In high school, I was mesmerized by the delivery trucks of a local stone company, which were emblazoned across the back with the word “THINK.” Big, bold letters. I saw them everywhere.
I was told that it was instruction to other drivers on the road, an encouragement to be watchful and alert. But I always thought of it as a sort of grander social imperative: a call to look closer and think harder about everything. For a time, I worked for the stone company on weekends, scrubbing the trucks with acid and soap until they were free of dirt and silt, exposing the imperative for everyone on the road to see, to absorb, to pass on.
At my old job, when we created some promotional t-shirts for our department, we repeated the mantra, again in the imperative. “Think!,” we implored, in English, French, and Spanish. We’d give them away, and then take joy in seeing them out in public, circulating on the sidewalks and in the pubs of our small college town.
So here I am, again, after a week of absorbing some terrible essays on higher education written by fellow travelers, once again scrubbing the tailgate of the truck, billboarding a simple idea, in the hopes that someone is watching. I don’t want to link to an essay, or call someone out. I don’t want to write to them directly, or issue a screed. I just want to clean off the simple, dignified imperative of my youth, and set it adrift in traffic.
So here goes:
Think, people. Harder.