New campaign--12-story parking on the quad

(Originally ran on March 3rd, 2003)

It was about 3 a.m. when Dr. Venison Skidmore began pounding on my apartment door. By then I'd only been asleep an hour after staying up to watch a VH-1 Behind the Music special on Lionel Ritchie.

I groggily pulled the door open and beheld my mentor, standing in the doorway with a frazzled look one would usually associate with dementia or Sen. Jesse Helms.

I peered at him through squinted eyes. "How do you know where I live?"

He brushed past me hastily and sat down on my couch. Still somewhat dazed, I closed my door and staggered into a chair across the room from him.

"Are the Federales after you again?" I asked.

Dr. Skidmore shook his head. "No. But I need your help."

I thought to offer him a drink, then remembered that that would require me actually rising from my chair.

"I need your bully pulpit," the doctor began. "I've got some important things to say, and the administration won't give me my voice."

"Bully pulpit?" I asked.

"Your column. Don't you write a column for The Statesman?" he inquired.

I thought about it for a second. I knew my name was Josh. I knew that I had to mail my phone bill the next day. I knew that the song in my head was by Lionel Ritchie. I felt fairly sure that I was in Logan. Ah, The Statesman.

"Yes." I replied. "I write a column for The Statesman."

"Will you put some of my policy ideas in your column?"

"Why do you need my column?" I asked.

"The administration wouldn't let me run for office," the doctor explained.

"That's because you're not a student," I said.

"I know that," the doctor replied.

"Are you even really a faculty member?" I asked.

The doctor pursed his lips. "That's irrelevant. The student elections were last Friday, and if I don't get my ideas publicized in the next few days, the public's attention will have drifted from political issues onto the usual mundane topics."

I wondered what the usual mundane topics were. Then I wondered what the political issues were.

Dr. Skidmore ignored my silence. "Years ago I was the dictator of a small Central American island nation called Winnebago. I was in office for about a half-dozen years or so, and in that time we did some stuff that I really think would help the university out."

"With all due respect, sir," I said. "I don't know if I feel very comfortable championing your political strategies with my column. The whole dictator thing is kind of a sensitive topic for some folks right now."

"Look," he continued. "I realize I've caught you at a bad time. I realize you may not feel good about this. But would you at least pass on one idea?"

I rubbed my face in my hands. "What is it?"

The doctor sat up straight with excitement. "I think we should turn the Quad into a 12-level parking garage."

Now I was awake. The doctor had to pester me for 10 minutes until I could finally stop laughing.

"It's not what you think." he cried. "Hear me out. Only six levels will be above ground. The other six will be below ground, connected to a subterranean tunnel that will empty out on 4th North."

"You can't get rid of the Quad," I laughed. "It's a university landmark."

"It's a sacred cow," he said. "Besides, my plan provides that the Quad itself remain fully intact and in place on top of the parking structure -- complete with a rotating restaurant and water slide."

I kept laughing, and the doctor waved his hands at me in disgust.

"You're just like the rest of them," he declared. "Just like those fools at the University of Utah, too."

I caught my breath for a moment. "What did you try to do there?"

He looked defensive. "I told them to convert their golf course into a go-cart track."