There are many geniuses that walk among us in the Halls of Academia. And then there’s the other kind. . . About 10 years ago somebody decided they should have a clock in the lobby of the Student Union Building. So they brought in these workmen. And they installed the clock. Built it right into the wall of the lobby. Looked great.
But then, 6 months later, when it was Daylight Savings Time, and they had to turn the clocks back an hour, they realized — to their chagrin — that there was no mechanism to change the time.
So they brought the workmen back. And they tore the wall apart so they could get to the inner workings of the clock so that they could correct the time. So that was great.
Except 6 months later, when the clocks changed again, they had to bring the workmen back again to repeat the whole routine of tearing the wall apart.
After a couple of years of this they finally concluded: “Fuck this. This is too much trouble.” So they just left the clock the way it was.
But the good news was: For many years the clock in the lobby of the Student Union Building had the correct time for at least half the year.
Everybody who knows me knows I’m not a “morning person.” You wake up on the average with about 300 hangovers per year, you’re rarely in a state of good cheer in the morning.
Plus it’s pouring rain. And I only got about 4 hours of sleep last night in a cold, hard doorway. And one of my best friends was hauled off to the hospital yesterday on the verge of death. So I’m ready to kill the next person who looks at me funny (what can I say I’m a little edgy).
Fortunately its 8am and the basement cafeteria in the Student Union Building is completely empty (students are all gone for winter break).
So I take my coffee to the farthest corner of the cafeteria where I can get some much needed peace and solitude and ease my shattered soul into the day.
For whatever reason, in this completely deserted basement, this young maintenance guy picks this exact moment in time and space to come over to my little corner of the Universe and start REARRANGING ALL THE CHAIRS AND TABLES!!! For no apparent reason. They look perfectly fine the way they are.
And as he drags each chair and table across the tile floor THEY MAKE THIS LOUD SCREECHING NOISE!! I mean it’s like a fingernails-on-blackboard kind of sound. Only much louder.
And so I’m glaring at him (if looks could kill I’d be doing 20 to life right now). Is he doing this on purpose to fuck with me? Or is the Universe conspiring against me for some karmic crime I committed in a previous lifetime?? (Actually, in retrospect, when I sobered up I realized he was just doing his job and I was being an asshole. So shoot me.)
Whatever. I quickly pack up all my stuff glaring in his direction while muttering Italian cursed under my breath and rush off to the other end of the cafeteria in search of a quiet solitary spot where I’m unlikely to commit any felonies.
I’m sitting here in the mostly-deserted basement cafeteria on the campus (most of the students are gone for winter break). Drinking my morning coffee and trying to regain some semblance of normality in what passes for my brain.
When this young Asian co-ed sitting across from me asks: “Excuse me, could you watch my stuff while I’m gone?”
“Um. Gone for how long?” I ask.
“About 10 minutes,” she said.
“OK,” I said.
She gets up and leaves. Leaves her laptop, her purse and her jacket at her table.
Some people are very trusting, I guess.
I mean, I sure as hell wouldn’t trust somebody like me.
It’s like I’ve been caught in some weird time-warp. Trapped in a tape-loop. Frozen in a twilight zone.
I’ll think of all the different people I used to hang out with on the steps. I’ll flashback to all the faces of all the people that were on the scene over the years. All gone. And yet, for some weird and inexplicable reason, I’m still here.
Let’s just say that that feeling doesn’t fill me with great confidence about the life I’ve led.