It’s funny how you can forget stories until you run into someone, but I was reminded recently about my interaction with the Dean at my college in 1999. My junior year, I was asked to undertake a covert operation – find out if classes would be cancelled the next day. The weather was going south that December evening, but the next day was a scheduled round of early morning classes and final quizzes for a lot of the guys in my fraternity. My college also NEVER cancelled for weather. The campus was small and it wasn’t a commuter school, so someone “heard” they hadn’t cancelled school since the 1970’s.
I was volunteered to call the Dean, posing as someone’s dad, to ask if school would be cancelled. Was it for my killer wit? No. My sharp mind? No. Just based on the fact I have had the deep voice of a 45 year old man since I was 15. I agreed and formulated a quick plan in my head. I would act like the dad of an off-campus student trying to make sure his son was safe. In fairness, I did stuff like this in high school. I called people’s parents posing as other parents to let them know their kid wasn’t partying.
I picked up the phone and called the Dean. He had, prior to coming to our campus, been in the CIA for 25 years. He’s even now got two published books on covert operations. Adding to the difficulty, there were about twelve people in the room with me trying not to laugh. The following is my best recollection of the conversation.
The phone was dialed, ringing directly into his house. “Hello?” “Hello, Dr. Clark, I am very sorry to bother you at home, but my name is Ken Whitmire. My son lives off-campus and we have heard a lot of nasty weather is heading that way and my wife is really concerned for his safety driving around tomorrow. I wouldn’t call, but my son won’t answer his phone. My wife thinks he’s lost power or phones; I think he’s probably getting into trouble, YOU KNOW HOW THEY ARE AT THAT AGE.” I then cut a really corny dad laugh HA HA HA HA. The Dean chimed in, “Oh to be that age again, I hear you! HA HA HA!” We had established rapport; time for phase 2.
“Well, again, I hate to call, but we didn’t know if classes were going to be cancelled – you know how women are, she’s really worried and can’t relax. (Lowers voice) It would really help me out to get her calmed down. (Back to normal voice, extra cheesy dad mode) You know how women can be when they’re worked up!” “I hear you! HA HA HA!” We both had a chuckle. Him again, “Well, I can tell you we haven’t announced anything, but we are definitely going to cancel classes tomorrow.” Me: “Well, that’s great. You really helped us out (and me HAHAHA). I appreciate that; now I guess I have keep calling my son.” “Good luck with that!” “No kidding, thanks again for your help. Have a good night!” “No problem, good night.”
I hung up the phone – the entire time the primary instigator of the incident had been pressing his face into my back to keep from laughing out loud. The room was a smattering of muffled laughs and buried faces. I shot my arms upward, “CLASS IS CANCELLED!” Cheers erupted from the group and beers were cracked. Another beer run was scheduled and the music was cranked. Chris, the subject of the call, didn’t find out I used his dad’s name for about ten years, but he told me his parents thought it was hilarious. Part of me thinks I’m really good, but another part of me realizes he saw through my idiocy and just was cool with us getting hammered on a Tuesday. Either way, fortune favors the bold.