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A new kind of class warfare

The night course Im taking this quarter meets once a week for four hours, and while that might sound like a long time to sit in a single class, its actually a punishingly long time to sit in a single class especially considering that we meet on Monday nights. Whats so bad about Monday nights? Well, as everyone whos ever read Garfield knows, Monday is the worst day of the week (and who are we to disagree with Americas fattest cats arbitrary assessment of a given days value?). But my Monday night class isnt as mind numbing as it could be, because the professor gives us a 15 minute break at the halfway point. Last week, I used this break to step outside and make a phone call. When I finished, I glanced at the gym-teacher style stopwatch I always carry on the off chance Im ever asked to officiate an impromptu hundred-meter dash and saw that I still had seven minutes and 19 seconds of break left. Rather than waste that time scrawling swear words on the side of the building in pink sidewalk chalk (as was my wont), I decided to head inside and start the next weeks reading assignment. Sadly, the fates opted to deny me the simple, wholesome pleasure of the written word for when I tried to open the door to the building, it wouldnt budge. I yanked on the cold steel handle a few times, refusing to believe what my brain was telling me: I was locked out, and I was going to miss the rest of class. I was, my brain insisted, going to spend the next two hours sitting outside this door, hugging my knees to my chest, muttering incoherently, and crying until the snot ran freely. Then, when my classmates filed out at ten-thirty, Id slink upstairs to the classroom to get my backpack. The teacher would still be there, and hed demand to know where Id been. You see, sir, Id say, cringing, its like this, sir. I well, I was locked out at break time, sir, and I couldnt get back in. The teacher would laugh and hurl an eraser at my face, nailing me in the forehead and sending me stumbling back into my desk. You expect me to buy that, you insolent moron? hed ask, not giving me a chance to answer. Well, I dont. You shall receive an F in the course! Then hed take his briefcase and his tweed jacket with the leather elbow patches and his graying ponytail and walk briskly from the room. Id curl up on the floor in the fetal position, my tears mixing with the chalk dust on my cheeks, making me look vaguely like a member of the Cure. According to my stopwatch, I spent two-minutes and eight seconds dreaming up this disturbing scenario, all the while staring blankly at the well-lit hallway on the other side of the glass door. Abruptly, I realized I could see straight through to the halls opposite end. Perhaps, I thought, the door over there wasnt locked. I ran around the building, skidded to a halt in front of the door, and tugged on the handle. No luck. As I banged my forehead weakly against the glass, two cigarette-smoking students materialized out of the shadows to my right. Because they were ensconced in a cocoon of bluish smoke, I couldnt make them out very clearly I could only tell that one was male and the other female. The young man hung back and kept quiet. The young woman spoke. You must use the side entrance, she said, her voice a papery croak. She and her companion turned simultaneously, pointing around the corner. You must punch in the code to open the door. And she gave me the code, which Im forbidden to repeat under penalty of having my soul sucked out through my ears and shattered into a billion pieces by the terrible wrath of the universitys Dean of Door Codes. I thanked my ghostly saviors and, code committed to memory, headed to the side door. The code, it turned out, wasnt necessary, as a clever passerby had propped the door open with a brick. I smiled, ashamed of my earlier mental histrionics. I shouldve remained calm and considered my options. But I didnt have time to chastise myself, because, according to my stopwatch, I had less than a minute to get back to class. I tore up four flights of stairs, taking the steps two at a time, and burst into the classroom, breathless and sweating. And, it turned out, ten minutes ahead of the professor. When he walked in calmly, as if he hadnt a care in the world he apologized, saying hed gotten caught up in a phone call. But after all Id been through, that wasnt good enough. This guy wasnt a real teacher, I thought, shaking my head. Real teachers gotta have class, and this guy, he didnt have no class no class at all. Dan Leonidas makes shallow observations. He can be reached at dpleonidas@yahoo.com or myspace.com/lastminuteconcerns.

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