DYSTOPIA–Though he has never taken a college class himself, 23-year-old Sam Smartt is a popular figure in the Dystopia College community, especially among English Department students and faculty, who refer to him affectionately as “Synopsis Sam.”
Despite his lack of college education, Smartt, who tends bar at the Dead Albatross, a pub on the college “strip,” has read “just about everything” and has a phenomenal memory for the written word.
“That dude has saved my life so many times,” said senior English major Rich Kidd, who concedes that he sometimes doesn’t get all his reading done for class. “I like to read up to a point,” Kidd said, “but that’s the downside of being an English major–there are just so many damn books.”
When Kidd is a bit behind on his work, he always drops by the Alby for a beer and a chat with Smartt. “Dude has read every book on every syllabus,” Kidd says. “When I haven’t read and I need a quick summary, Sam’s the man. He can tell me what I need to know about pretty much any book.”
Even professors sometimes avail themselves of Smartt’s services, according to English Prof. Owen Hornblower, who admits that there are one or two literary classics he hasn’t got around to yet, “like, you know, the really big books, the ones with lots of pages.”
“When I have a morning class the next day and I realize the night before that I’m teaching one of the ones, I haven’t read, I know I can come by here and Sam will pour me a whiskey and give me the gist of whatever it is. It’s a real time-saver.”
Asked how he has been able to read so many more books than the English students and faculty, Smartt says he attributes it to choosing not to attend college. Although he made the decision at least partly for financial reasons, he says it proved to be a good call. “See, the college kids and profs don’t have time to read because they’re running around going to classes and meetings and such, and then needing to come over here to get drunk and forget about them.”
Since he doesn’t have to waste valuable time sitting in classrooms and rarely has a meeting–“the boss just comes by the bar if he needs to tell me something; otherwise, I just look after myself”–he has more time. “And I mostly work nights,” he said, “so I can spend most of the day lying in my hammock and reading, and since that’s not very stressful, I don’t have to get drunk like they do, and they probably helps with the memory thing,” he said.
T. Allen Culpepper