Getting quadded is something that happens to other people, like getting Ad-boarded or contracting an STI. I did everything right: I had a small blocking group and no linkmates, I did virtual river run (this is just getting blackout drunk and clicking around campus on Google Earth), I personally asked David Laibson to put me in Lowell during his one-on-one office hours, I bribed all the right university administrators — you name it, I did it.
Then, the time came — Friday, April 12, 9:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Savings Time. I eagerly chat with my blockmates in a Zoom waiting room. Suddenly we are pulled into the main Zoom call to discover our future house. As the Zoom room loads, we can see that they are screen sharing some music video, and I hear the first few beats to a song I can’t recognize. After a few seconds, I make out the first few words of the song, “The house surrounding Quad lawn, only in Cabot.”
“Fuck,” I think. “This cannot be happening.” More accurately, “This can’t be happening to me!” I wait a few more seconds to ensure that this is not, in fact, some sick joke and that I really did just get quadded. After refreshing my browser and rejoining the call it seems I am still in Cabot. I can’t tell you what happens on the call next because I angrily slam my laptop shut and throw myself onto my bed.
Face buried in my pillows, I try really hard not to cry — one, because I don’t want to further perpetuate the stereotype of freshmen who get quadded and then cry about it, and two, because I am deeply insecure and I think any open display of emotion is a sign of weakness and therefore a threat to my masculinity.
After 45 minutes lying face down, successfully repressing my emotions, I decide I need to do something to make myself feel better. I land on riding my bike — a good chance to get some exercise, take my mind off things, and practice my grueling new commute.
Thankfully, I live in the part of northern California where right-wing militias and ranches outnumber software engineers and Teslas, so there is plenty of wide-open space for me to ride my bike in the woods while maintaining social distance.
But riding my bike until I forget that I got quadded is not working. I am listening to “Spikes” by Death Grips so loudly that I can’t hear my own thoughts, but I still can’t shake the overwhelming feeling of, “Oh my god, is this karma for destroying the IKEA coffee table my roommate bought out of spite and then posting it on Tik Tok?”
As the bike ride goes on, I grow more and more indignant –– living a fabulously privileged life up until this point has left me ill-suited to deal with hardship as massive as this.
As my outrage at the cosmic injustice of being quadded after already living in Pennypacker for a year reaches a fever pitch, I turn a corner and see a middle-aged couple walking towards me over a rocky, uphill section of the trail. Suddenly on my left, I see their large black dog barking and running at me. In an effort not to hit the dog, I keep my eyes on him and drift to the right side of the trail.
As I continue staring the dog down, I suddenly find myself flying through the air. Midair, I began piecing together what had happened — in my attempt to spare the dog, I had drifted too far to the right of the trail and my right foot had smashed itself into a large rock with enough force to flip me over the bars of my bike and dump me onto the ground.
As I lie on my back, the middle-aged woman throws her hands over her mouth in shock and repeatedly asks me if I am alright. Her husband curses and chases the dog trying to get it back on its leash, while the little bastard prances around, gloatingly.
“Bells they chime, damn they fine; getting into Lowell gonna blow your mind,” the dog seems to whisper, trouncing around my twisted heap of limbs and bicycle with unconcealed glee. Oh shut up.
But in that moment, lying on my back, as the adrenaline wears off and I feel searing pain spread into my right foot, left knee, left hip, elbows, and shins, I have a moment of clarity: “Wow, this hurts way fucking worse than getting quadded.”
As I begin to stand up, I start to laugh. It’s not even 10 a.m. I shouldn’t even be awake yet. Also, this is insane. I can’t believe this chain of events has aligned with such precision. Apparently, there is a god, and they have an amazing sense of comedic timing.
The pain and embarrassment really helps put things into perspective. Does the quad suck? Absolutely. Does the quad suck as much as peeling your sock off to see that your cracked toenail is oozing blood from the spot of impact, and then having to gingerly put that sock back on and bike two miles home? Absolutely not.
I can’t wait for a year from now when I get to be the one quadding freshmen. I will burst into a room of previously excited freshman boys yelling, “Semper Cor, suckers!” and they will promptly burst into tears. I will paternally gather them in a circle, put my hand on their shoulders, and whisper in their ears the graphic story of what happened to my foot. I will then say to them: “Listen, kids, when I was your age, I thought being quadded would be a truly painful experience too –– now, I think it’s all relative.”
— Staff writer Harrison R. T. Ward can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Harri_son_Ward.