She missed the bus. Building up a ‘psychological head-of-steam’, she envisioned her ‘grand entrance’ into Professor C’s Chemistry class. His rants were the stuff of urban legend. To make matters worse, the lecture hall was an intimidating venue, with tiered seating that funneled student attention toward the prof’s desk and blackboard down in the ‘bowl’.
Racing from the bus stop, past blocks of abandoned storefronts, she imagined whispers descending, from the unending row of faded, shredded awnings that hung in tatters above her:
“Troubled waters ahead!”
Her male classmates would enjoy the distraction, but she didn’t relish being their comic relief. Huffing and puffing, she reached the massive, counterweight sliding door of the lecture hall. After pausing to breathe, she pushed the door open. Silence engulfed the lecture hall. All eyes were upon her, as she clattered up the stairs and across the back of the lecture hall, to her centrally located, assigned desk.With the vigor of a ravenous beast, pouncing on pathetic prey, his voice roared across the expanse of classroom that separated them:
“Nice of you to join us!” He pretended to scan the seating chart to find her name and make a notation.
For a moment she thought: “Will this go on my permanent record?” (Twelve years of parochial school education had conditioned her well). She mumbled something about a bus, and opened her notebook, hoping that in so doing, she might disappear.
Of course she didn’t (disappear); but, instead, had a revelation: It wasn’t about her! He could (and did) artfully manipulate her to perpetuate his persona as a ‘hard-ass’. Today, she was merely his weapon of choice. Nothing more; nothing less.
She survived that seemingly endless semester with a firmly established (if insignificant) 2.00. This journey would be life-changing; but if she could tackle each hurdle, one at a time, and seize precious pearls of wisdom along the way, there was hope for this aspiring Chemical Engineer.