First Day of Class


Isamu Noguchi, Slide Mantra

There was a plan.  Drive to the station, find a parking spot, take public transport, pick up copies of my syllabus , and go to the class I was teaching with time to spare.  But where would my syllabus copies be?  There were two choices, and thinking I was being efficient,  I checked my department mailbox, housed in the building I would pass on my way to class. It took me a minute to remember which floor I wanted, I exited the elevator with confidence. But I did not find my copies.  As I had not taught the previous term, I did not even find my mailbox.  No matter, I thought, I’ll go directly to the center.   Once there,  I picked up my copies cheerfully, and headed to class.  Once in the building, waiting for the elevator, I checked the room number on my syllabus.  Ah… Wrong building.  Chagrined, I headed back to my department building.  On reaching the requisite floor, I checked for the room, but found no such room.  What Kafka story had I stumbled into? I asked directions from two equally mystified young men, then decided to backtrack to my department, where I discovered I had written the wrong building on my syllabus.  How could that be?  Hadn’t I checked and rechecked?  Apparently not.   I hurried off to the original building, arriving ten minutes late, determined not to launch into an explanation, whereupon I promptly did.


The class went well, I think,  despite my bad jokes, talking far too much, and dithering on the computer.  By the time we discussed what mattered to us, writing fiction, I began to enjoy my students’ company.  I headed back to the subway, to begin my commute home.  Of course, neither of the two subway cards I fished out had any value on them, so I quickly bought another, rushed onto the tain that was just about leave, reading its destination quickly.  But to make sure, I asked a young woman if I was in the right direction.  Of course not.  Now here is the strange part of my day:  the station we pulled into was on my route.  Whereupon the young woman realized that it was she who was on the wrong train.  After she exited and the doors slid shut, the train paused. I wondered which direction the train would actually head, if an announcement would be made to change direction.  Instead, after the delay, the train roared ahead, depositing me, curiously,  exactly where I needed to be.

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