered in.
“Can you take us home? It’s raining and we didn’t want to walk back,” one started.
“It’s raining cats and dogs!” the other friend shouted, cracking both of them up.
“Sure thing!” I said. “It’ll be tough though, with all these POODLES forming on the road!”
The car became silent. I chuckle nervously to myself to make up for the awkwardness of my failed pun. The amount of disapproval in the look Laura gave me made me think her head was going to roll off her shoulders.
Still no noise from the back.
I glance at the mirror. The two women were leaning forward, their faces stricken, as if processing what I just said.
Slowly, as if crescendo-ing to a predetermined beat, their two heads turned toward each other and their mouths and eyes widened. In perfect synchronization their faces morphed from shocked confusion, to understanding, to pure glee.
“POODLES!” They scream in unison. I had struck a chord; they couldn’t stop laughing all the way home.
When I finally settled under my blankets at 3 a.m., I took a deep breath. I was in a better mood now, enjoying the fact that I was warm; I had a giant cookie, a glass of milk and a Seinfeld standup queued on my laptop.
I could’ve gone to bed, but you know what?
There’s nothing better than being warm and safe, laughing, and a tad indulgent on a Saturday night.