By Robert Bember
I stepped out of my house and into a cloud as I headed to the airport to visit the Omicron Chapter at Mississippi State. I haven’t seen fog like this in many moons, but I hopped in my Mazda and headed toward DFW with next to no visibility.
I pulled through the toll plaza to go park and got a call from a nice recorded voice telling me that my flight was cancelled, but I need not fret because the kind folks at American Airlines had rescheduled my flight for 6:35 a.m. the next day. I politely declined since that meant: 1) I would miss chapter meeting and 2) I’d have to be up way, way, way too early. I think I’d rather watch soccer than sit through six one-on-ones in one day after waking up at 4 a.m. That’s saying something.
With God once again emphasizing to me that my plans are not His plans, I made the necessary phone calls to reschedule my visit for the following week. So for Halloween I dressed up as a BYX National Advisor rather than one of my many other ideas. I was really looking forward to dressing up as Mayhem from the All-State commercials.
The hardest part about the visit to Mississippi State is getting there. I fly into Jackson, which somehow has an international airport despite only having 20 gates. Then I hop in a car and drive 2 hours through the middle of nowhere Mississippi before arriving in Starkville. I wish the travel was a short as some of the shorts that the gentlemen in Starkville sport.
The travel situation got better when I went to the rental car counter. I had reserved something comparable to a clown car because it was the cheapest option. The woman at the counter gave me a choice between a Ford Focus and a Nissan Versa. I felt obligated to give her my man card when I gave her my credit card, but she proceeded to inform me that they had a Dodge Charger available for an additional 10 dollars. Yes please. So I was rolling through the Mississippi wilderness in a loaded, charcoal grey Charger, only adding to the respect that comes from wearing the BYX polo.
The biggest advantage to my trip being re-scheduled was that I was able to sit down with all the newly elected officers. My visit was originally scheduled for officer speech night, but it was much more beneficial to meet with the guys face-to-face after they were elected than it was to hear them speak.
I was impressed by the quality of men that are in leadership within the chapter, whether I was meeting with a new officer or a current one. The men are organized and communicate well. The current officers function as a strong, cohesive unit, and, at the same time, each officer is different and specifically gifted for the position they hold. Their abilities are evident. The men complement each other well, thus helping each other to utilize their strengths.
I have no apprehensions about the new men stepping into office, even though they are a younger group of guys. Joey Pippin served as treasurer in 2011 and will move into the presidency in 2012. His experience will be valuable as all the other new officers are only sophomores, albeit very gifted sophomores.
During one-on-ones, I kept hearing about the men’s performance at the Chi-O Limelight event. The chapter put together a song and dance routine that everyone at the event loved. They took second place, but were voted crowd favorite. One officer went so far as to say they did more for their presence on campus in those four minutes then they had in his entire time in the chapter.
Tuesday evening I met with the officers at Bulldog Deli. One of the staples of my trips is to sit down with all the officers for a meal. It’s great to see them function together (usually) and hang out with all the guys at once. We tried to go there last spring after I was bedridden all day, but I had to make a quick return to the hotel. Unfortunately I emptied what little was in my stomach on the streets of Starkville on the way back to the hotel. I’ll let you connect the dots. After my last visit to Starkville, I was a little apprehensive about some of the restaurants they took me to, but Bulldog Deli was safe.
After dinner, I played cheerleader for the BYX softball team. I was jealous that Mississippi State has it’s own softball complex. We resorted to the janky, fenceless intramurals fields at TCU. Watching the game made me feel like I was experiencing withdrawals. After my boys took care of business with a big win, I was able to get some cuts on an empty field. I dropped a few bombs on Vice President Bill Gilbert, which President Hunter Upton happened to catch on video. I miss softball. And baseball. And sports.
From there, I went over to the Wesley Foundation, where the pledges were rehearsing a dance routine. Every fall, the pledges perform a dance at semi-formal to a Backstreet Boys song. This class took their performance seriously. A couple of pledges had choreographed a routine and taught it to the rest of the class. Seeing them work together showed how strong of a pledge class the Omicron Chapter has. Pledge Captain Bubba Bowen has done a great job of taking on the role of authority figure as well as cheerleader. He understands the father-figure type balance that the pledge captain must maintain. The pledges respond well to Bubba. After rehearsal, they prayed and carried Bubba out of the room on their shoulders in celebration.