One of the big differences in being an adult in college — with kids, a mortgage and a goal of achieving something this time rather than just going to school to hide from the real world: you’re ticked when your class is cancelled for a day. Particularly when it happens on the first day of class.
This was my day 2. I had one class at the satellite campus that’s only about 25 minutes from my house (the real campus where I’m taking the rest of my classes is an hour 10 minutes away). I was excited to get to go the hometown branch. My adviser was thrilled that someone was taking this class. I jammed on my work for the day so I could wrap up everything that needed to happen for clients before class…and the instructor no shows.
If I had been a 19-year-old undergrad in Texas, I would have celebrated at happy hour. But I’m 52. And I’m in Utah. Which means I don’t even know where the bars are any more. K, that’s probably difference number two.
As an old person, I’m in class to learn. I’m not just doing time in my classes or jumping hoops — I save both of those for trips to the gym. I’m trying to get everything out of every last second and every last dime that I’m putting into this.
There are five other students in the class when I arrive. I’m two minutes late. No instructor. For the first few minutes, we all sit in silence. Then I start asking questions. Who are you? Why are you taking this class? What’s your major? Silence in public places freaks me out.
I learn that I’m the odd woman out in here – everyone else is studying elementary education, which I think would be cute and charming and utterly frustrating. Ask my kids: I’m not the sweet, motherly type. I still think the best part of their elementary years were the Cheezits I justified buying for their lunches.
“Mom, why do we never have Cheezits?”
“Shush, Mommy’s trying to zip her pants. I don’t know why they don’t fit anymore.”
I also learn that elementary ed students are on a super-tight track intended to ensure they graduate on time. Some of them need this class to happen at this very moment or they’ll be delayed another semester. They’ve bribed babysitters and workplaces to be here.
Finally someone tells us what’s happening, which amounts to “Go home. We don’t know where the instructor is.” I look the instructor up on LinkedIn and learn where he is right now: teaching at a local elementary school. I also find another section of the course that I can take, although it means I’ll be in class at the main campus, which is where I take most of my classes, even if it is approximately 1 hour away, for 10+ hours on Wednesdays. I almost sign up, but then have a change in heart. I’ll wait another day.
The next day, I ask the department what’s going on with the class at the satellite. They tell me they just found out that the time will have to change because the instructor can’t be there (I could have told them that yesterday). Oh and if I drop, they won’t have enough students to carry the class and all of the other students will have to find an alternative because no one wants to teach at the satellite campus.
So now it’s on me. I can stay with the class and when the hack instructor decides not to teach it or not to show up anymore, I get to be SOL (college makes me talk like it’s 1990), or I can take care of myself and sign up for a different section and those other five people will be SOL or get stuck driving an extra two hours to take this single class. Easy choice right? I should drop the class and ruin it for everyone. I get to be the asshole!
But I’m not cool with that.
Alright, if you were personally acquainted with me, you’d probably think, “Aren’t you normally an asshole?” Yeah, on the surface, I usually come across that way. I yell horrible things at dumbass drivers from the security of my SUV. I’m open and honest with my children, telling them that their shoes make them look like clowns or hookers or hooker clowns, remind them that they’re already a zit factory as they cram a candy bar down their gullets, make my son fold his laundry before he can rot his brain with video games (although Grand Theft Auto did teach him how to drive), tell my daughter that cats are already peeing on the towel she left on her bathroom floor. I create a stink until my cable TV provider gives me a discount, complain in stores when coupons aren’t added properly, once publicly outed a utility for an error in a promotional email because it was putting my $100 rebate at risk. I send hate mail and messages to politicians. And I think unicorns are dumb. I’m. An. Asshole.
But then you get to know me and you realize that it’s all show. Deep down, except for that unicorn thing, I really just want to see people be treated fairly (unicorns should be annihilated). If I forfeit my desired outcome because someone else’s seems more important, I just have to deal with it. I’d be the suckiest lawyer ever.
BTW, this kind of approach does nothing for your dreams of becoming a corporate executive. Back in my full-time marketing days — like two weeks ago — I watched people sprint up the corporate ladder with the help of lies and sketchy ethics. I knew I’d never make it to the top the day I told my boss at a late-stage tech startup that we had thousands of fake social media followers AND that someone had been creating fake websites that pointed to our site. When I reviewed his next presentation to the board touting our incredible social media growth and boost in Google search rankings, I realized he was the one purchasing all the fakes and that I’d never make it to the top if I kept approaching lies like a Boy Scout. I never even thought of making stuff up to make my work look better!
These are the kind of things that go through my head when I think I’m about to make an asshole move. I sweat the small stuff that I shouldn’t even be thinking about. Frequently that means I don’t decide anything.
This time, however, it’s different. I let my bank account and its abundance of zeros in all the wrong places, which cry of missed opportunity, make the decision. I drop the satellite class and enroll in the other one. Safe!
It’s empowering. I’m strong, invincible, capable of making a decision. All those “asshole” thoughts leave my head.
If only college had done this to me last time, I could be rich right about now.