Truly Truax

By Nora Clancy

You’re starting your fourth year as an employee at the Annual Fund. How did you first get hooked in to it?
M: My first semester at Mac I worked in the cafeteria. It was okay but it was kind of monotonous because my job was, like, to stand and serve food. They were pretty long three or four hour shifts. That’s a long time to stand and serve food. Sometimes I’d work in the dish room and bring out dishes, but the dishes were really, really hot—so hot that they burned you. So after a semester of working there I thought it would be better to move on to something different. I switched to the annual fund. Honestly, I started working there because I wanted a different job and they were hiring. I had no idea what it was or how it worked. I started calling, and it turned out that I really liked it. I really liked being able to…get money from people [laughs]. No, really, I liked being able to connect with alums, and tell them about my experience at Macalester and hear about what Macalester was like for them, especially people who went to Mac like 40 or 50 years ago.
Do you remember any particular stories from alumni?
M: I remember talking to a lot of cute little old ladies who would tell about how they lived in the dorms back when they had house mothers, which was like this woman who kind of oversaw everything in your life. They would sneak out of Wallace to meet boys down at the St. Clair Broiler or something. It’s just really funny to hear this voice on the phone, that clearly is like, old, and think about them doing twenty-something exploits.
Do you think you have a quality that can get those alumni to spill their secrets?
M; I think you just have to be patient and ask the right questions. Working there I’ve learned a little bit about how to have a good conversation with people. I think anybody can do it. You just have to be patient and comfortable.
Do you ever have those bad days when you don’t make any money?
M: Yeah, all the time. There’s always nights when people hang up on you. I’ve been hung up on. There was this one guy I remember. He was just really, really bitter. He had been on the football team on Mac and he felt like everybody made fun of him. We talked for like 45 minuets. I was trying to convince him maybe he could give back to Macalester. He was, like, playing me. At the end of 45 minutes I was so drained. He was like: “well good luck.” You get really used to being hung up on and being treated really poorly. People on the phone are a lot more ill mannered than they are in person. You can’t see the person you’re talking to, so I think people definitely say things on the phone or treat people on the phone in a way that they would never think to treat somebody to their face.
Has working at the Annual fund for four years given you any insights into fundraising?
M: I think everybody should volunteer one night sometime in their college career at the annual fund. There are some people out there who are like “I hate Macalester, you’re not getting any of my money when you leave.” That’s fine. Working at the annual fund has taught me how powerful the alumni of Macalester can be. There’s 1800 of us and there’s 26,000 of them. They were all here at one point, and it’s amazing that they decide that it’s worth it to them to spend a little money to give back to the students. I think that’s really cool. I’ve definitely learned how valuable alumni support is to the college and I didn’t really realize that before. I also have a lot more patience with telemarketers. When they call me I ask them how they’re doing. And most of the time they will say. “I’m good. Thank you for asking.” Because nobody ever asks them how they’re doing!
Tell me about your sign collection.
M: What I really like is to take pictures of signs. The type of signs that you see at McDonalds, with a white board and the black lettering that people can change the letters and stuff. I love taking pictures of funny signs like that. So I have a little collection of photos of really funny signs. One of the best places to find them is Rapid City, SD. I go out there like every year with my friends.
Could you give me some examples of your favorites?
M: There’s one in Wall, SD where Wall Drug is. It’s this motel and it had a sign that said: “NO POOL OR COSTLY FRANCHISE.” That’s kind of funny. There’s this drug store down in Albuquerque, NM. I forget what it’s called. But [the sign] says: “WE HAVE TONS OF PERFUMES. COME ON IN, WE HAVE NO COMMON SCENTS.” There was one in Rapid City. It was for Uncle Sam’s Casino. It said “WHY FIGHT IT? THE PRICE IS RIGHT.” There was a McDonald’s in Rapid City that said: “CHECK OUT A FULLY LOADED 03 BIG MAC STARTING AT 3.99.”

How long have you been taking pictures of signs?
M: I guess three years. I don’t have a ton yet.

