Today, my students handed in a major paper. I celebrated their success with a simple gift: an ice cream treat. They were grateful.
I'm not sure why an act that basic is meaningful, but it is. My belief stems from the experience that led me to Los Angeles in August 2001.
While I was on vacation, I got pulled into a job interview. They offered me a contract. Everything looked positive: I liked the interview, I liked the administration, I liked the school, I liked the location ... but still .... Something was missing.
You don't leave a tenured position and move all the way across the continent to California -- not unless you're crazy, or very certain.
What made me very certain was an Act of Food.
On my way out of Los Angeles, I stopped at the front office to pick up my contract offer. They told me to wait: the Dean of Students was on his way down to see me. Something important.
When he arrived, he was carrying a paper plate with a simple lunch: a sandwich and a bag of chips and a bottle of water. He didn't want me to get hungry on the way to the airport: he knew I was too busy to stop for lunch.
I was touched. This must be a good place to work, I thought.
And so I moved to California.