This post was originally published on January 29th, 2014
Have you ever gotten involved with something, something that you knew was going to take time and effort but be worth it, only to find that its even bigger than you ever dreamed. Something that basically takes over your life and makes you change as a person and dictates how you interact with your job, your school, your profession, and everybody around you. Something that shapes you for better or for worse into the person that you are today and the person that you will become. Something that just owns you, and probably will until the day that you die. I could say neatly that this started 9 years ago tonight when I first put on a jersey, but in reality it got its hooks into me more than an year before when I was first introduced to a hell of a bunch of guys who showed me a path and dared me to take it.
When I first started hanging out with PDC as a freshman I enjoyed hanging out with guys who liked beer and poker and music, which as an 18 year old was basically all that mattered to me. As time went on and I got closer to this eclectic group I found that the underlying bonds were even stronger than they looked from the outside. There were all different types of people, different races, family backgrounds, religions, political parties, income brackets, sexual orientations, they all had different hobbies, or interests, or senses of humor, it felt like PDC was the only thing uniting them. Eventually these guys became my friends, and the only thing that I wanted in my world was to become a brother. Once I made that decision it was all over, I moved into the house before rushing, I started recruiting people to rush with me, and eventually started making the first steps on a long journey.
During college the benefits of being in PDC were pretty obvious. I always had people to hang out with or study with, I was surrounded by people who just enjoyed my company and made me a better person. I would earn a bunch of new friends whenever a pledge class crossed in January, and I was able to meet alumni who had graduated years before. My work as and officer and on committees opened doors and got me involved with other organizations, and I put my name out there within the school and the profession at large. Whenever I was suffering academic problems or personal issues brothers were always there to help me in whatever way they could, and I got the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from helping people that basically became my second family in their time of need. Brothers got me 4 of the 6 jobs that I held during college, and seriously how do you buy beer without money? As much as I love travel I was never able to get anything going when I was in college except for PDC trips to places like Boston, Gatlinburg, Buffalo, West Palm Beach, Phoenix, and even beautiful Baltimore. On these trips I had a lot of chances to network (drink beer) with a lot of people from diverse backgrounds (southern girls) which frankly is all I ever wanted.
On rotations all the time I spent working on professional projects paid dividends. While many of my peers were struggling through their first window displays or health fairs I was coasting after years of learning from my mistakes. This made me look even better by comparison, and gave me a boost of confidence that allowed me to take on bigger projects. Through networking (drinking beer) with a lot of older successful people who are were district managers or vaccine hotshots (pun) or national officers I was able to walk into job interviews and realize that the hiring managers were more than their job title or fancy suit, but they were real people. Having a great resume and not being nervous or awe struck really gave me a boost when looking for my first job and even plays a roll in the projects that I tackle now.
Some people feel like fraternities are just for college, and I understand that, I applaud those who have settled down and started families and aren’t able to put in as much time as they want. I know a lot of my friends would love to be more active if they had time, but I also have friends who kind of walked out the door and said thanks for the memories its been good knowing you. Personally I feel that the greatest benefits of brotherhood happened in the nearly 4 years after graduation. I talk with a lot of people who I went to school with through work or facebook and naturally the “who have you seen” question comes up. They may see their college friends once a year or talk to them every once in a while. I on the other hand rarely go a day without getting a call or a text or a stupid snapchat from a brother from my chapter, and that is not counting the dozens of people that I met at PDC events and have managed to forge strong bonds with. Its an embarrassment of riches and I am thankful for it every day. Whenever I have something happen in my life, good or bad, I have experienced an out flowing of support from my brothers that makes everything better. Having traditions like Wingding (its April 12th) and Gatlinburg ensure that I have am able to meet up with most of my close friends a few times a year, and when we are together its almost like no time has passed. I could go on all day about the benefits that I have reaped as an alumni, but at this point it would probably just be bragging. With everything in life you get out of it what you put in, and since I was (and am) super committed on a chapter, regional, and national level I feel that I get a ton of amazing benefits that make my life worthwhile.
I have about a million stories but whenever I think of the greatest moment in my PDC journey I go back to August of 2006. It was a pretty strange summer for me. I failed out of ACP, took a roadtrip with my grandfather, saw Nickleback in concert (and god helped me liked it), started my burritos across the US quest, turned 21, and found myself questioning everything in my life. When I got the voice mail from Chris Gardiner, who was the main person who got me to start hanging out with PDC, that we won the Thurston cup I broke down and cried tears of joy. A few days later when it made its way back to Albany I found myself at 686 Park ready to celebrate. I still laugh to this day about the scene that we must have made. It was me, Lloyd, Goose, and Brad (maybe others, I’m a little foggy) and we wanted to drink out of the cup. Goose set out to buy the finest champagne that the liquor store had to offer, but that was $75 a bottle so instead he got 2 bottles of the finest $3.99 sparkling wine that the store had to offer. Apparently the landlord who lived downstairs was pissed about the noise at night so if we wanted to talk we had to go into the kitchen (this was before Goose and Lloyd saved his life but thats a story for another day). So there we are circled up in the kitchen holding a trophy cup while Goose struggles to pop the cork off this fine bottle of sparkling wine, which of course wound up being a twist off. For those of you who have never seen a Thurston cup it has a huge freaking lip on it that you can only overcome by opening your mouth and basically unhinging your jaw like a snake. We made it happen, but it was impossible to drink without some of this fine sparkling wine going up your nose. So there we are 4 pretty rugged looking guys, huddled in a kitchen, drinking from a giant trophy cup and giggling like school girls while shhhing each other so we don’t wake the landlord. I was questioning things in my life at the time, but I realized no matter what I wanted to keep PDC as a part of it.
It is not often that a decision that you make when you are 18 or 19 follows you around for the rest of your life in a good way. I suppose that at some point in time I will have to step away a bit, get on with my life and become a real grown-up, but right now its still fun so I’m going to enjoy the ride. Hopefully the next 50 years will be just as entertaining as the last 9 have been.
Leaders in Pharmacy, Brothers for Life
Alpha Theta #767
Grand Vice President of Chicken Wings and Beer