As I said in my previous post, it is usually the little things that I remember the most, like the small victories. One such victory happened on our last day in the field. Our goal was to finish all of the remaining excavations in the quadrant in which we were working. There was only one burial left before we were completely done, when a loud clap of thunder interrupted our work. We were informed that large storm system was heading our way, and we only had a few minutes to evacuate the work site. We were only a few shovels-full of dirt away from our finishing point, and yet we were told that it would soon be unsafe to continue.
At this point I should mention that every day we took an end-of-the-day photograph. We would all line up, hold up our fingers indicating the number of days in the field and smile for the camera in celebration of a hard day of work. On this day in particular the photograph was much less cheerful than normal. We were all frustrated that we had come so close and were now being forced to leave. The range of expressions on our faces varies from sad and disheartened to outright rage. With the impending tempest nearly upon us, we begged Dr. Latham to plead for a few more minutes. After a short bit of coaxing and prodding we were begrudgingly allotted 20 more minutes after checking the local radar, to which I excitedly responded, “Forget that, we’ll do it in 10.” (Choice words may have been “edited” for appropriateness.)
The group took flight with all of the speed and fervor of a swat team. Most of what I remember is a hurried haze. There was plenty of shouting and running, but not a single ounce of effort went to waste. Every one of us seamlessly moved around each other like a school of feeding fish. Within five minutes we had finished removing the soil on the surface of the burial, and within ten minutes the remains were out of the ground.
You learn a lot about people by how they react when the chips are down. If we hadn’t finished that last burial we would have ended on a sour note, and we would have been eternally haunted by our failure. Without hesitation, every single member of the team placed themselves in front of the storm. There was never a question about whether or not we should finish, we just needed that little bit of time. We took another end-of-the-day photo to celebrate our victory. I believe that these two photos show the true dedication and passion of all of us. When a storm blocked our path, we showed that UIndy students are truly a force with which to be reckoned.