I sprinted ten yards, stopped immediately to a brisk walk for a few paces and then sprinted again for another ten yards. I hadn’t even finished the first week of summer classes and I was already late to my first class.
I had an early morning English 101 class, an introductory General Education class, that everyone had to take, and my teacher had been slow to finish up. It wasn’t a problem for the rest of the class—they were done with classes until the afternoon—but I had to hike across campus to get to my next class, an introductory Chemistry class.
(Let me say right off the bat, I have no idea why I was in the class. I should have been as far away from Chemistry as you can get, think Day versus Night; East Coast versus West Coast; Disney versus Independent filmmakers; Big Bird versus Howard Stern; you get the idea. Yet, I still found myself in the class.)
From cap and gown to freshman nerves
Three weeks earlier I had been finishing up high school, dressed neatly in cap and gown and now I was a college freshman walking in fifteen minutes late to class. My college liked to accept a small number of first-year students in the summer to help soothe the transition to college. We would supposedly meet faculty members, work closely with our adviser, and have an opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the campus, before the wave after wave of other students.
I remember getting the acceptance, happy that I had earned my way in, but sad that I had to miss out on all the fun that my friends from home had planned for the summer. I was certain that I was going to miss out on a summer to remember.
In the end, it was the best thing for me. I learned so much that summer. Mostly, I learned that I was resilient and needed to believe in my dream. The experience helped me in other ways too.
- I got to focus for the first time on true time management. My schedule had been created for me much of the past. For the first time, I got to really take control of my life.
- I made lifelong friendships, but, more important, I learned to be careful too, recognizing that not everyone had the same goals, values, and priorities as me.
- I learned that I could be on my own. I could make something of myself.
At that particular moment though, I wanted to curl-up in my bed at home with no real demands, no place I needed to be and to sleep until noon. I dreamed how nice that would be as I sprinted the final twenty yards.
My Chemistry teacher had spent much of the first class going over the syllabus and telling us how we were free to attend as many or as few classes as we wanted, but he was free then to dock us as many points as he wanted. He figured that if he had to be teaching in the middle of a beautiful summer day, we better as heck be seated in class with rapt attention.
And of course, I was now going to be late.
I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date
I took one last breath, walked through the door and slid into my seat, hoping the professor overlooked my absence. Of course, he looked up from his notes and called out my name before my butt had even got settled into the fold of the wooden seat.
“So very nice of you to join us today after all Brian. I’m glad that you could make it, after what I’m sure was a lovely night,” he said, being sure to put special sarcastic bite on the final phrase.
I wanted to sink into the floor, but I decided to face my professor head on. I apologized for being late. He tried to shush me, but I made sure to squeeze in that I was coming from class. I didn’t want him to think that I had overslept.
The professor took another look at me and as if to test me and asked where I was running from. When I stammered out my answer, he let out a huge laugh. “Professor Dawkins, right.”
I shook my head correct. “Yes, yes, I imagine you’re going to be late a few more times this semester. She sure loves her English grammar and she loves to run her classes long. But, I’ll betcha $10 right now, that you’ll never use ‘your’ again when you mean ‘you are.’”
He knew my teacher and he was right: All these years later, I’ve never confused the two. Now, if just a little bit of Chemistry had stuck in my brain from that summer, then I might have an entirely different story to tell.
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