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Breaking Down Barriers: The Craig Richardson Story

February 23rd, 2010 dpdeco13

When college started, everyone was looking to make connections. Some people came in knowing others already, others like myself had made a few friends at summer orientation but didn’t really have any solid foundation, and still others came in completely alone. Since we all crave companionship in life, everyone set out in the first week of school to establish themselves in social circles that they felt comfortable in. Most kids would chat with various people they saw throughout the day, and before long everyone began to get a feel for where they might like to fit in.

For me, and I think for a lot of freshmen, my friend base started out in my fall orientation group. This group spent three whole days together, and since they were arranged by residence halls everyone lived close to one another. Naturally, this mixture of extended daily exposure and close living proximity led to bonding, and as is often the case, bonding led to friendship.

Obviously, as time went on, each member of the group got to know and like other members of the campus community, and everyone’s social circle grew. But in many cases the heart of the friend circle remained concrete. This is certainly true for me, as all of my closest friends except for one were people who I met during my first three days on campus.

Now, not everyone who lives on the same floor shared the same orientation group. What this meant at the very beginning was we all lived in a mix of strangers and friendly faces. As time goes on, the strangers become less strange and more neighborly, and a community atmosphere develops. Even so, there are cases in which neighbors never truly elevate themselves to the status of friends. With each day that passes, it seems less and less likely that neighbor relationships will blossom into full-blown friendships, which is in a sense, sad.

This post is the heartwarming tale of a young man named Craig Richardson. Craig took it upon himself to redefine the term ‘neighbor’ on the fourth floor of Wheeler and to break down the barrier that seemed to exist since the first semester. Is Craig a hero? It’s too early to say. But let’s have a look at his story.

Friday, 8:30 p.m. – My friends and I sit in a dorm room – the same room that we always go to when it’s time to hang out and relax. At this point the Xbox is in full swing, music is playing, people are conversing, and all signs are pointing to a typical Friday night. No one is complaining, it’s nice just to kick back.

9:15 p.m. – A few of the girls that we’re friends with come wandering upstairs to hang out with us. Dancing ensues. Again, nothing mind-boggling, but nonetheless a fun time.

9:27 p.m. – A knock on the door. A quick glance around shows that everyone is accounted for. Everyone who we normally spend time with is already inside the room. Could it be an RA? Was the music too loud? Possibly. But a quick glance through the peep hole proved otherwise.

9:28 p.m. - My friend Dan opens the door, and in steps Craig. Everyone in the room is fond of Craig, he is one of the cordial neighbors with whom we interacted on occasion but not on a daily basis. We wait to see what he has to say. Would he ask to borrow an Xbox controller? Would he ask for the number for the pizza delivery guy? No one knew.

9:28.45 p.m. – “What are you guys up to?” Boom. Barrier broken. Those six words show that Craig cares. So in comes Craig, and he is greeted warmly. After a few minutes, he says he’ll be right back.

9:35 p.m. - Another knock on the door and another peep through the peephole reveals another appearance by Craig – this time with three of his friends. They all come inside. They all converse. Everything is awesome.

That night, we never even left my friend’s room. Time seemed to fly. We had always said that we liked our neighbors and we should spend more time together as a large group, and we’d heard that they shared the same sentiments, but no one had been willing to take the first step until Craig.

The next day my friends and I talked over the events from the previous night, and we all agreed that we hadn’t had that much fun in our dorm rooms in a while. Craig’s action had brought a sort of freshness and renewed camaraderie to the floor.

In one sense, what Craig did was logical. We live together, we share a home, we share experiences and interests, so why shouldn’t we hang out? But on the other hand, its almost March and it hadn’t happened yet, so why would anyone expect it to on a random Friday night? It’s that second part that makes this whole situation so great.

So, is Craig Richardson a hero? Well, that’s not something that one little blogger can decide. But is Craig Richardson a pioneer? Absolutely.

Some of those kids on the far side of the floor that use the other bathroom still seem kind of weird though.

Baby steps.

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