Chatting with my Coworker
- Me: I think America's education system is messed up. I mean, I was an A student and I didn't even know what WWI was about for the longest time.
- Him: Yeah, I'm from Afghanistan, and we were at war for thirty years, so it's pretty hard not to know about that.
- Him: Did you have to take a lot of math for a Telecommunications degree?
- Me: No, but we have to take a foreign language.
- Him: Oh, well I already know about four or five languages.
- Me: Yeah, well, for Americans that's considered challenging.
- Him: (giggles)
1. “A laptop cord for a Mac” or what we commonly refer to as a Macbook charger.
2. “That tape player that flips up and says Sony on it” which is really a mini DV tape player.
3. “One of them strip plugs” is what I like to call a surge protector or maybe even a power strip.
On Wednesday, April 10th at approximately 6:30 pm, my beloved iPhone 4 fell out of my pocket and into a deep puddle during a thunderstorm. The volume buttons do not currently work, and it no longer plays music. I can only hear calls when on the speakerphone function. And I’m pretty sure the water damage indicator has been activated or whatever.
It is being treated in an intensive care unit of rice in a Ziploc bag overnight.
I was looking forward to upgrading my phone in the fall. Now, I fear I will have to replace mine with an iPhone 4s and be locked into a bone chilling two year contract with AT&T prematurely. Two years is a long time. I’m terrified of a two year contract. I’m not prepared to sign a two year contract with anyone or anything.
Now, I’m down in the dumps. Did my iPhone 4 hear me talking about my upgrade plan and try to make the great escape by leaping out of my pocket and into that puddle? I may never get the chance to know for sure.
I’m sorry, iPhone 4. I love you.
…Rob Kardashian, baby bro to Kourtney, Kim, and Khloè, is still designing men’s dress socks for a living? Just curious about how that worked out for him.
Charlie Chaplin in The Gold Rush.
A few weeks ago, I sat in a writing class taking a quiz over a reading assignment. The guidelines of this quiz were laid out in the syllabus for all to read and understand months prior. Questions would not be repeated for late arrivals. If you were late, you missed the quiz points. The silver lining to this situation was that, throughout the semester, we would be offered more quiz points than we needed for an A, so if you missed a quiz you weren’t doomed to fail or anything.
The group of fifteen or so students sat in a horseshoe shape with the professor calling out questions at the front of the room. Class began at three in the afternoon. We were all awake, pleasant, happily recalling details of a few short stories. Ten minutes in, a late classmate arrived and pulled out her quiz paper. She had missed five questions, with only five more to go. As the entire class finished answering a rather open-ended tenth question, the girl raised her hand.
“Could you repeat questions one through five?”
“I’m sorry. I don’t repeat questions when students are late,” the professor said succinctly but not rudely.
The entire class looked back down at our papers and continued writing. Suddenly a flurry of noise and movement headed toward the door. It was the girl.
“Where are you going?” the professor asked.
The girl whipped around in the doorway with her backpack hanging from one shoulder and her phone in her hand. She always had her phone out on her desk in lieu of books or notebooks or even pencils. As I diligently copied down the wise words of the teacher, she refreshed her Twitter feed. Constantly.
“I just came here for the quiz, and if I can’t even get all the points, I’m leaving!”
“Well, I’m sorry, but those were the rules laid out at the beginning —”
“The bus was ten minutes late, my mom’s in the hospital, and I really just don’t need to mess with this right now!” the girl yelled out. She bobbed her head and swung her hands as she spoke. She never let the professor finish a single sentence. Is her mom really in the hospital? Was the bus late or was she running late?
“Again, I’m sorry, I didn’t know that, but it’s okay because —”
“No, seriously, I don’t need this. It’s a waste of my time…” She trailed off as she swung around and slammed the heavy wood door. The small glass windowpane rattled and the clunky metal doorjamb screamed.
Before she made it out the door the class had already started to react to the scene. Some of us drew deep breaths, others gasped at the loud noise, a few chuckled incredulously. The class made small talk about the situation for a few moments, before the professor simply said, “Just so you know, you should never slam the door in class like that.”
As I walked to the next class meeting after the incident, I wondered about the girl’s situation. Would she withdrawal from the class or show up again? Would she pretend like nothing happened? Did the teacher have a discussion with her about the incident? Had she lied about why she was late to class? Did she realize she overreacted? That five points meant nothing in the grand scheme of things?
