Soldiers 'In-N-Out' of captivity

Campus Times
May 7, 1999

by Greg MacDonald
Editor in Chief

What a way to gain free publicity without having to purchase an ad, commercial or billboard.

No, I am not talking about the Papa John's promotion that ran in last week's Campus Times on page 13 in the baseball photograph. However, I have spoken with one of our advertising representatives, Simon W. Bouie, and he assures me that the invoice will be sent shortly.

I am referring to the plug for In-N-Out Burger during a time of war. Instead of saying she would bring him a great big, bear hug, Vivian Ramirez, whose son, Staff Sgt. Andrew Ramirez, was a prisoner of war (POW) in Yugoslavia, proclaimed to the world she would present her son with a double cheeseburger from the Baldwin Park In-N-Out.

Aside from the nationally-televised, cost-free commercial, Ramirez's mother has presented an idea for the University of La Verne students to make it through the end of the academic year, including finals.

Think about it. If Sgt. Ramirez can survive 33 days of torture, why can't ULV students survive the last three weeks of the semester? And yes, the soldiers were, in my observation, beaten, or they did get nearly enough sleep. Remember those bags under one of the soldiers eyes? Either those swollen eyelids were from a lack of rest and relaxation or from the back end of a pistol.

And what enabled Sgt. Ramirez to prevail? The thought of biting into a 670-calorie, double-cheese, grilled-onion, meat sandwich. OK, maybe he never thought of the world-famous burgers during his time as a POW, but his mother sure made it sound as if he used the thought as his guiding light.

Who can blame her? Those burgers are the best. (Oh no, another shameless advertisement.) However, if we, the ULV students, focus on driving up D Street after class for an In-N-Out burger, we may be able to survive the final 16 days of the semester.

I can see the parallels being drawn already. First, instead of being behind cell bars, the ULV population is behind classroom windows, which some may consider just as bad.

Second, the campus could be considered a base, much like the one in Yugoslavia, but without the machine guns, grenades, camouflaged guards, etc. Even the guards looking after the base have similarities to La Verne. Campus Safety and the La Verne Police Department come to mind.

Third, we have to pass daily tests for our own well-being and compete with fellow students for financial rewards, compared to the soldiers having had to endure the strain of battle and no access to a cheeseburger for the reward of freedom.

OK, ULV is not a military base, but focusing on a single goal may be the answer to surviving the wear and tear of captivity, er, the semester.

For some, the light at the end of the tunnel may be the knowledge that upon graduation, one will receive a big, shiny, silver car.

For others, earning a degree that leads to a high-paying job may be enough to motivate one to study harder for the coveted ULV diploma.

And for those like the released soldiers, desire to continue forward in all fields of life, despite how great the odds, may actually be the thought of In-N-Out burgers from the location in Baldwin Park.

In any case, Sgt. Ramirez's story should remind each individual to find what it is that makes him or her tick. Find that point at which one can do anything, like run through a brick wall, get straight As, survive captivity by thinking of a double cheeseburger, and situations may not seem so bleak.

So maybe Ramirez's mother did not try to advertise for In-N-Out, and instead, her commercial was a byproduct of her affection.

After all, she was just being a typical mother and making sure her son got what he loved, which, in this case, was a double cheeseburger.

And as for the free promotion In-N-Out received from this column, the Campus Times' bill is in the mail.

Greg MacDonald, a junior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at