FM Imagines: A Day with Stephen Lassonde

Gaining an audience with the mighty Local Emergency Management Team Leader Supreme, All-Knowing Weather Aficionado Dean of Student Life Stephen Lassonde was not easy.

The following letters have been arranged to describe a completely imaginary scenario inspired by the recent real emails from Dean of Student Life Stephen Lassonde. Please do not attempt to receive consultation from Lassonde regarding your recent decision to bring a winter guide into your life.

The winter guide peels off our ice-encrusted blindfolds. We blink in the sudden wash of light that overwhelms our delicate senses. The sun reflects off the frozen crust of snow covering the earth, illuminating the dark structure that looms before us. A sophisticated array of equipment juts off of the roof, stretching into the sky like a twisted, metal cobweb. The guide turns to us and says, “He will see you now.”
Ben swallows audibly. “Phillip, I don’t think we’re in Harvard anymore.”
Gaining an audience with the mighty Local Emergency Management Team Leader Supreme, All-Knowing Weather Aficionado Dean of Student Life Stephen Lassonde was not easy. But after months of negotiations, weeks of planning, and days of travel we have arrived at his hidden base armed with little more than a manila folder of email warnings and a vague image of the man behind the curtain.
Stephen Lassonde has his back to us as we enter. We stomp the impossible Boston winter off our boots onto his decorative doormat displaying the helpful message, “Please be sure to cover all exposed areas to prevent frostbite.” His lair is impressive; the walls are lined with screens linked to all the weather channels, and he sits behind an impressive control panel with buttons ranging from Shuttle Service and HUDS to Make-Up Exams and Student Activities.
Phillip clears his throat to break the silence. “Mr. Lassonde, we appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to see us.”
He, Stephen Lassonde, gives us a weary look. “There is a weather emergency, and you should exercise caution when traveling. Please wear the appropriate clothing including: winter coats, hats, gloves/mittens, boots, etc.”
Ben smiles nervously and gives Phillip a sidelong glance. “Sure, uh, thanks for the tip. We were just wondering, well, I mean, the people were wondering…” Stephen Lassonde stares back with all-knowing eyes. The tension in the room is thick enough to cut with a knife. “Anyways, what does it take for school to get canceled?”
“Winds gusting to 30 miles per hour and temperatures below zero.” The reply is snappy, almost rehearsed.
“Wow, it does have to be pretty cold,” says Phillip, squirming uncomfortably under Stephen Lassonde’s intense stare. “Hey, aren’t the temperatures tomorrow supposed to drop that low?”
His eyes flit briefly to one of the monitors, but we are at once overwhelmed with the impression that it’s all just for show. Stephen Lassonde doesn’t need to consult the news for his forecast. “Monday and Tuesday mornings’ temperatures will be below zero, with windchills reaching below -25 degrees, so please be very careful when you go outside.”
“Of course! We wouldn’t think of being anything but careful,” Ben replies cautiously. “So, will school be canceled tomorrow?”
Without speaking, Stephen Lassonde looks down at his control panel and begins pressing the buttons. There is a sense of grace and poise that undercuts each motion. In this moment he, Stephen Lassonde, seems more conductor than Dean. One of the screens turns to a real-time video feed of Harvard Yard. When his long, slender finger comes down on the button label Shuttle Services, we see the buses immediately screech to a halt.
Our phones buzz with an email, “University Closed Tomorrow PLEASE READ.” When we look back up, Stephen Lassonde has turned away, his attention focused on the flickering screens and eldritch controls that lie in front of him.
Our time is up. As the cold fabric is lowered over our eyes, we hear one last haunting refrain.
“Dear Harvard College Students, please don’t hesitate to call me, Stephen Lassonde. Sincerely, Stephen Lassonde, Dean of Student Life.”