I have always had a terrible sense of direction.
Not like oops I turned right, let me loop around the block and go left more like, oops there’s the Welcome to Ohio sign, now how did that get north of Michigan?
So college was a challenge.
Being thrust out into a world of big buildings and lots of people, none of whom were waving a “turn this way Jessica” sign was enough to leave me drawing circles with my highlighter in a corner.
Every new semester I would ultimately locate my classes and upon leaving have no clue how to find my way out of the building or to the place my car was parked. So I adopted a “follow the masses” policy. I decided that if everyone was turning right I would turn right too because they were bound to be leading the way towards an exit. Genius, I know. And yes, if everyone jumped off a bridge I probably would have done so too, assuming my car was parked down there somewhere.
Which leads me to the moment burned into my memory as the worst first day of school ever.
My first day of Winter semester at college* was a crazy, snowy, freezing, Michigan winter day and I was doing my usual “follow the masses” technique to find my way out of a brand new and confusing-to-the-directionally-challenged parking structure. I was looking down to avoid the wind whipping at my face and must have stepped a few feet off the path of “the masses.”
Suddenly I was struck over the head with something and all I could see out of the corner of my eye was something yellow and maybe with a reflector of some sort. I looked straight ahead to see that I was, in fact, facing a stream of cars heading into the parking structure and I was also, in fact, being beaten over the head with the parking arm that goes up and down to let people in to park.
No one really knew what to do with me. I could see it in their faces. Do they get out and help the girl who somehow got into college with such minimal skills that she would walk UNDER a parking arm as it was coming down? Do they let her be? And then “oh no, the girl’s coat is stuck ON the parking arm and there she goes up in the air with the arm.”
I’m not sure how far off the ground I was lifted or if my stupidity just left me feeling as if I was levitating but hitting the ground was not pleasant. And also my cute jeans were now dirty.
I got up, righted myself and, dizzied by my parking structure beating, followed the masses down the snowy sidewalk, hoping they would lead me to my first class of the semester that would not contain a single person who had been waiting in line to get into that parking structure.
*Just a little note to my alma mater if you are reading… please do not revoke my degree. I swear my book smarts far outweigh my street smarts.
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