I wrote a column about Frank Simons last year. In fact, Frank is just a pseudonym. I had to make the name up because the real person wanted to stay anonymous. I did check, though, to find out if there was someone known by that name. It would be so idiotic if a real-life Frank Simons is unfairly accused of having a certain attitude towards studying.
I do miss him as I reach home after a day's work. Gone are the crazy things which confronted me in the past, such as rooms with furniture in disarray. Or the bicycle in the shed, things like that. Frank was at home all day long. I won't forget the time he told me about having watched Gelderland Broadcasting teletext all day long. 'There you see images of a webcam pointed at a street', he said in a raised voice full of enthusiasm. 'Then a van pulled up suddenly and someone got out and lowered his pants. Caught in the act! Immediately, I mailed De Wereld Draait Door.' And so we sat in front of the tv set in the evening, tuned in to that programme, and waited in vain for that van, while a frustrated Frank took sips from a bottle of beer. Apparently, the producer considered a statement from Patty Brard more interesting than the result of Frank's entire day's work. Wow, I suddenly felt very useful then.
In the meantime, the futility in Frank's life has vanished. He paves roads, he digs and he makes plans, ignoring the bad winds of the economy. Actually, I'm a bit jealous of him. He started a construction company from scratch, right in the middle of a credit crisis, while I don't even have the courage to miss a lecture. His business is doing very well, I was told. Even the tax authorities are very satisfied with the money that Frank brings in. Frank deserves to have all his achievements and I wish him every success.
But of course, it's not a small matter either - after finishing your studies - to repay all your student debts.