Max Dodo

The tutors who work at the Palo Alto College Writing Assistance Center are mostly in their late twenties and early thirties which means they’re young and energetic.  Because they haven’t clocked many years on this planet, they’re not yet tired or jaded.  This is likely the reason they’re so incredibly gung-ho about everything.  So, when the college announced that it was time for everyone to begin to prepare for the annual Christmastime office door decorating contest, they were immediately all in and very excited.

On the day they were to begin to transform our drab door into a kind of winter wonderland, I let them into the storage room that’s chockful of rolls of colored construction paper, tinsel, and all manner of sparkly and twinkly things.  They hauled nearly a ton of stuff out of the room and began to go at it with scissors, staplers, and glue guns.

I asked them what they thought they might do.  They looked at one another and spoke vaguely of igloos, snowy mountains, Santa Clauses, elves, reindeer, and Christmas trees.  There were tons of ideas but very little focus.  They eventually admitted that they’d probably need to think a bit before getting started.

While they were sitting around and brainstorming, an email came out announcing the three prizes that would be awarded to the first, second, and third-placed doors.  Because the tutors liked the prize for third place better than all the others, they immediately realized that it was in their best interest to do a good job but not to hit a homerun.

It must have been Kate who came up with the idea that they should work animals into their decoration.  Hearing this, Monique sat down and immediately started cutting two large shapes out of black paper that would eventually become penguins.  With all this cutting and talking going on around me, I started getting into the Christmas spirit myself.  I can often be a bit of a Scrooge, but given the right sort of circumstances, even I can be drawn in and softened up.  I don’t know what possessed me, but the next thing I knew, I had opened my mouth and said, “If I were to be an animal and a part of your door decoration, I’d choose to be a dodo bird.”

The next thing I knew, the tutors were on the internet and searching for images of dodos.  Shortly thereafter, they were cutting one out of brown construction paper.  Because I’m a bit of an absurdist, I suggested that my dodo have a red nose since we weren’t including a Rudolph.  Monique agreed and took it a step further by adding an elf hat too.

I wanted to see how far I could push things, so I asked if a muffler could be added to my bird because dodos seemed to be—back when they still existed—more of a warm-weather animal.  Monique thought for a moment and said, “I think your dodo is now at max dodo.”  I loved her line, and the moment she spoke it, I knew I had my inspiration for this week’s blog. 

Eventually all the animals were added to the door along with a Christmas tree and snowflakes and the like.  We’ve heard that the judges will be going around campus looking at all the doors over the next few days.   We’ve got our fingers crossed for third place.

I’d like to conclude by sharing a bit of wisdom that came as a result of being a bystander while a number of energetic young folks pasted lots of colored paper on our center door.  Without further ado, here it is:  There’s only so much you can do with a dodo without crossing some pretty serious lines.

Happy Holidays, all!  

15 thoughts on “Max Dodo

  1. Lol I love that line. We used to do holiday door decorating when I was a teacher and it got crazy- in a good way 🎅🏻🤶🏻🎄

    1. We’ve had a stressful term so it was good to see the tutors relaxed and being creative in a way other than the normal sort of creative problem solving they do on a daily basis. I’ve been around campus and think we have a good shot at third place. The best thing about the door decorating contest is that it’s a tangible reminder that we’ve got a nice couple of weeks off in the very near future. Thanks, Todd.

  2. OMG this brings back memories. I used to work for Discovery Channel (I was the token old guy @50) Anyway, the Science Channel team had a large common area they filled with oversized bean bag chairs. Whenever they had a meeting they would all dive in. Can’t believ HR was never called.
    Their cubes looked like the Vegas strip. Neon Elvis signs, strings of lights, life-size Marboro Cowboy cutouts, etc. To be young again.

    1. Hey, Danny Watts, you’ve given me a great idea. Maybe after the holidays we’ll do something neon and a bit weird that we can keep up on a permanent basis. I’m sure my tutors would be up for such an idea. All those who are in involved in the teaching of writing and literature and critical thinking are always open to a bit of oddness and nonconformity. Thanks for reading and for the idea.

  3. Very fun! You’ll have to let us know how the dodo fares. I’ll have my fingers crossed for 3rd place for you all too (first time ever to have my fingers crossed for a dodo OR 3rd Place). 😆

    1. Thanks for the well wishes! There’s always a first time for everything. This is probably my first time (actually, it’s definitely my first time) to feel such a strong connection to a dodo bird cutout. And third place sounds and feels good. I’ve always thought there was something a touch magic about the number 3.

  4. Celebration or party? I don’t see a whit of difference between the two. Schools are funny places, aren’t they? They’re ostensibly designed and tasked to create strong, independent students and young adults. And to achieve this, they institute all sorts of crazy rules that end up stunting and squeezing students and teachers alike. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  5. That was a nice competition! We only put some decorations on our doors. We have a small Christmas tree, and a few lights on. This Christmas there is very little to celebrate in Europe. But if we think at the real meaning of this Holiday, we will be happy, what we need is only peace and love.

    1. It was a lot of fun even if I did participate merely vicariously. By the way, the holiday season is a time when we can all be a bit more creative and free-spirited. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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