Thursday, February 13, 2014

Who Me? Stressed?

Who Me?  Stressed?

College. I was 18 and right out of high school. I'd turned down a scholarship in art and turned down Valedictorian. No sense making a fool of myself.  I just wanted to escape high school with my As and be done with it. At that time, a career in computers was the “thing”, although the internet and graphics and gaming were not hot on the market yet.

Being the novice that I was, I assumed college was the same as high school and signed up for seven or eight classes, one of them being BASIC computer programming. Yeah, I thought that was a typo.  BASIC…all caps…and these were college professionals. As you guessed it, BASIC turned out to be a programming language, and I was totally lost.

To top it off, there was a student in an electric wheelchair in several of my classes. With frazzled nerves, I would wait for each class to start. Then I would hear the buzzing of his wheelchair as he ever so slowly came down the hall. The sound was much like the annoying zzzzzzz of a fly. Every day the poor guy was late to class. Billy would finally get parked behind me and the professor would continue. But could I concentrate? No. All I could hear was the agitating sound of his oxygen concentrator. I would grind my teeth, rub the back of my neck, try to slow my rapid breathing, think of something else…

I knew it wasn’t Billy’s fault. I knew I was being totally unfair, self-centered, a jerk!  But, all I could hear was that machine—suck, suck, pshhh, suck, suck, pshhh.  Maybe it was because everything that I had learned in high school, the professor surpassed in the first week. Maybe it was my fear of failing.  Maybe the reason I wanted to take both Billy’s wheelchair and his oxygen concentrator and throw them over the balcony railing was because they represented machines and that computer down in the computer lab was a machine that was my enemy. Yeah, I was a little stressed.  

One day the professor had just started off the class by asking me a question.  Me!  And there it was.  That electric motor, buzzing slowly down the hall, growing louder and louder and Billy’s oxygen machine going, “suck, suck, pshhh, suck, suck, pshhh.” My lips moved rapidly but nothing sensible came out. I had reached a mounting frustration that caused my brain to go vacant.  I looked for a route of escape, but here came Billy through the door, temporarily blocking my path.

And then it happened.  I started to laugh, uncontrollable laughter.  I flopped in my chair, covering my mouth, trying desperately to stop laughing but couldn’t.  The shocked look on the professor’s face is ever engrained in my memories.  The students sitting next to me slid their chairs away.  Poor Billy had no idea what was going on and just smiled at me. I finally had to excuse myself in order to regain my composure.

Yes, it was probably some sort of mental breakdown. But from then on, I didn’t take college as seriously as I had.  Billy’s wheelchair no longer bothered me and his concentrator didn’t echo in my head any longer.  Learning to not take myself so seriously is hard for me.  I still struggle with it.  I see other bloggers with witty posts and wish I could open up, let my guard down, shoot from the hip…but, I guess there will always be a bit off that uptight college girl inside me.  I just have to throw her over the balcony once in awhile.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense…and Dogs!
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