By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

Rules for a Reason

They say that behind every rule, there is a story. Every young mind that tours CWU’s Ellensburg campus knows one thing by the end of the tour: you do not swim in the Ganges. The sweet smile of your tour guide will fall as you come to the bridge outside of Barto Hall, the light behind their eyes fading as their backward walk comes to a halt. 

 “And…” the guide will stutter, resuming their backward pace and smiling once again, the darkness vanishing from their eyes as quickly as it came, “And this is the Ganges! Just make sure you don’t swim in it, there’s a $500 fine! Hehe!” It’s strange, you think, but move past it as a momentary lapse and nothing more. Surely it’s nothing. You’ll forget about the odd feeling by the end of the tour.

But the older students will never forget. You’ll notice the subtle hastening of steps as seniors and graduate students cross the bridge, and the off looks they give the students who meander too close to the edge. Those who witnessed it will never forget the 2018 outbreak that would be known as Wellingtonious Follicular Exudative Hypertrichosis.

You see, every rule has a story behind it, and when my tour guide told me not to swim, it was nothing more than an off-handed joke about irrigation runoff and penicillin. But dear god I look back to the person I used to be, the young boy that walked across that bridge all those years ago, and I wish to god I would have listened.

It was a hot sunny day, unusually hot for late April, and I was itching to get out of the heat and into the water. There was a faint voice in the back of my head, an echo from seven months prior that told me not to jump, but the water looked so good, and the sun was beating down on my head like a mob boss on a guy who didn’t pay for his drugs and I thought “Oh well, what’s the worst that can happen?” I think about those words every day. The words that haunt me every day.

At first, the water felt fine, amazing actually. The sweet, cold, relief managed to numb my skin enough that it took me far too long to notice the wet, moldy, fur that began to grow on every inch of my flesh. I only noticed as a girl standing on the bridge screamed at the top of her lungs, “There’s a wildcat in the water!”

Of course, I jumped out of the water, desperately trying to get away from the beast. But there was no way of getting away as I realized that the so-called mountain lion was me. But I was no mountain lion, I was a blistered, furry, slimy disaster.

Wellingtonious Follicular Exudative Hypertrichosis was an instant outbreak, any student splashed with the river water from my escape came down with an instant, though mild case. Campus was under an immediate quarantine following the events of the outbreak, and in the end, the disease was mitigated. Now, those affected wake up each morning with patches of putrid fur. 

So remember, when your tour guide gives you a tip, take it. Because every rule has a story.

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