Most students who arrive in the Dining Hall early in the morning to get a hot cup of coffee or finish that last-minute assignment have likely stopped to say “good morning” to Bruce MacConnell.
Bruce, who has been working at Deerfield for 27 years now, has developed a reputation for warmly greeting students every day and wishing them well on their way.
In my experience, Bruce always tells me a joke, which brightens my mood no matter how busy I know the school day will be.
Recently, as I was making a cup of tea, Bruce approached me and asked, “How do you catch a unique rabbit?”
“How?” I responded.
“Unique up on it! How do you catch a tame rabbit?”
“Tame way, unique up on it!” Sometimes, he’ll even attribute his source: “I got that from a five year old,” he chuckled.
When I sought Bruce out in the crowded Parker Room to talk to him, he was on his lunch break, about to sit down with a plate of macaroni and cheese in one hand and a crossword puzzle in the other.
Between bites of his meal, Bruce described his life growing up in Westborough, a small town in Worcester County, Massachusetts, where he enjoyed playing football in high school.
Bruce joined the Deerfield community in 1989 – the same year that the school went co-ed. During his first year, he worked in the custodial department doing the overnight shift in the Memorial Building, which was rumored to be haunted.
“One night, I was cleaning the [Hess] lobby, when all of a sudden I heard crashing piano chords coming out of the auditorium,” he recounted. “I figured that when I opened those doors, there’d better be a…security guard with a beard by the piano or I’m outta here!”
Bruce later went on to work at Shipping and Receiving for about seven years before joining the dish crew, which is a position he still holds.
Bruce stressed that working on dish crew isn’t easy. “[I]t’s dirty. It’s hot. It’s smelly,” he said. “I mean, the kids are the best part of the job.” Anyone who knows Bruce knows that he makes a point of getting to know students.
“I’m sixty-seven now, which is only nineteen degrees Celsius! I think that’s why I get along with the kids so good,” he joked, “[because] I’m a nineteen year-old, trapped in a sixty-seven year-old body! Now, if it were me in a nineteen year-old body, I’d be way awesome!”
Last spring, Bruce even gave me a fist bump for good luck my senior year.
“[A] bunch of years ago,” Bruce explained, “there was this one kid, and I [said], ‘so you got bumped up to a senior,’ and he says ‘yeah,’ so I gave him a senior fist bump… I started calling it the fist bump of good fortune.”
Bruce would also joke, “If you didn’t get one, you would have to spend a PG year at Choate!”
As Uwa Ede-Osifo ’18 commented, “When I go up to clear my plate, I can always count on Bruce being there to make my day.” She also mentioned that, if you don’t know Bruce yet, it’s never too late to introduce yourself.