I was already sitting in my seat when the girl walked in and sat in a desk in the front corner of the room. Right next to the professor. I wondered if she made the girl sit there, as part of some kind of agreement. The class started with another reading quiz. This time we made it through twelve of fourteen questions before a different girl walked in the door. She began to take the quiz, but the professor told her it was almost over and it was better to skip it altogether. The girl said “okay” and acted like everything was fine. I looked at the first girl all the way at the front of the class and noticed the vast difference between their reactions. I also noticed books and notebooks and even pencils scattered on her desk. I didn’t see her phone. I bet the teacher had a talk with her.
At the end of class the professor walked by the second late girl, the one who was cool about the whole thing.
“Was the bus late or something like that?” she asked.
“Yeah, well kind of, I guess one of the buses broke down so they were running late.”
“Ah, well I’m sorry about that.”
“Yeah, it’s okay. It’s no biggie.”
I wondered if shame washed over the first girl sitting, fittingly, in the corner of the classroom. I didn’t feel bad for her because she had always been the one to say rude comments to other classmates. She ignored the teacher every day and stared at her phone. She was not a positive presence in a creative writing classroom that in many ways was run like a therapy group. But I was reminded that we all do stupid, shameful things in public, sometimes to people we know and love and sometimes to strangers and sometimes to people we are slightly acquainted with who will only remember that solitary moment about us if anything at all.
A month and a half until graduation and I’ve not yet bought my cap and gown. I told my mom I don’t want to send out announcements or have a party. I’m walking in the graduation ceremony, but the only reason I’m going is to have the experience and accompanying memories. I feel no sense of accomplishment.
I feel the bill being printed on paper and stuffed in an envelope and put in the mail and arriving at the doorstep of my cardboard box home and my spine shivering as I realize I must now pay back my student loans. I must pay for all the times I went to class sick so I wouldn’t miss anything important, only for nothing important to happen that day. I must pay for listening to some of my professors give thinly veiled rants about one of our culture’s many faults that was really about some personal issue they were experiencing. I must pay for all the times I thought for sure I was going to shit my pants before class was dismissed and no I couldn’t just get up and leave early because then everyone would’ve known I had to shit.
And I could sit here and claim that I’m really going to miss all that because that’s the big revelation most people would expect but I’m actually really happy it’s all over. College wasn’t that great for me. It was tough. This was not an era of my life in which I thrived. And I don’t regret it. I don’t regret going to college and I don’t regret not thriving in it. Because that’s how it was meant to go for me. But I’m happy it’s over and only feel anxiety about moving on from it because changes are happening. And in only 47 days. And I don’t know what those changes will be except for no homework and no classes and no running into my professors at Red Lobster among other random places.
Everyone acts so surprised or disappointed or confused or holier-than-thou when they find out I have no concrete plans for my life after college. When people ask me about my future, I let out a huge sigh that both expresses my distaste for the topic and hopefully makes that person pass out upon smelling my breath so I don’t have to answer. When that doesn’t work, I babble on about my latest ideas in a way that ends up sounding like I have no clue what I want to do. Which is really what I should just say from the get-go. “Not sure, looking for jobs now, I’ll get back to you!”
And when people ask me what I majored in it’s a useless question, because some of the best stuff I learned in college had more to do with life than it did with my major. Plus, a bunch of old people at my church don’t even know what Telecommunications means so I have to babble even more about a topic I don’t care to discuss. Then, after all that babbling, it’s so rewarding to watch the look on people’s faces when I essentially tell them I studied film and creative writing. “Poverty,” they wish they could say. “You studied how to live in poverty for the rest of your life.” Then I would say, “YES I DID AND, BETTER YET, I WENT INTO DEBT WHILE DOING SO. GOOD DAY SIR.”
Anyway, I guess I’m graduating college in 47 days. I majored in Telecommunications: Film & Television Studies and minored in Creative Writing. I wrote a column for the school magazine my senior year. I discovered my two favorite authors and virtually all my favorite filmmakers during these four years. I met one of my idols and was really quiet and shy and don’t regret being quiet and shy but regret the way my hair looks in the picture. I have not shit my pants in class (but there’s still time for that). I have mostly figured out what I want my life to be, I just haven’t figured out what I want to do.