Those who believe college fraternity members learn only how to consume a lot of booze and charm young ladies are incorrect. I learned many skills as a Sigma Nu at the University of Wisconsin, some still useful.
When I was a pledge, active member Lou Kocsis served as House Manager. The job paid the cost of his room, which was $25 a month. Kocsis fulfilled his duties as though his compensation was several thousand dollars a month. He was studying engineering on the GI Bill after serving as a sergeant in the U.S. Air Force.
The biggest part of Kocsis’ responsibilities was making sure the public areas in the Sigma Nu house were cleaned weekly. We pledges did the work, most of which was assigned every Saturday morning to be sure things were in top shape before the usual Saturday night party with dates.
I clearly remember Kocsis, on my first Saturday as a pledge, instructing us in the fine art of toilet cleaning—the Air Force way. That involved getting close to the work and a lot of elbow grease. The result was supposed to be sparkling white bowls that would have made any inspecting officer proud. Kocsis was a fairly big man with a big voice. I never forgot the lesson, although it didn’t seem like the type of instruction that would be very useful to a college grad in later life.
But it proved to be useful.
BW (beautiful wife) Sandy and I had several long discussions when I was considering early retirement. I was more than ready to join the ranks of the gainfully unemployed, but wanted to be sure we had carefully considered the change and were in agreement. I was pretty sure Sandy would approve if I chose to retire. But just to sway her if there were any doubts, I said she would never again have to clean a toilet.
A little basic math says I most likely tidied up toilet bowl number 17,000 sometime in the fall of last year. And every time I get up from my knees (the only Kocsis-approved position for bowl cleaning), I think:
Does that measure up to Brother Kocsis’ standards?