Do you set out to get them or do you make sure you always have your camera?
M: I try to make sure I have my camera. Often times I’ll see the sign and I don’t have [my camera] then I have to remember to go back. There was this other sign. It was two sided. One side said: “IT”S COLD GIN TIME AGAIN,” as if you hadn’t gotten enough “cold gin” the first time and you were, like, reassured by the sign, like “oh, good!” Then on the flip side it said: ” RELAX, IT”S LATER THAN YOU THINK.” Great! Cold gin time again, and it’s later than I think! Awesome.

When did this start? Did you see one special sign that inspired you?
M: I guess I just had pictures of a couple and I realized, hey, I should look around and take pictures of these signs. They’re all over.
If you had one of those blank signs, what would you write on it?
M: Oh my gosh, that’s a tough question. I like the signs that seem like they are very straightforward and then twist it up at the end.
Besides the sign collecting, I’ve heard you are also involved in an “US Weekly” fantasy league. Tell me a little about this.
M: My friend invited me to join in this fantasy league. For a long time there has been fantasy football, baseball, fantasy everything. Then they started cropping up—celebrity gossip fantasy leagues. So basically we had a draft. There’s like 30 people in the group. We all got lined up and whoever got the best pick got first choice of celebrities.

Where were you in line?
M: I was second for the women’s draft. I got Lindsay Lohan, Madonna, Fergie, Avril Lavigne. I got some big names. For the men’s I was sort of in the middle. I got okay names like Lance Armstrong. He’s actually in there quite a bit because he tails around with Matthew McConaughey. I got Britney Spears’ unborn child, which I guess now she’s had the child. So I hear, it’s what she told me…
How does the process work?
M: Each week, the new issue of Us Weekly comes out on Thursdays and then you go through it—you get ten points if one of your team is on the cover, a point for every photo inside, three points for the “who wore it best” section, and you get negative points if they are in the “fashion police” part. You add up the points and we do it through November. We all chipped in twenty bucks to be in the league. So there’s a cash prize for first, second, and third place. So far the guy who has Jessica Simpson is like, way in the lead because she’s been all over Us Weekly lately. But I’m hoping that some of my girls will cause some drama and come through for me.

You studied abroad in Barcelona last fall. What was it like?
M: There is always something going on, always something you can do. People are always in cafes, going clubbing, out in the street walking their dogs. They can do that because of the climate—in Minnesota we have to whole up because of the cold.
Is it true that absinthe is legal in Barcelona?
M: Yeah, we went to a really old absinthe bar called Bar Marcella. It was the same bar that Ernest Hemmingway used to go to. And you could tell. I don’t think it had been cleaned since then. Absinthe was like, wow. It has this horrible licorice flavor. It tastes like really dangerous Twizzlers.
How did you survive in Bar
celona with out Us Weekly?
M: Their version of Hello! Magazine is Hola! I’m basically illiterate, but I looked at the pictures.
Your brother is a first year at Mac. Do you want to make a shout-out to him?
M: He is going to read it, so I can’t say anything. He’ll say, “what? I didn’t know you cooked meth.” [laughter] Meth is so horrible. Fergie was on it. She got clean though. But I’m really drug free. If anybody tried meth they would probably get hooked. It’s like drain cleaner.
I heard you are one of those “gallon challenge” folks who just couldn’t make it. Tell me about that.
M: I’ve only thrown up like two times at Macalester. One time was when I tried to do the “gallon challenge.” You try to drink a gallon of milk in an hour. No body can do it. Maybe somebody can, but I couldn’t do it. I got through a quarter of milk, and then I threw up.
When was the other time you threw up?
M: The other time I threw up I was in Turkey. I got this really weird stomach virus. We flew from Turkey to Germany, and I was like, convulsing. We were standing in line to go through customs. Well, I was sitting because it felt better to sit down. My boyfriend was standing in line. We get to the front of the line, and I hand my passport to the passport official and I say “I’m gonna throw up.” And he’s like, “throw up in your bag.” I was just like “no, can’t throw up in bag.” So I threw up in my hat. My winter hat. The guy stamped me through so quickly. Then I passed out on the luggage conveyor belt.
What happened to the hat?
M: I went in the bathroom and washed it out. I came back out and my boyfriend was like “no, just through it away.” It was weird because I called my dad to tell him about it and he was like, “well, you coulda saved the hat.”