I really wasn't involved in this special project, and why I happened by I really do not remember. But there was Joe, no relationship to Jr., hard at work. He was a complete marvel to watch. I never knew anyone that could work so hard at not working, and making the not working harder than the original job. Sound confusing, well, so was Joe and what he was doing. Actually it was more astounding than strange that he could have come up with such an ingenious plan to, well you will understand as you read on. It would have been far easier for him to have caught a fiery snowball than to pull off what he was doing, in many respects it would have made more sense, and as you well know, that is complete nonsense. Just thinking about it gives me goose bumps.
His job and task for that day was simple. Plant three dozen roses in the area that had already been individually staked out. The job was not complicated, dig, plant, fertilize, fill in, and then water. Do that thirty-six times, clean up and the job was done. Any normal idiot, now that even sounds strange, could have done it with ease. Any excess dirt was to be placed in a wheel barrel and disposed of when the job was done.
For those of you that have never planted roses it is relatively simple, dig a hole that is about 10 inches across and about the same deep. Since the roses were already prepared and ready to plant, simply place them in the hole, add a little fertilizer, there was always plenty of bull around campus, place the rose in the hole, add dirt and water....not so difficult...until Joe tackled the project.
So what was Joe doing in a hole that was more than 3 feet wide and over 4 feet deep? That's what caught my attention, I decided to investigate further. The hole was wide enough and deep enough to plant a fairly good size tree! But he wasn't planting a tree, just roses...
I should have known better than to ask him....he looked at me as if I were stupid or something. He went on to explain rather than digging 36 holes and having to cart off the excess dirt each time, he was simply digging one hole 3 feet wide and 4 feet deep. He could haul the dirt off once and then as he dug the other holes, he planned to throw the excess dirt into the larger hole....amazing, simply amazing! I thanked him for the information, actually I was thankful I did not have to account or explain to some minister what and why Joe was doing what he was doing. I quietly and I might add hastily left before what he was doing was discovered. It would have been plain stupid on my part to have either tried to reason with Joe or to have waited around for Herb himself to come by. He walked the campus daily. Very little got by him. If nothing else, you could say he was very watchful and proud of HIS CAMPUS. Should he find something he did not like, well, you guessed it, everyone was bound to hear about it one way or another. What Joe was about to complete, Herb would have absolutely hated.
About three hours later I happened to be near that same area of campus, I thought I would see if Joe were still alive and on the job. I was very curious about how his project was coming along. To my amazement he was still hard at it. Getting nowhere, at least according to the original plan. He had just finished the large hole, but digging the others, as he explained, was too tiring, so he placed all the roses in the one big hole nice and neat. He said since it was almost lunch time, it would be too much trouble to dig the other holes, and besides all the roses clumped together in mass looked good to him. Then he mumbled, no one will even notice the change from the original plan....that was true, until the next day when Herb happened upon the mess, I mean mass of roses. He turned red faced as usual, his cheeks started flapping, boy was he hot! I stayed my distance, I wasn't wearing my asbestos long johns and I did not want to get singed....someone was really going to get reamed for this one.
As he turned the corner, an old friend of his and a supervisor in the landscape department was there to greet him and take the abuse, oops, righteous, loving correction. As soon as Herb cooled down a bit, the supervisor had a bit of inspiration that saved his hide, he told Herb that what he saw was simply a temporary storage area for the roses and the project. When it was completed, it would make him proud, it would make all the neighbors and visitors envious...no need for additional fertilizer here...as soon as Herb left and he was actually smiling, the supervisor rounded up several men who worked all day and late into the evening getting the roses placed where they should have been in the first place. Of course they had to haul in more dirt from the opposite end of the campus to fill in Joe's big hole...but when they were done it really looked outstanding.
Joe? His situation turned out rather strange, he was given a pay raise and promoted to working on the lawn mowing crew. What happened there is a whole story in itself, perhaps for another time.
Impossible you say, surely this could not have happened....well, it did, that's what made life on campus so interesting. At times it was the bizarre that seemed to be normal. No not every day was like this, but far too many of them were.
Life on campus, you just had to love it.