By Matthew Prunk '16.
What is being Anselmian? Yes, I know you know the answer, and I also know that you’ve heard it at least a thousand times throughout freshman orientation and around campus. What about off campus, though? Anselmian spirit and hospitality is not something that stops at the entrance to Saint Anselm Drive, it is something that every student who passes through here is permanently embodied with.
One of those things that you do because you go to Saint A’s is eat at the Red Arrow Diner in downtown Manchester. It’s a cozy little dive that is open 24 hours a day, and it is always filled with locals and regulars.
One night my friends and I went to the Red Arrow and we sat along the counter in the only four seats available. We were talking about Saint Anselm College and our plans for the year, and sitting next to us was a married couple. They noticed our Saint A’s apparel, and we began talking.
As luck had it we had sat down next to Dr. Robert Pinard, a Saint Anselm alumnus from the class of 1979. We talked about his time here at Saint Anselm, the changes to the campus and the presidency, as well as our plans for our futures after graduation.
What started out as small talk soon turned into an hour-long conversation right there in the Red Arrow Diner. Eventually Dr. and Mrs. Pinard paid their check, said goodbye, and left the restaurant. My friends and I stayed a bit longer, laughing about how small the world is and how neat it was to have found a Saint Anselm graduate. What struck me most, however, was what happened next.
“As I sat there in the Red Arrow, I realized that I should pay it forward in the Anselmian fashion, keeping Dr. Pinard’s kind gesture alive.”
Our waitress came over and told us that our checks had already been paid. Confused, we asked her why and she replied that the Pinards had already paid for our meal before they had left.
That’s when I understood.
This couple who we had never met before had gone out of their way to be kind, generous, and warm to my friends and me knowing full well that we would probably never meet again. It was clear to me then, no matter how “cheesy” it may sometimes sound, that Anselmian hospitality and Anselmian spirit are things that are real and alive.
Being Anselmian is a bond that every student and graduate of Saint Anselm shares in common. Being Anselmian is not simply something you are for four years until commencement; it is something that follows you throughout your life and makes you part of an exclusive group of citizens.
Dr. Pinard is a member of this community and even though his graduation was 30 years ago, his Anselmian spirit is still strong. He didn’t have to do what he did, but he made a choice to continue to foster the Anselmian hospitality that he learned while he was here.
As I sat there in the Red Arrow, I realized that I should pay it forward in the Anselmian fashion, keeping Dr. Pinard’s kind gesture alive. All four of us asked for our bills anyway, and we each left a tip for the waitress equivalent to the full price of our meals. Needless to say, it made her night.
“As our banners move across the rafters of Davison Hall way too quickly for our taste, we should all remember that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves.”
Everyone should try to be more like Dr. and Mrs. Pinard, and as our banners move across the rafters of Davison Hall way too quickly for our taste, we should all remember that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves. Each and every one of us is an Anselmian, a member of a community for life.
Perhaps we were all there at the Red Arrow for a reason; maybe we were all meant to meet. No one will ever know for sure, but we can at least start a new joke about five Anselmians walking into a bar.
Matthew Prunk is an international relations major from Farmington, Conn. This article was written for The Saint Anselm Crier while he was the student newspaper’s culture editor.