It’s been two days since the floods in Vilas began. Two days since I’ve been trapped in the Dirty Bird office, watching water ooze through the crack under our door while sand slowly trickles through an hourglass. Since I’ve become trapped, I’ve eaten nothing but a bag of stale Cheetos I found in my desk drawer, water, artificial dairy. And, of course, burning resentment.
When we reported on the flooding in the Chemistry building, I laughed. Foolish STEM majors with their puny experiments, and their labs that don’t involve sitting in a room and writing for three hours. Thinking that perhaps, with enough inductive methodology, they could emanate God. Such a blatant expression of divine karma would never manifest here in Vilas, I’d thought. The almighty flood chooses its victim with discretion, and the Dirty Bird remains a pillar of social justice and ethical journalism. The Office upon the Hill, if you may.
However, now I am the fool. We were next. The Dirty Bird, the last bastion of intellect and integrity on campus. Our print product is eight pages of hard-hitting news reporting, nuanced takes in opinion and heavily investigative, student-centered features — like the week where we finally revealed the best brunch spots near campus. Our god is a vengeful one: not even an oxford comma could save us now.
As I sit back at my desk, I can’t help but wonder how we’ll ever continue — what if this torrent washes away our entire office? The entire building? The Dirty Bird takes pride in our location. How else are we supposed to report campus stories from anywhere but the heart of campus itself? Find an office off campus? Ridiculous. “Rent” isn’t in our vocabulary. We keep our ties with students close, but our ties with the university closer.
However, I know in the end that no fire or flood can stop us. Our website can endure all forms of tangible massacre. In fact, it looks like it already has. But we have bigger problems than that now.
Since the floods began, I’ve banded together with several journalism school professors also trapped in the bowels of this winding labyrinth, this generic-brand Mosse Humanities. Together, we’ve foraged for snack foods and coffee, roaming the sprawling halls like stray cats. I truly have become a Dirty Bird, for I haven’t showered in a week.
Oh, how I yearn for short stack pancakes. Since we exposed them as the tastiest in Madison, I’ve hungered for their fluffy, buttery goodness. Instead, I eat more Cheetos. My milk-chugging ancestors would be disgusted, but it’s what this tragedy has reduced me to. I wonder how the STEM majors trapped in the chemistry building are faring. I’m sure it’s much worse. My communications curriculum has prepared me for disasters like this. I can only assume chemistry has no real-world applications.
Today, I bore witness to unspeakable things. We were forced to eat a beloved Wisconsin Public Radio producer.
Alas! I am saved! After nearly a week spent trudging through suspiciously-colored water trying to escape the depths of Vilas, my posse of journalism professors and I have been rescued by some friendly UWPD officers. Finally, I can rejoice — sunlight hits my face for the first time in ages and I know that, as I have always known in the deepest vestiges of my heart, only the highest tier journalism would prevail. Time to write this into a story.