A Little Walk

You know, I’ve only had class for two days, and yet I am so very thankful that Friday has come.

The day started off with a visit to Walmart, where I found a decent little electric kettle for $13.  Now I can make my tea in the comfort of my own office, with minimal inconvenience.  And that tea was so darn good, too.

Take that, Growling Coffee Lady.

I made a huge mistake on Syllabus Day, meaning that if nothing else, I had to correct it quickly, lest students assume that I’m an idiot and don’t know of what I speak.  To wit:  I had the dubious honor of informing them that they had to buy yet another book.  Of course, I took the blame for the error, but it was indeed a mistake: I’ve always used three small plays for a ‘compare and contrast’ exercise.  I’d been mulling over just using two of these plays, and that’s what I’d included in the syllabus.  Unfortunately, that’s not what I told the bookstore, which purchased copies of the third play in anticipation that I’d use them.  Worse, many students had purchased the third play already, so there was no way that I could say, “Hey, don’t buy the third book.”  Nope – by that point, it was in my best interests to bite the proverbial bullet and inform the class of this added expense.  Granted, we’re only talking about a whopping two dollars, but it’s the idea of yet another purchase.  Everyone seemed cool with it, especially after I apologized, so I don’t anticipate some mass complaint.  Not yet, anyway.

All day long, I had a craving for butter toffee peanuts.  I don’t know why, because consuming too many peanuts will make me nauseous.  I don’t get that, either, but that’s what happens – except when I eat butter toffee peanuts.  Then, I could eat them to my heart’s content.  I’d made a mental note to stop by an organic foods grocery on the way home; they sell some pretty good butter toffee peanuts (by the pound).

Now my day had meaning.  Take that, too, Growling Coffee Lady.

My second mistake of the semester was in walking paperwork to the other side of campus.  If you recall, I mentioned that my campus is rather lengthy, and one could probably walk a full mile, if doing a round trip trek.  Well, earlier this year, I was overpaid for a presentation I’d given; the mistake was understandable – in fact, I anticipated that it would happen.  It’s also a bit complicated to explain, so I’ll leave it at that:  I was overpaid, and whenever one is overpaid, there’s always someone who wants that overpayment back.  That was the predicament I’d found myself some months ago, but me being me, I’d neglected to address this obligation.

For the record, we’re talking about $87.

So . . . I opted to walk the money over to the office in question.  I’d promised to repay the money in July, but their offices were closed when I visited.  A subsequent visit in early August found the doors locked again, as did a third visit two weeks ago.  I could have just mailed them a check, as was suggested, but I reasoned that I’d be there; I could easily handle it in person.  Truth was, I didn’t want to spring for a fifty-cent stamp; don’t ask me why.  After the end of July, it became a matter of principle for me to avoid buying a stamp, and now that I’m writing this out, I’m starting to wonder if I should really reevaluate my criteria on things on which I’m willing to make a stand.  I’m thinking that postage fees really shouldn’t be on that list.

Anyway, the office in question is not a part of the central campus; it’s a good distance away – I’m guessing about a half-mile.  I had just enough time between classes to take a shuttle over there, pay my debt, and return; having failed so many times to get someone to take my money, I figured this was my last real chance to resolve the issue.  I hopped on the campus shuttle, and three minutes later – if that long – I was walking into the office building where my obligation rested . . .

. . . Only to find the door locked.  “We’re open Monday to Thursday, from 9 am to 2 pm.”

For an office that so desperately wants me to return eighty bucks, they’re not planning to make any of it easy for me.

I was not going to waste this opportunity, so after securing an interoffice envelope from another – open – office, I tucked my check inside, and thrust the whole thing under the door.  If all goes well, I’ll get an acknowledgement on Monday, thanking me for my “due diligence in this matter.”  Whatever.

Here’s where I made the mistake:  Rather than waiting for the shuttle to return, I decided that I’d walk back to the central campus (and my office).  I should mention here that I’ve not walked much at all since May, and while the trek was minor and something I should have been able to do, I should also mention that it looked easier than it was, especially since I was wearing black leather Oxford shoes – the worst shoe to wear on anything other than linoleum.  It’s like that male version of women’s pumps; they look nice, they’re professional, but they’re woefully impractical outside of the office.

There is one thing about teachers that most people don’t know: We’re in a lot of physical pain during the first two weeks of class.  I like to think that I come from durable stock; I had a lengthy paper route as a kid, which I walked daily, regardless of weather conditions.  If no other part of my body was well-developed by the time I finished high school, I could say that my thighs and calves were.  And thanks to a father who believed that cars should be used only by those who paid for them, I walked just about everywhere I went in my hometown; that was no mean feet. (Ha! See what I did there?)

The guy who grew to hate walking brilliantly solved this problem by joining the Army, an organization that really isn’t known for its use of motor vehicles.  In the years since, I’ve developed a new appreciation for walking, but I prefer to do so at my own, leisurely pace.  If I don’t have to be at a given location “now,” then I’m going to take my time.  The trade-off is that my knees aren’t in the best of shape.  No, Uncle Sam saw to that, and subsequent years of bad medical attention (when there was any at all), means that I can still enjoy a stroll or two, but there will often be a price to pay.

I survived the walk back to my office – the shuttle looped by twice, so I won’t claim any speed records.  It took a while for me to cool off, but once that happened, I went on with my day – taught another class, met with students about class concerns, attended a departmental meeting, and finally, called it a day.  The trip home was uneventful, although I remembered my plans for butter toffee peanuts.  Unfortunately, that bit of knowledge hit me after I’d parked the car and begun opening my front door.  Damn.

Saturday morning taught me the foolishness of my folly.  Every muscle, every joint – every fiber of my being – screamed out in pain.  I knew that it was because I decided to forego the shuttle for the return trip, and believe me, I’ll never do that again.  I felt the way Sylvester Stallone looked at the end of the original Rocky.  Actually, I felt like he looked in all of the Rocky films (except for Rocky V, because that film sucked, and I doubt that I’ve ever felt that bad).  All I know is that if I’m ever overpaid like that again, I’m just keeping the money.

Or maybe I’ll take two quarters and buy a frickin’ stamp.

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