Monday, January 10, 2011

Welcome to State College!

Hello there, and welcome to State College! If you're new here, that means you're probably a student. If you're not a student, then you're most likely a new professor, or just took a job at one of the local businesses. If you are either or these, congratulations on your recent accomplishments.

Now, here is what you need to know about living in Happy Valley in 11 easy-to-understand parts. Pay close attention, especially if you're a student.

1. The borough does not belong to you.

This may come as a shock to many of you, but you don't own State College. In the off-chance that your last name also happens to be found on a street sign, like Atherton or Allen, it does not belong do you. If somebody comes to your hometown and treats it like their personal footstool, chances are it would piss you off. So don't do it here.

2. Nobody wants to listen to your shitty music.

Are you a Rush fan? Maybe you are, maybe you're not. I'm a huge Rush fan, myself. But I realize that not everybody likes Rush. Because of this, I keep my stereo down when I'm driving, especially at intersections, and you should do the same. Besides, Jay-Z, Britney Spears, Mudvayne, or whatever the hell they're passing off as music these days sucks. As a matter of fact, there's not a word in the known Universe to describe how shitty their music is. So do us all a favor and turn your stereo down. Nobody is impressed because you were stupid enough to spend $10,000 on a stereo system in your car. Blasting P. Diddy doesn't make you look cool, it just makes you look like a dick.

3. Put your cell phone away.

If something is so important that you absolutely must talk about it, then one would think that the conversation would take place in any other place than a checkout line or pulling out in front of a moving semi. You have no idea how maddening it is to have to suffer fools who talk on their cell phones at the checkout line at Wegman's, a movie theater, walking through the middle of Allen and College when traffic has a green light, or even on a bicycle. If a conversation is of utmost importance, then take the call outside or at the very least, away from everyone else as they try to get through their busy day with as little interruption as possible.

4. Put your iPod away.

I love music as much as the next guy, but if your iPod begins to distract you from oncoming traffic and places life in jeopardy, it's time to leave it at home. Besides, chances are that sooner or later your iPod will be stolen. So leave your iPod at home.

5. Learn how to drive.

If you take up two lanes...
If you are tailing others for more than a mile and you have the option to pass them...
If you are intoxicated...
If you are drinking an alcoholic beverage...
If you are eating...
If you have a pet in your lap...
If you travel well above or below the posted speed limit...
If you see no difference between a parking lot and Talladega International Speedway...
If you are texting...
If you are applying make-up...
If you are reading...
If you are dancing...
If you change lanes in an intersection...
If you are from Virginia...
If you are from Ohio...
If you are from New York...
If you are from New Jersey (especially, New Jersey)...

...and you're driving, it's time to re-take your learner's permit. If you do/are any of the above, stop driving before you get somebody killed (especially if you're from New Jersey).

And if you take up two spaces in a parking spot, you can expect to find a nasty-gram under your wiper blade. If you do, you have no right or reason to be shocked, outraged, or even slightly surprised. You should be glad that I didn't use a key to scribe into your hood how much of an asshole you really are.

Also, when you come to an intersection in State College, chances are it will have a solid white line just before you enter that intersection. This line means STOP. Do not cross this white line. It is there for your safety and to allow the free flow of opposing traffic while you're waiting for a green light. If a bus or tractor trailer turns and you're in the way because you crossed any of these white lines, I'm going to scoot up so you can't back up, and I'll laugh at your stupid ass as the opposing traffic yells and gives you the finger.

One final word on driving. It is winter, and I see waaaaaaaaaay too many cars, particularly students (especially from New Jersey), that still have snow on them while they're driving. If this sounds like you, then chances are you are probably need to invest in a ice scraper. And if you do have an ice scraper, clearing a small hole in your front and back windshield do not qualify as having a car cleared of snow. In some places driving around with snow and ice on your windshield gets a stiff fine. So, bear the cold, get off your lazy ass, and completely clear your car of snow before somebody dies.

6. When at the local grocery stores, be mindful of others.

Store aisles are only about 6-feet wide. Most grocery carts are around 3-feet wide. Depending on how you stand, you could be taking up to 2 feet of space. So, if you're in a store:

Walk directly behind your cart. Do not deviate.
Do not drag your cart. The handle is located at the rear of the cart for a reason.
Do not walk beside your cart. You're only impeding the free flow of traffic.
If you have to buy more groceries than one cart can hold, then make two trips instead of dragging one cart in front of you while pushing another.
Do not park your cart on one side of the aisle while standing in the middle or the other side of the aisle. Again, you're only impeding traffic.
Do not use your cell phone if you're in the checkout line. It's extremely rude to others around you because it shows how little regard you have for them. However, if you need to call home to ask if there's anything that you may need, this is perfectly acceptable, provided that you are still shopping.
Do not leave your cart in the middle of an aisle unattended. If you do, I will move your cart to the opposite end of the store, then watch in amusement as you look for your now-lost cart.
If you see a familiar face and wish to talk to them, move to their side of the aisle to allow the free flow of traffic and keep your conversation brief.

