First impressions and second chances

When my college friends get together, Steve Huether likes to tell the story of the first time he met the rest of Finnegan 4-West during move-in day freshman year.

He likes to set the scene like it’s a low budget Hype Williams music video.

As he strolls in slow-motion around the corner of the contorted hallway, he nearly collides with my former roommate Robert Morris – whom I began hating 30 seconds after we were introduced – as he was riding his skateboard with spiked hair that added six inches to his height and jeans that would’ve fit my 17-year-old sister.

He then passed Jon Zigler’s room, a place that none of us are actually sure he left during the first eight months of school.

Steve then looks into my room and sees a kid with glasses fidgeting with his unpacked totes. His first impression, he claims – Nerd. Major nerd.

Things didn’t get any better when he met his neighbor for the year, Josh Niedergall – a kid who boasts a Fabio-esque, blonde pony tail that could measure longer than Rapunzel’s.

In fact, the only person Steve gave any credit to at the time was my current roommate Josh Allego. Apparently he thought Josh was the only one that didn’t have a gargantuan “L” tattooed across his forehead.

But as it turns out, he wasn’t alone when it came to judging the floor mates. I thought Steve was Home Depot’s latest design for a tool, Allego was all brawn and no brain, and Morris was the most unbearable human to walk the earth.

Later, as we rested in our new beds staring up at the ceiling, the common question we all entertained is the same one you’ll most likely ask tonight. What did I get myself into?

Trust me; I relay this story of misguided preconceived notions not to scare, but to reassure.

Fast forward three years and that giant tool, Huether, definitely has a spot as a groomsman at my future wedding.

In fact, Zigler and I were just up in Rochester visiting Huether and his family.

Allego and I have been roommates for three years and I can always count on Morris if I ever need help or a good night out.

As for Niedergall, he’s one of the most down-to-earth people I know.

Feel better now?

It’s an ending that even the writers of the “Brady Bunch” would call too cheesy, but it serves a valuable lesson for you dazed, wide-eyed freshmen – don’t judge anybody.

Leave your gavel at home because there is no better way to ruin your first year of college than by ending friendships before they start. My group of friends overcame it, but your gang may not be as lucky.

This is likely the first time in your life you’ll be immersed in a new setting with individuals that come from different places, speak with different accents and have different views on everyone from Joe Flacco to Joe Biden.

Instead of harping on what makes everyone different, embrace it.  Leave your door open, converse and eat up every bit of the experience.

Heaven knows, with this cafeteria food, it’ll be the best thing you’ll eat all semester.

ZACK MCDERMOTT

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