Most Vassar students dread laundry day. From scraping all of last week’s socks out from underneath the bed to having nowhere to put dirty clothes since the clean ones remain unfolded, routine clothes washing is an arduous, time-consuming slog.
Yet, from among the wretched, huddled masses of students yearning to be free, one student will occasionally rise above. This exemplary citizen serves as a beacon of hope, a light in the dark and a symbol of what freedom could be. Every so often, a student mistakenly pays for a washer when they really meant to pay for a dryer. On Friday, none other than junior Fred Lazarus stepped into this role.
“Wait, crap, what button did I push?” said Lazarus.
Besides his incomparable altruism, Lazarus’s heroism can be attributed to his poor ability to navigate the card readers.
“I pushed the button that said ‘dryer,’ I pushed number 3, I slid my card. Why isn’t this starting?” Lazarus wondered.
As Lazarus pushed the “whites and colors” button one more time to see if it would work, the steady stream of his peers, ashen and flipflop clad, who had made the strenuous journey to the basement laundry room, slowed to a gradual stop.
“Is it broken?” a faceless voice croaked from the wretched refuse.
As the eyes of his tempest-tost housemates swiveled to him, wondering if another one of their comrades had fallen, Lazarus noticed the number on his dryer.
“Wait… why is this number four? It said number three on the machine!” said Lazarus.
Quietly, the line of other students, desperately hoping that whoever came before cleaned the lint trap, began to stand up straighter as they realized Lazarus’s mistake.
“He paid for the wrong machine,” the tired, the poor chanted in one voice. “He paid for a washer when he meant to pay for a dryer.”
It took Lazarus another minute or so to realize this himself.
“What, no, look, I definitely hit… hmm, I know I hit dryer, but now it’s showing me numbers one, four and six. Earlier, I swear it was numbers two, three and five under dryer!” exclaimed a frustrated Lazarus.
Moving closer in small, cautious steps that smacked “flip…flop” against the cold tile floor, the wretched masses shuffled toward washer number four.
“Is it true?” one indistinguishable voice cried from amongst the others.
“I cannot tell,” another responded. “Someone check the screen on the control panel!” yet a third chimed in.
“It says ‘select cycle’!” the final voice shouted as, in unison, the other students attempting to do laundry lifted their hampers above their heads in ecstasy.
“Select cycle! Select cycle! Select cycle!” they chanted together.
Despite his incredible act of heroism, Lazarus attempted to remain humble.
“What—I—hey! I paid for that! That’s not fair. Come on, guys. I made a mistake,” Lazarus pleaded with his peers not to use the washer.
All of a sudden, an individual, sophomore Emma Auguste, stepped forward from the undifferentiated crowd.
“You!” said Auguste, “We have you to thank for this! You have shown us a day when we will not have to pay a dollar thirty per load. You have given us hope. Brethren, let’s thank this hero!”
Lazarus felt humbled by the sudden praise of his peers.
“Well, I guess I’m pretty cool. Yeah, yeah, it’s not a big deal, go for it. Everyone can use it. I’m happy to help out,” said Lazarus.
His peers responded with three cheers of “Hurrah!” before carrying Lazarus onto the quad atop their shoulders. They bore him down Raymond Avenue, paraded him around Sunset Lake and then carried him to the heart of campus where the whole school had congregated to cheer for this champion, this god among men.
Lazarus took the opportunity to say a few words of encouragement to his captive audience.
“I want this to prove that you can do anything. Especially with an education, you can overcome all obstacles,” said Lazarus.
President Bradley presented him with the college’s first ever Laurel of Heroism: a woven crown of freshly mowed grass from outside the Old Observatory, plus one of the good cookies from The Deece. Meryl Streep was unable to appear in person, but she sent a video expressing how students like Lazarus rekindle her pride in the Vassar community.
After the ceremony concluded, Lazarus remembered he had yet to move his clothes from the washer to the dryer. Upon returning to the basement of Cushing, however, Lazarus found all the machines taken, and his wet clothes piled in a corner on the floor.