I left the house on time. Traffic moved so smoothly that I got to work a full twenty minutes before my students' 8 a.m. final exam was to begin. After parking in the deck, I got out and opened the back door of my car to get my backpack. My heart flew into my throat when I saw that I left it at home. My backpack functions as my purse, so I just drove all the way to work with no driver's license, no cell phone, no office keys, and no book to read.
|I was a sad monkey.|
"It's okay," I said aloud, which drew the attention of two passers-by. "The exams are in your office and someone, someone, will be around to let you in." Cursing to myself, I stuffed my car keys in my pocket and walked to the building.
By the time I made it inside and up to the third floor, it was fifteen til, and almost all my students were lining the hallway waiting to be let in the room.
"It's Monday," I said. "I left my backpack at home."
They laugh and then one girl hopefully asked, "Did you leave the tests at home too?"
"No, no," I assured her. "They are in my office, and as soon as I borrow a key , I'll have your tests."
I can always depend on Dr. W, the department chair, to be in at 7:30 a.m. Today was no exception. I knocked on the glass window of the office, and when he opened the door for me, I explained my situation. He unlocked my classroom for me and let me borrow his master key to get into my office to get the tests. Once everyone was in the room and settled, I experienced a slight adrenaline crash but remind myself that everything would be okay since I got the tests. We started on time.
Every classroom in the math building has, among other techno-gizmos, a pc. Thus, I consoled myself with the fact that, after I made the grading guide for the final, I could tool around online. I checked my email, messaged a student who hadn't shown, and tweeted about my backpack. Then, around 9 a.m., the tapping and door slamming began.
For the life of me, I cannot understand why the University always schedules maintenance for finals week. I mean, WTF? Wait one more week. Then no one, save the office staff a few professors whose lives revolve around being at the office, will be around. But no. Last spring, they chose finals week to install the gazillion dollar sympodium (a podium wired for and equipped with a pc, document camera, tegrity touch monitor, DVD and CD players, and a VCR), Bose speakers, and projector in "my" classroom. At the beginning of this semester, they tore up the main road into campus and repaved it the night before classes began. Hence, it is only fitting that they should choose finals week to tear out all the asbestos from the room directly through the wall from mine.
|I was an enraged monkey.|
The tapping was monotonous, and so the students could ignore it. However, the slamming doors and sounds of the ceiling collapsing couldn't be ignored. Suddenly, there were thirty-two sets of worried eyes looking at me. I scowled.
"I'll go see what I can do," I said, heading for the door. "If you hear cursing, well, pretend it's not me."
I walked around the corner to find the doors to the room sealed with black plastic and covered with warning signs for the "asbestos retrieval." (That cracks me up...like they are rescue workers going in to save the asbestos.) Frowning, I returned to the office to ask the head office assistant (and incognito miracle worker) if anything could be done.
After five minutes of silence, we heard a loud bang. One of my older students looked up at me and said, "Okay, now, that's just wrong."
I sighed. "If it won't disturb you all too much, I'm going to see if we can move."
After another five minutes of getting keys and checking rooms, they all packed up, and I moved them to a second floor classroom far away from the "retrievers." At this point, it was impossible to make sure no one talked about the test and that students with the same version of the tests weren't seated next to each other. Uncle, I thought. I apologized to them, asked them to sit in every other desk, and gave them an extra thirty minutes.
When I returned the borrowed keys to the office goddess, she informed me that the banging stopped about fifteen minutes after I moved my class. Jaw set, I made copies of the grading guide for the other teachers and left. Since I made it home without wrecking, I consider the day an over-all success.