Once upon a time, there was a colorful, crowded room deep in the underground of a university learning center. It was often noisy in that place: people strolled by the door chatting and laughing loudly, the elevator ran up and down between the floors with clanking and groaning and wheezing, snack and drink machines constantly clinked and whooshed, and sometimes the Scantron machine sounded like a machine gun in this hidden place buried in the cavernous basement often referred to as “the dungeon.” Those who worked in this windowless room were definitely the best of best; these workers were chosen for their love of reading and writing, and they all carried GPAs which proved their attachment to things academic. These fine folk, however, had a competitive spirit. And they loved all things Christmas because it not only designated their Savior’s birth, it also gave them an opportunity to plan and scheme and keep secrets. The story of StanNation actually begins with those very traits: a love of Christmas, planning, scheming, and keeping secrets.
At the time of this strange christening, there was a Student Coordinator named Carrie, who was something of a legend. Her name was known far and wide as the APA expert, and she coached minions in the intricacies of that format. She also had the chutzpah to consult with her boss on the tone and direction of that ogre’s papers. Nevertheless, she smiled more and was kinder than anyone who had ever graced the dungeon before. But she carried an evil secret deep within her heart: Carrie was miffed, angry, outraged even that her office had worked crazily every single year and had yet to win the annual Christmas decorating contest. Never mind that they enjoyed the effort. Put aside how much they relished the outcome. To heck with the acclamations they received from visitors. She wanted the coveted prize: a pizza party. And she would have it! She would.
That fateful Friday afternoon 29 October 2010, at 4:55 p.m. sharp, she sent out the missive:
Hello, comrades. … Here in the UWC, we love Christmas. We have put forth a valiant decorating effort every year, receiving an honorable mention twice. But this year… we are going for number ONE. That’s right. We will join the ranks of Babe Ruth, Michael Phelps, and George Washington.
Here’s the plan, Stan… (PS… everyone’s code name is Stan when talking about this project)
We are going to make a gingerbread village. We have plans. BIG plans. … We will come sneak into the UWC and build. If we build it, they will come. The judges, that is. And they will be blown away by our mad skills and lovely tastes in decoration. Oh, and we will offer them gingerbread men to eat. (Bribing works wonders.) SO… come join us in decorating/dominating. …
From that day forward, all the staff was known as Stan. In fact, one follow-up email was quite funny. See for yourself:
Christmas decorating, which shall henceforth be referred to as “quilt-making” for the purpose of secrecy, shall commence at 4 pm this Sunday. Be there.
Stan’s father will be coming to help with construction of our “quilt-making.” There will be hammers, staple-guns, and other cool power tools, so you guys will have fun. Girls too. I like power tools. But I REALLY like gingerbread and candy.
I get goose bumps when I think about how awesome our dungeon is going to look.
Have a great Thanksgiving! See you on Sunday for the quilt-making. Oh, we’re going to dinner afterwards too. We can just call dinner “dinner.” I don’t think we have to be too secretive about that. I mean, every office probably eats dinner, whether individually or collectively. Let me know if you hear of any breach of security, though, and we can adapt as needed.
PS- This is not Truett. This is Stan. My computer has momentarily been commandeered by Stan, so I commandeered Truett’s (oh, I mean Stan’s) computer.
Clearly confusion ensued. Still, decorating commenced, continued, and indeed, was quite successful. Or so they thought.
Sadly, the Stans still did not win the 2010 Christmas decorating contest. The staff was perturbed that the winners dominated by bringing forth Jerusalem with live animals and a newborn baby. They were sorely disappointed when they went to see the winning office, and there was nothing left but an empty manger, straw on the floor, and a construction-paper Jerusalem on the walls. Yet, they were gracious, congratulating the winners warmly even as they vowed to win next year.
Woefully, 2011 brought them only second place. They vowed that 2012 would be their year. They would surely win. But perhaps the fly in the ointment was the fact that each and every team member was called Stan. Nobody knew who was who. And that, my friends, was a problem. They bumbled around: everybody answering or nobody answering queries and responding to suggestions. It was like the fifteen stooges were in the office as they attempted to plan and decorate. Once more, other offices attained the coveted prize. And the UWC staff declared that somehow, the Stans would find a way to communicate and win.
To that end, Carrie instructed each Stan adapt his or her name by adding Stan to a portion of his or her given moniker: she became HamilStan. Others became Briggstan, VannaStan, Stanlee, Stanison, and so forth until all were individuals again. Still, it was another year before the UWC grabbed the treasure they so craved. In 2013, they celebrated with the grand reward: a pizza party. They laughed, they high-fived, they ate, they drank, they made very merry. And they won again in 2015! Hooray for knowing who is who when decorating is under way.
That, my friends, is the legacy of Carrie. All UWC staff will henceforth be known as Stan, and the tiny, bright nation in the dark cavern will forever be StanNation.
Written by Ka
Image credit: Ka Riley