Two young Sociology students, Mary Davidson and Erik Vold, found more than they bargained for while attempting to find their professor’s room during office hours last week.
Lost and looking for directions, they turned to one of the few people in the area who didn’t look too busy to be asked a question. This was a man with a long beard and raggedy clothes. According to Davidson and Vold, the man was mumbling to himself and licking the crumbs from a Doritos bag.
“We thought he was a professor or maybe some kind of hipster janitor,” explains Vold. But this was not the case. The presumed hipster janitor was actually Jake Tosl, a UVic grad student who had been missing since January 2012.
“He was so excited to finally talk to another human being,” recalls Davidson. Tosl had been wandering in both of the Cornett wings, hopelessly lost ever since he dashed into the A wing to grab an issue of Geographical magazine from a friend.
“I never go into the building. I just wanted something to read on the bus ride home,” Tosl recalls. He survived by digging food out of the trash and stealing snacks from staff rooms after hours. This surprisingly gave him better nourishment than his student diet. “Although I was lost, I certainly wasn’t living off of Ramen noodles. People throw away entire apple cores!” he says. Tosl slept in the men’s room stalls at night. “I’m so glad I took that survival in the wilderness class in my undergrad,” Tosl states. “I was able to apply many lessons from it, including how to identify spoiled food and how to fight off bears. But instead of bears, they were janitors.”
When asked why he never asked for directions, Tosl explained no one ever paid attention to him, aside from the janitors who chased him away from garbage bins. “I did approach students occasionally, but they were always headed to class with their headphones in their ears and never heard me,” he says. Although Tosl’s parents are happy to have him home after all these months, their worry still hasn’t disappeared. “We just don’t want this to happen to other students. What if there are more students lost in there?” Tosl’s father asks. “How could someone create such a complicated, monstrous piece of architecture?”
Tosl is just happy to be home. “I’m looking forward to finishing my master’s in Geography,” he says. Tosl specializes in GIS technology and hopes to navigate the world’s most uncharted forests once done his degree.