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Let me paint a picture for you. It’s Thursday afternoon. You’re sitting in a relatively meaningless, sufficiently boring general studies class, your third class of the day, and time seems to be at a standstill. It’s been a long day. You took an exam during your first class that you had to cram for the night before, and all that morning. It was an important exam, and you fucking nailed it, but your mind is now shot. With that out of the way, your next two classes of the day were attended in “coast” mode. You were there physically, but you were mentally checked out. You don’t have class tomorrow, and you received a text five minutes before class started from a brother that said he and a group were getting the weekend started early by way of front porch beers and front lawn bocce ball at the house. You love the text, but you also kind of hate it because of its timing — a tease. Your class, which is university mandated, has a strict attendance policy that states you’re only allowed two absences this semester before dropping a full letter grade, and you pissed one of them away prematurely while turning what should have been a three-day roadie to an away football game into a four-dayer. It was worth it, but now it’s time to pay the piper.
Class has been long and devastatingly taxing, like watching someone paint a never-ending wall with white paint in a cold, bright, windowless room. It’ll be over in 30 minutes, the longest 30 minutes of your life, but they might as well be hours, or days, because time is not moving. You start to wonder if you’re ever getting out of there. Glancing at the clock every 30 seconds only pushes you further toward insanity.
Then you switch up your strategy and do that thing where you try to wait five minutes before looking back at the clock. You convince yourself that you’re awesome at predicting how much time has passed by, so you try and hit the five-minute mark right on the dot with your next clock peek. It’s really hard to do, though. That clock has some kind of magical eyeball magnetism properties to it, almost trance-like. You tell your eyes to stare at the whiteboard, or projector screen, but it’s tough to do. You catch yourself moving your line of vision toward the clock, but you manage to pull a Maverick and fly right by it. Game still on.
You then gaze at the hottie sitting a couple rows in front of you to keep your eyes affixed and occupied, but she doesn’t look that great today. Her usual sex appeal is hidden under a long sleeve tee and a ponytail. All you want to do is look at the clock. You call an audible. After what you have perceived to be three and a half minutes gone by, you change the game to a four-minute guessing game. Four minutes is long enough, right? It’s coming up. Five-four-three-two-one, clock! Four minutes?! Close, only 58 seconds has gone by. FUCK! The room seems to be getting smaller. Your anxiety amps up. You can’t take it. You’re thankful no weapons are nearby as ending your misery sounds like a viable option.
Then, it happens. A hero emerges. Class ends in 12 minutes, but a brave, trailblazing classmate calls an audible of his own. He thinks class should end now, and who are you to stop him?
A soft rustle is heard from about five rows behind you. It’s a sound anyone over the age of five in a civilized nation can instantly recognize. It’s the sound of a backpack being jostled. You think to yourself, “Is this gonna work? Is Professor Dickbag aware of the actual time?” The soft rustle is accompanied by the very familiar thump of a book closing. Then, the ziiiiiiiip of a zipper sounds out. “Please, keep going,” you mutter under your breath. Then, another zipper is heard. Two more books are closed. More jostling. “Don’t stop. And Teach, don’t look at the fucking clock. Please.” Thump, thump, thump, thump. “It’s working.” The mass uprising is getting loud, but no one has stood up yet to make the plunge. You all stare around the room at each other in a “Should we do this?” manner. Yes, you should. The stares continue. “Let’s all get up at the same time,” you all agree in a unified, extrasensory bond among classmates. All you brought to class was a pen and two sheets of paper, so you know that you can make a move for it quietly and efficiently. “I’m basically in stealth mode right now,” you think while planning your escape.
It’s go time. You all stand up at the exact same moment, all 300 of you in a synchronized sea of freedom and bliss that appears to be the product of months of dedicated choreography training. The execution is flawless and beautiful — a sight to behold. You’re home free. When the professor finally realizes that class is still 10 minutes from it’s scheduled end, his efforts to corral the herd are much too futile. “Excuse me!” he shouts. You’ve all gone temporarily deaf, though. Catch you next week, Teach. This party’s over.
It’s only 10 minutes of your life, and in the grand scheme of things, those minutes don’t mean a whole helluva lot. It’s the small victories, though. The small victories help you navigate through this crazy thing called college, and life. You won this one. You all did. All thanks to that one asshole, that one amazing asshole that stood above the rest and began packing his shit up early.
You see that asshole at the bars that night, and you buy that asshole a beer. You let him know his asshole efforts are appreciated. You put that beer in his hand, you thank him, and you let him know, “I got the next one, asshole.” Now, I’m not proposing some kind of nationwide “All assholes unite and start packing your shit up early” campaign, but the standard “Pay it forward” philosophy application could really make some moves happen. When the time is right, and you’ll know when it is, pay it forward. Pack your shit up.
Here’s to you, you early packing asshole.