7. Clean up after yourself.

How many times do people have to tell you, clean up after yourself -- your mother doesn't work here?

I'm by no means Mr. Clean, but show some courtesy toward others and pride in yourself and your environment by putting trash in the nearest trash can or dumpster. State College is a pretty town, and it's a shame to see trash all over the place. If you throw your trash on the street or sidewalk and I see it, I might throw it at you. If you throw it out of your car, I'm going to grab it, follow you, then throw it in your car if your window is open. If not, I'll leave it under your wiper.

8. Show a sense of urgency!

When you're crossing an intersection, move your ass! As mentioned above, this town does not belong to you nor does life wait on you. No matter what your parents told you, the sun does not rise and set because of you, nor did you hang the moon. There have been a frightening number of casualties because pedestrians decided to play chicken with oncoming traffic, or just didn't move fast enough, as they carelessly walk through an intersection. These people are now either dead or permanently injured because they decided that they're more important than the inertia and momentum of a moving vehicle.

And if you drag your feet or your flip flops when you walk, now is the perfect time to end this annoying habit.

9. Dress appropriately.

Pajamas do not qualify as socially acceptable clothing to be worn in public. To add to the mystery of wearing pajamas in public, many of the female student body spend at least an hour perfecting their make-up and hair before they leave home. This doesn't make you look cute, it just makes you look like you have no grasp on the priorities of life.

If it's raining or snowing out, don't wear flip-flops. Flip-flops are hard enough to walk on when it's sunny. Wearing them when it's raining are hazardous.

Oh, and stop wearing mukluks. They're not fashionable and never were. However, to the indigenous cultures around the Arctic Circle, they're a necessity. So unless you plan on moving to Siberia, throw your mukluks in the trash.

10. Be mindful of cyclists!

Learn local and state cycling laws. There are a lot of cyclists in the State College area.

If you're a motorist and you come upon cyclist, chances are they have the right of way. Just because they're on a bike and you're in a car doesn't give you the right to blow them off the road. According to state law, bicycles qualify as a vehicle. Therefore, cyclists are granted all the rights as motorists.

If you're a cyclist, stay off the sidewalk! It is illegal in State College to ride a bike on sidewalks. Only in the designated areas outside of town are you allowed to ride bikes on sidewalks. Even then, stay off the sidewalk!

Oh, and wear a helmet!

11. Skip State Patty's Day.

State Patty's Day was born in March 2007 when a group of alcohol-loving malcontents decided it would be a good idea to create a fake holiday since St. Patrick's Day didn't coincide with spring break that year.

Each year that State Patty's Day is celebrated results in seemingly half of the student body drinking all day long since 6:00 am, hundreds of 911 calls related to injuries, alcohol poisoning, fights, public urination, and destruction of public and private property. It costs the borough hundreds of thousands of dollars in court fees, and emergency response. State Patty's Day has become so widespread and infamous that some of these goons drive the whole way from Philadelphia just to get trashed.

Just like anyone else, I love going out to enjoy a few drinks with friends. But creating a holiday just so you can get drunk is unbelievably inane. To be fair, there are some people who do go out to have enjoy time with their friends and just have a good time and nothing more. But if you're one of the thousands who invade the State College bars on this dreadful holiday just to get drunk and cause mayhem, you deserve what's coming to you.

Borough and university officials simply aren't doing enough to discourage participation in State Patty's Day. It will probably take a serious injury or death to ultimately get rid of it. If you are borough of university official and are truly concerned about the detrimental effects of State Patty's Day, here are some suggestions to end it:

1. Stop screwing around with these kids! Fining them a couple hundred dollars for a minor offense means nothing to them because they rely on the mommies and daddies to pay it for them. Hit them and their parents in the pocket books and hit them hard. If a student is arrested for anything related to State Patty's Day, fine them and/or their parents $5,000 for the first offense, then $2,500 for each additional offense. It'd be a great way to fund upgrades in infrastructure and emergency services. If they're arrested again in subsequent observances of State Patty's Day, then tack on those fines plus a week's stay in jail plus the maximum bail that law will allow for alcohol related offenses.

2. If a student is arrested on State Patty's Day, then they should be given automatic suspension from school for one year without one red cent's worth of a refund. If they're arrested again in future State Patty's Day observances, then permanently expel the student.

As long as you can observe these guidelines, your stay in State College should be a safe and enjoyable experience. And if you're looking for some fun, for no more than $7.50, you can't beat an Icers' game!

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