It was January 9th, a bright morning. Well, it would be bright. In about two hours, if the sun ever decided to do me the courtesy of rising at a reasonable time. (It didn't.)
In the darkness, I walked with my bag slung across my body to the event that I was regrettably required to attend. My jacket, despite being a delightfully neon turquoise that promised to attract birds and small forest animals come the sunrise, did only an okay job of warding off the cold. Poor planning on my part, I suppose, but I didn't really mind, given that I was more concerned with not getting run over by a car. I'd review that concern around finals week.
After a few run-ins with a random armadillo, which all involved me squinting suspiciously at various bushes, I arrived at a sidewalk. It was uphill. I adjusted my bag, patted it to make sure my apples hadn't shifted (there's no strange and unexpected euphemism here, I literally had apples in my bag), and trekked upwards.
An hour after setting out, I made it to the student center at precisely ten minutes before I was required. I signed in to the auditorium and picked up a badge that I then affixed to my jacket. I located a seat near the exit in the hopes that I would be able to escape the confines of the building at the earliest available time. A speaker got on stage.
I spent the next few hours in a comfortable haze of boredom. The room became almost uncomfortably warm from the heat of people seated closely together. I counted the ceiling tiles. Then I multiplied them. Then I squared them. Just as I was attempting to find the prime multiples of the tiles' square, I was interrupted from my arguably dreadful musings by a loud voice emanating from the speaker system.
"If everyone would just go and perform one of the tasks on the sheet you've gotten, that'd be ah-maze-ing. Also, be back by 10:30 or you won't be able to register because we'll mark your name off this list. 'Kay, have fun, y'all!"
Note to self: if you want to stop tardiness and absences: just threaten people! I thought. Being forced into participation really brings out the best in me. I wasn't the least bit interested in "uncovering the rich history of the university" or "experiencing the diversity of disciplines available through faculty and staff". So I didn't. Instead, I wandered around the buildings for the allotted time, probably (read: definitely) into locations that I wasn't supposed to be yet.
The rest of the day followed the same sort of pattern. Hours of lectures, sandwiched between a brief period of respite where I wandered campus, charged my phone, and/or ate apples in the women's bathroom. The bathroom thing was a bit strange. The more apples I managed to conjure up from my bag, the more the other women in the bathroom stared at me like I was crazy. They may have had a point, but I got to eat, so who's the real winner here?
Finally, at 5 pm, the lectures were done and I had only one more objective: get the physical copy of my ID, and leave. I was excited. By this time, I had no more apples, so my bag was light, which meant that I could probably get home in half the time! Yeah, I was that ready to get out of there. Somehow, I was the only person besides staff in the ID room when it came time for me to retrieve it.
Being the only person, the staff were all super excited to see me. As I was almost giddy from the elation brought by my proximity to freedom, I went through the queue grinning like a fool, and happily chatted with each person as I walked by.
The last person I had to talk with before getting my ID was a bearded man in a maroon shirt. He began to tell me about all of the functions that my ID card had as a student and handed it over for me to study as he talked. As I looked at it, he subtly mentioned "-and you can also use it for transactions at Wells Fargo."
Not looking up from the card, I asked the first question that occurred to me:
"Wasn't Wells Fargo the bank that had a huge scandal a while back?"
He went silent, and I looked up. As I did, my gaze landed on the bold lettering written across his shirt which read... Wells Fargo.
I panicked internally for half of a heartbeat (WHO BRINGS UP A SCANDAL IN SOMEONE'S JOB?? YOU DID), but somehow managed to do damage control. I don't know what I said. I don't know how I said it. But I made the guy laugh, and the previously tense and somewhat awkward silence was broken. It took all I had in me to casually walk out of the building, though all was now well. I'd be lying if I said I didn't get in a lot of cardio on my way home.
Exercise: a real life alternative to "running away from your problems".