October 19, 2009

Show Me What I'm Looking For

I like to be prepared for anything and everything.  When going to the beach, I’m always the one to remember sunscreen, towels, an umbrella, water bottles, and even more sunscreen.  When I attend a Broadway show, I make sure to tuck an extra Sharpie in my purse, just in case one runs out right before getting Laura Bell Bundy’s autograph.  I also take home a pound of extra playbills for fear that one will get creased on the ride home.  So it’s safe to say that I like to be ready for any situation, which is why I went into total panic mode on the first day of my English 10B class.  Switching from my Urban Outfitters bag to my backpack, I made sure that my notebooks, water bottle, gum, phone, keys, and wallet were in place.  It wasn’t until I was waiting at the bus stop that I had a nagging feeling I had forgotten the most important back-to-school supply of all--a pen.

I quickly swivel my backpack around and search for a pen in the front pocket, where I normally keep several.  Empty.  I ruffle through my notebooks in the main compartment, even look in my cosmetic bag, just in case I had stuffed one in there for safe keeping.  Nothing!  I slowly put my backpack on and look around.  I think of asking a friendly-looking face if I could borrow one for the day, but what were the odds of me ever finding them again to return it?  That was out of the question. 

As I board the G-line, my mind reels through various solutions to this very embarrassing predicament.  I can strategically sit next to a super cute guy, ask to borrow a pen, and voila! said writing utensil is received and a conversation ensues.  This is a win-win situation, at least for me.  However, I quickly strike this idea, as I don’t want to be deemed a total loser for being unprepared the first day of class.  If I was asked to loan a pen to a classmate, I would, of course, oblige, but would judge them for not being prepared and most likely give them a Seriously? face, followed by an eye roll after they turn away.  I know these kids all too well--the Pen-Forgetters.  They are from the same species as the Homework-Misplacers, Instruction-Interrupters, Attention-Hoarders, and the overall belligerent fools who would keep the class behind an extra ten minutes after the bell rang.  I have never been, and will never be, lumped into that category of these unprepared and directionless students.  I nix the idea of borrowing a pen from a classmate, cute or otherwise.

As the bus pulls up to the MU, I’m struck with sudden inspiration.  Checking my cell, I have thirteen minutes to get to Olson--time for a quick detour.  Hopping off the bus and with fixed determination, I maneuver my way through lost students and inexperienced bike riders to get to the bookstore, aka the Devine Pen Retailer.  I just need one, I think, just one to last me the next 50 minutes.  I skim the racks of pens, not wanting to spend five bucks on a new pack, since I already have a ton at home.  Then I spy it.  An unknown brand, medium point, black ink pen, for a mere 59 cents.  I walk triumphantly up to the electronics counter and complete my purchase, humorously telling the cashier that this might be the smallest purchase she’ll get all day. 

Feeling confident that now I will not have to succumb to peer ridicule, I make my way over to Olson 217, where I sit down and promptly spot an abandoned pen next to my feet.  I almost pick it up, but then reconsider.  I’ll leave it for the next person, notorious Homework-Misplacer or even Star Student, who also has an inkless morning.

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