***Editors Note (hahaha we all know I don't edit a thing): This was written back in the summer of 2015
I had my first day of real-life, in-person community college. Yep, that’s right. 31 year old me is dragging her exhausted butt to Chandler Gilbert Community College to sit in a room with twenty eighteen year olds and learn about the immense mysteries of biology. I get the thrill of doing this four days a week, five hours a day, for five weeks. (Imagine that last part choked out in a strangled whisper). Why I signed up for this unique form of torture I’m still not entirely sure, but I did. I suspect there are few things that make you feel old in the way listening to adorably naive conversations about majors and grad school and futures can. Please shoot me. I am begging you.
Firstly, I had to wake up at six a.m. Now, I realize that most of you, being functioning members of society capable of maintaining a job, mortgage etc, already wake up at six or even earlier. I, in stark contrast to all responsible adults, stay up and work until midnight or one a.m. every night and have been doing so for about two years. I usually wake up around seven thirty. Six a.m. is not my friend. Six a.m. is the evil succubus of my already starving soul.
But, despite my overly dramatic whining, I got there on time, of course, always unfashionably early. Myself and everyone waiting for the class had to do the requisite sitting outside the classroom silently while awkwardly peeking at each other, but not saying anything until the door was opened. My antisocial tendencies were in full swing, really supporting me in that moment. When the door finally was opened, this terrifying choice was thrust upon me. I had to pick my seat! I forgot about the pressure!! I mean, it’s not like you can change seats. Ever. Sure, there’s technically no seating chart, but can you imagine the chaos that would entail, after everyone has chosen if you then change and kick someone else out and they in turn kick another someone else out? Feelings would be hurt. Wars would be fought. Oh, and there was added pressure because the classroom is a lab classroom so wherever you sit, the people who sit with you are your lab group. They hold your grade in their annoyingly unwrinkled, elastin-filled palms. And faces. Ohhh, they’re just so young. I picked a seat at the front table. I’m a touch blind and more than a touch neurotic and controlling which means the front is really the only option. I was thinking, “Hey whoever sits here will do so because they are kind of a goody-goody like me, a conscientious student or whatever, so we should be good.”
No. Nope. Turns out, for the most part whoever sits there sits there because they are late and there’s nowhere else to sit. Awesome. Did not see that coming. But there wasn’t much time to think about it before we got a very beautiful lecture regarding not being a freaking child. It was a solid 45 minutes discussing, in-depth, the fact that you have to come to class. You can’t sit and text on your phone all through class. You shouldn’t be working on other things, other classes or whatever, during this class. If you miss class, it’s like missing a week of school both lecture and lab because it’s a fast-paced course. So you have to come to class. You need to bring your lab book because that is where you write your labs. And you need to come to class.
I was either listening to this diatribe the whole time or slamming my head against the table repeatedly. I can’t tell which because they both would have felt the exact same. The good news was that my worst fears were allayed, there would be no out-of-class group work. I don’t think I am alone in my genuine loathing of group work in general, but particularly projects or out-of-class garbage. Felt like I really dodged a bullet there.
We do, however, still have to do all labs as a group and this first one was… how do I put this… telling. It was a very difficult lab called “Measuring”. It required an extensive array of upper-level thinking skills. I mean, we had to figure out how to weigh 20 ounces of water AND measure the diameter of a penny in inches, centimeters AND millimeters. Not just any joe off the street can handle that kind of pressure. And, unfortunately, some in my lab group cracked under the pressure. For one kid, who we will call Curly, measuring in inches was totally doable but centimeters, on the same tiny clear ruler, were too much to handle. He had to pass the torch to someone else to get that done. Found out later he’s planning on going to med school. So watch out all you future doctors, the real competition is rarin to go.
There is one other girl in my group who is competent. We’re rounded out with our final member, a male ginger who just graduated high school the week before and seems nice enough, though a little intimidated by the change from high school class to college class.
I’m glad there’s no chance of them ever reading this.
There is one other very important aspect of college, or youth, that I had clearly forgotten or perhaps purposely erased from my memory, and that is how social it is! When we finally had a break I went out to eat a hard boiled egg (no food in the lab) and suddenly someone was asking me where the library was. Why do I look like I know where the library is? I don’t know where the library is. I told him I had no idea, apologized, etc. Well when he came back he told me where it was and gave me directions. Ummmm, I did not solicit this information. I don’t know why you are giving me this information, but I am unable to determine the appropriate response. So, being me, I just stared at him awkwardly and then forgot to speak and turned around and went inside. Not weird. I am not weird.
Well, I actually did end up needing to know where the library was, to go print the week’s notes after class. Thanks to the hipster punk kid I knew where it was. Too bad I didn’t tell him thanks. Or tell him anything at all. Oh well. When I got to the library the “information” desk attendant was on the phone so I went to the circulation desk and asked where there were computers I could print from. The lady looked at me like I was a moron, pointed behind me, and said, “There are computers right there.”
“Wow. Thanks for all that helpful information.” I said, before realizing I was speaking out loud. But you know my motto; say the wrong thing, say it the wrong way or don’t say anything at all.
When i turned around, thankfully, the hippie information attendant was off the phone and got me squared away. Now, again, to say I am socially awkward is like saying Charles Bukowski did drugs. It’s a touch of an understatement. Now, I don’t think I looked like an especially approachable person on that day but apparently I’m the only one who thought that. First, a kid walked up to me and asked me how to log into the computers. I told him, assuming that would be the end of it. Oh, no. It wasn’t. He went on to explain to me his entire life story including his biology degree and how he is doing another bachelors, but in web design or something. He carries on about how he just moved here from North Carolina and asked what my “major” was and what classes I am taking right now and on and on and on and on. I was completely trapped because my notes were all printing and I wasn’t going to leave them. But the kid never stopped talking. Then, I suddenly felt someone weirdly close to my back so I turn around and a woman is looking over my shoulder at my computer screen. What?
She asks me, “Hey did you guys hand in a lab today?”
“Ummmmm yes? Are you in my class or something?”
“No, I’m in the class after you. Are those the notes?”
OH MY GOD WHY DO YOU KNOW WHAT CLASS I AM IN?
“Oh, uh, ok do you have the same teacher?”
“No, a different teacher.”
WHAT THE HELL?
“Allllright, well I don’t know if we have the same notes or not. Sorry.”
During the whole conversation I had these creeped out, worried looks on my face which I was not capable of hiding. Stalker girl just kept going on.
Through the entirety of these exchanges, both with the kid who wouldn’t shut up about his entire life and the creepy stalker lady, I kept looking over at the hippie information guy and giving him looks like “What is happening?” and “Save me”. And that jerk just laughed!! He abandoned me, left me to fend for myself. I will never forgive him. As soon as my notes were done I stuffed them into my bag and bolted for the door, saying bye to the wind.
And that was my first day. And it was awful. And I get to go do it again. Repeatedly. I came home and locked myself in my house and didn’t speak to any peoples (except those little ones that live with me) for the rest of the day because my social capital was fully depleted. Bet you can’t wait to hear how this pans out!