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Sorry I Set Myself on Fire to Get to Class on Time




My name is Joel, but most of you probably don’t know me by that name. To you, I’m probably known as “The Fire Suit Guy,” one of those “guys” on the Grand Valley campus that you instantly know like “The Hoverboard Guy” or “The Cowboy Hat Guy.”


I live my life on a very careful, deliberate schedule. I study for two hours a night, I’m asleep at 1 a.m., and most of my classes are early in the morning. When they shut down the sidewalk outside Mackinac Hall, I panicked. I can’t lose sleep to wake up earlier and walk around the other side of the building, and Mackinac Hall is already incredibly crowded without the construction outside. How was I supposed to get to class without being late?


In hindsight, I should’ve expected that I would get a nickname like this when I bought a fire suit in order to safely light myself on fire to run through Mackinac Hall while screaming things like: “I’M ON FIRE! GET OUT OF THE WAY!!” to get to class on time. But it still surprises me to hear myself be called that. What was I supposed to do? NOT set myself on fire?


I had a brilliant idea to buy a fire suit. It would allow me to cut through the crowds, and it could serve as its own interesting psychology experiment. In my defense, there are no laws for setting yourself on fire at Grand Valley.


I pulled some money from my savings in order to buy the suit, and made sure to scream things like “OH GOD, THE FIRE!! IT BURNS!!” to warn passersby. As I ran, I saw scared faces and many snapback hats catch fire. My bad.


I want to take this opportunity to apologize to anyone I upset or offended by doing this. I kept the flames as under control as possible, and my friend Chris was always waiting outside the door holding a fire extinguisher so he could safely put me out before we finished our walk to class.


I know many students became upset with me as time went on (including those who carried buckets of water to douse me as I ran by, and the one student who built an ice suit and tried to do battle with me in the hallway), but I always did my best to make sure no one got hurt. To that guy whose backpack I accidentally melted, I’m incredibly sorry. To the snapback-wearers? You and your “hoverboard” deserved it.


For now, I’ve had an epiphany: I learned that I no longer need to Fire Suit (I’m willing to sell it for $200 OBO, by the way. Hit me up on Facebook if you’re interested), and also have had a class action lawsuit filed against me by students at GVSU. I think I’ve done the Laker community a service so that they can appreciate walking to classes without having to worry about a man on fire running by them. In my psychology experiment, Grand Valley, you all pass.


So, don’t call me “Fire Suit Guy.” Call me Joel.


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