Monday, January 5, 2009

...school. It's six letters. I thought it was four.

...tonight I went to school for the first time in...oh, a very long time. Decades. Hell, longer than a lot of people have been alive, including my teacher. Luckily, I was thinking on back-brain because I picked the classes being held down at the...I have no idea what they're called if they're outdoor malls. Pam told me they were called lifestyle centers, and I'm pretty sure that's the industry term for them--but I don't hear anyone saying, "I'm headed down to the lifestyle center."

Mall? Outdoor mall? Isn't that a concept whose time has passed? Strip malls--even nicely landscaped, neon-bright places with benches and faux-pavers that aren't "inside" are necessarily "outside". Which makes them...uhm, a strip mall. Circa 1960.

Anyway, I figured it'd be easier to drive down the hill to the mall than take the highway to the main campus. It was great--not school. The mall. All bright and shiny in the dark, glittering like too-much money, all clean because after Christmas, it's a ghost town. Ann Taylor Loft (eighty percent off final clearance!) Coldwater Creek (up to seventy five percent off January sale!) See's Candy....

Wow, I just mean---wow.

I haven't gone shopping in a long time. I miss the hunt. Uber-expensive shirts and handbags for pennies on the dollar, nice shoes for eight bucks, fancy belts for cheap. I think I'm going to wait until the thrill wears off. I don't want to rush in and go crazy.

I found my class...

Luckily I didn't feel too out of place. There were at least six of us old people. All clustered up near the front because we all had the same idea. Get up close so it's easier to see. The back of the room was filled with kids. You could have drawn a line down the middle, it was so segregated. The want-to-be here's vs. the my-mom-made me go to school or I have to get out's. Some of these kids were career students. No job, just a life in the system.

I'm not a fan of dumb remarks. Store meetings are bad, but really--the same people who attend meetings and ask dumb questions have to start somewhere. Probably in my class.

I wanted to turn around, stand up and do the mom-thing. "I don't have a pen." It's school. When you're nineteen, you've been in the system for thirteen years. Don't tell me you don't have a pen. A friend once told me there's a difference between "smart" and commonsense. Hey, I believe it. Some of these people don't have the commonsense God gave an ant.

I learned how to round off whole numbers. Business math. I think I've got it covered.

8 comments:

aliceaudrey said...

I saw the same thing when I got my associates degree, though maybe not quite as stark a difference. I had gotten my bachelors in creative writing a few years before, so was in my mid 20's. When most of the rest on campus were fresh out of high school - and acted it - I stuck out a bit. More to the point, I was desperate for a degree I could make work for me, and they had no idea what they were heading into. They made it easy to bust the grade curve, and I did it with a vengeance.

jodi said...

You're smart, Alice. It's not just that you were older. You're smart, too. But hey--I'm hoping to hit the tippity top. If I don't, it's not for lack of trying.

Unhinged said...

Wow, I remember when I had no job and felt like a "prisoner" in the school system...it was such a drag and I couldn't wait to grow up so I could be "free".

If I could go back, I promise I'd stay awake for Mr. Robert's history class and try, really try, to pass the dang fundamentals of algebra.

Did you bring an apple for the teacher, or are you all about the pens?

Jeanna said...

Also easier to hear. I've had it going to classes with those little bastards, that's why I take online classes. That and it's cheaper to take a class than paying for the Fitness Center up front.
See, learning all the time.
You are brave and bring up a good point:
There IS such a thing as a stupid question.
I think Captain Kidd here has had it with apples, UH. I think I should send you a crate of Hot Tamales, Jodi.

Kaige said...

"learned to round off whole numbers"

Aiyeeeeee! This is why I hated my accounting class, not just that it was at 8 am.

And I hate to tell you, Jodi, common sense ain't. Sad, but true. I'm always amazed by what my kids think was a good idea at the time. *sigh*

But good for you going back to skul!

deanna said...

Yes, good job, and a post that made me laugh. I could see it so well. May you maintain commonsense and your sense of humor throughout.

Alice Audrey said...

I don't know about Jodi, Unhinged, but I'm all about the pens. :)

jodi said...

Me, too, Alice. I am such a pen-thief