Some days, the walk across campus is a game show obstacle course, and that day was no exception. The journey began when I hit the print button and an error message popped up.
Black ink low. Please replace and continue.
A quick look at the alarm clock on my desk set a countdown clock to twenty minutes in my head.
I opened three drawers before I found the box of cartridges. After I replaced the black, another error message popped up. To save time I replaced all of them, leaving the partially used ones on the desk to throw out later when I had time. I preemptively added paper to the tray.
My stapler was out of staples, the box of extras was empty, and I was paperclip-less. I used the double-folded corner and a bobby pin, hoping the professor would take it.
My book bag and shoes were in the right places so I was actually running ahead of schedule (it usually only took me ten minutes to make the walk from dorm room to class room). I set out ready to arrive about five minutes early.
I couldn’t see the entire path from my closed window, so I hadn’t seen the trucks on the walkway or heard the heavy equipment at work. When I turned the corner, saw vibrant orange signs and vests, heard the racket, and the mass of students being redirected around the unscheduled demolition, reconstruction, I really couldn’t see what exactly it was they were doing (there were pieces of sidewalk strewn across the grass and billowing clouds of steam issuing from grates I didn’t realize even existed).
Along with forty or fifty other students, I was pushed towards the entrance of a building that was not the one I had class in. The hallway was worse than a rush hour traffic jam. I had to get through the building before I could even get to the first floor of the building my class was in. It would have been easier wading through a pond of molasses, but I did eventually break through the double doors to spot the crowd entering the same building I was headed for.
The room I needed was at the far end of the second floor. One of the stairwells was out of order because they were repainting (at least that delay we had been notified of ahead of time; in fact, they’d been in the process of repainting it for almost a week). This meant I couldn’t cut out the traffic of the first floor; I had to go to the end of the hall first.
The professor was usually lenient about getting to class, but on paper days, he’d lock us out if we were late. I got in as he was standing at the door, counting down the seconds on his watch. I slid into my chair as the door shut and the lock slid into place.