My Second First Day of School: Part II

After falling off the edge of the metaphorical cliff, I landed outside Room 320 of the Willard Building that first morning. As I pulled open the door I muttered to myself, “Ach yuck, one thing is for sure, no Amish girls cleaned this place any time recently.” At least these surfaces weren’t quite as skuzzy as the restrooms surfaces, it was there that I made the first mental note to “Buy sanitary wipes ASAP!!” Now I seconded it.

Obviously, I had not expected that such a large worldly institution would adhere to the cleanliness-is-next-to-godliness standard so common among the Amish but the Restroom Episode made me long to hear my mother yelling, “doitrightforgoodnesssakes.” I had thought I was gonna be late for class because I nearly got stuck in the place. Although sticky, skuzzy surfaces were not entirely at fault.

On the day my husband and I did a practice run before the semester started, we had of course found the restroom closest to the classroom but I had not been wearing a backpack that time and my husband had gotten me to the proper door, looked in and said, “Stalls on the right, sinks on the left, paper towels straight ahead.”

That first morning, I was on my own. I managed to find the correct door, elbowed it open and listened. Okay, I was early and I was alone. I proceeded to the right, stabbed with my cane until I found a stall, then wedged my plus-size body into the tiny space. When I attempted to shut the door and turn around, my bulky backpack got itself stuck between the protruding commercial bathroom-tissue gizmo on the one side and what I was sure was the skuzzy door on the other. Now what?

I thought I was alone in the room but that didn’t mean I was going to risk mooning anyone who might chance to walk in during mid-process. Neither did I want to squat where I was and let it gush. My backpack included everything except a change of clothes. “Okay, figure it out, there’s no way you can wait until you get home,” I thought to myself.

I finally propped my cane in a corner, located the end of the roll of bathroom tissue, wrapped my hand in generous layers, and explored my options. I could straddle the open toilet enough to get the door shut which allowed me enough space so I could eventually get my backpack and accompanying backside into what felt like the right position. Ah, the relief of a mission accomplished.

But goodness gracious, was I gonna need to go through this same disgusting process before and after every class? I ought to invest in a serious stash of sanitary wipes. And was there some sort of Public Restroom Conspiracy that dictated each individual one be different from all the others? Why couldn’t they always use the same layouts, the same fixtures, the same soap dispensers, and the same paper towel holders so I could avoid the frustration of a poorly done cleaning job?

Back at the classroom, as I worked my way around the room after the Restroom Episode, I realized that the saw dust and butterflies had disappeared. Before I settled into a seat, I got out my water bottle, my notebook, and the textbook that had been assigned to English 015, and sat on the edge of my seat with the same degree of eagerness I’d felt on my first, first-day-of-school. Maybe I could do this.

In pairs and singles, my classmates entered the room bringing the silent awkwardness of strangers. When the seats were perhaps half-filled, a young woman wearing a tan skirt with a short-sleeved blue and green top breezed into the room with blond hair swinging and bits of more blue, green, and gold, sparkling at her ears. She plopped her cloth bag on the table beside the podium in front of the dark colored wall I assumed was the chalkboard and looked around the room.

“Great, I love the U-shaped seating arrangement; we’ll keep the desks that way. And oh, by the way, I’m the instructor for English 015 and my name is Michelle.”

Her colorful appearance and breezy, cheery manner chased away the last of the frustration of the Restroom Episode, things were looking up. Surely I could do this.


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