School and Scruffy Strangers

Ha! Say that title three times fast!

So, the quarter just started this week, and I have problems in all of my classes. Fabulous.

1. Intro to Communications: Apart from not knowing exactly what this class is actually about, I don’t happen to have the book. This is a problem. I blame Amazon. It’s actually my fault for not ordering it earlier, but I don’t care. I’m going to blame them anyway. This morning my teacher, who looks exactly like Yubaba, the bath-house witch from the Hayao Miyazaki film, Spirited Away (and I am completely serious)  informed me that I would be getting an absence if I showed up to class without it tomorrow. Thus, today I learned how to make photocopies. Lots of photocopies. While I was waiting in line for the copy machine, I noticed a couple of Chinese guys behind me, so I busted out my rusty Mandarin. I don’t look Chinese, so it was still semi-impressive. That really has nothing to do with anything.

2. History of the Middle East: I’m not sure exactly why I’m taking this class. My adviser told me to, so I did. This class I really do like. My teacher has an awesome accent and a great sense of humor — unless you’re late. You come in late, and an ominous silence fills the room. Dr. Othman stops lecturing. He fixes you with a penetrating, eagle eye.

Then: “You know, you late! You need to be on time. You cannot just come in when you feel like it. It disrupts the class when his or her majesty strolls into the class, ten minutes late. You don’t like it, you drop the class. . . ”

If the unfortunate fool stammers an apology, it’s “No no no! No “sorry”! You need to be on time!

If he avoids eye-contact, it’s “Ey! Ey! Look at me! Look at me! You need to be on time!

The only real problem for Middle Eastern History is a guy I call Mo. I’ve mentioned him before. He’s the guy who I think is either trying to convert me to Islam, or ask me out on a date . . . or both, I don’t know. Anyway, he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, but . . . no. Not for me.

I’m most likely over-reacting about the whole thing. I just don’t like confrontations. I don’t want to have to tell him that I’m not interested. So, instead, I have made a fabulous plan: I run away.

Every day, about 10 minutes before I think Dr. Othman is going to let us out, I start packing up my stuff. As soon as he says, “Okay, see you tomorrow.” I jump up, grab my stuff, and bust my way out of there, elbowing people out of the way to get out the door first. Then, I speed-walk down the hall until I’m pretty sure he can’t catch up, then hide in the cafeteria to eat my lunch.

My mother thinks I’m crazy. I think she’s right.

3. Chemistry: Not counting the bizarre schedule (T, Th, F, 12-2, W, 11:30-2), chemistry is just a little frustrating. Everyone I know who has taken this class says that it’s obscenely easy to get a 4.0. They failed to mention, however, the teacher’s accent. Don’t get me wrong; I love accents. I’m even pretty good at deciphering them. This one is different. It kills me. Mr. Chemistry Teacher not only has a very thick accent, but he also speaks very, very softly. He’s a really cute old guy, and he reminds me of a benevolent and slightly wilted cabbage. I don’t know why. I just wish I knew what he was saying.

I would be feeling very stressed and sorry for myself. But I can’t. Why? Because yesterday I was standing in line to buy a copy card (to copy the library’s copy of my communications book. If you look at the word “copy” for too long, it starts looking really strange). Anyways, I found that I was about 26 cents short. I was about to go away in shame and degradation, too poor to buy a copy card, and resign myself to the fate of losing participation points. But then, the scruffy, middle-aged man behind me whipped out his wallet and gave me a dollar. I didn’t ask him to. I wasn’t talking loudly. He just did it. Wasn’t that nice? I don’t even know his name or remember his face.

How can I complain about weird teachers, over-friendly guys, or my own un-preparedness, when God sends scruffy strangers to help me out when I’m short 26 cents?

I can’t!




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