On Monday night, running through the streets of DC, headed for a building I’d never seen before, I had a moment of serenity.
I was late for my first day of class. I had been planning for this day for months; I left work early, had all my books and notes together, and was thoroughly prepared to be a kickass student once again. The cruel fates who control the DC Metro had made other plans. The train I was on lurched and heaved awkwardly, often unable (or perhaps unwilling) to open and close its door. I was constantly checking my phone, watching my elaborate plan fall to pieces as large chunks of time were wasted at each stop. Just short of my destination, the train sighed and moved no more. They off-loaded all of the passengers and announced that “due to a mechanical failure, you’re all going to be late. Our bad.”
I, a paragon of punctuality, panicked. I considered my options. A cab would be costly, but I’d only be a few minutes late. I could wait for another train, but my hopes were dim. I did, in the end, what I often do: I ran. I booked it for the broken escalator (which seemed all too appropriate at the time), dodging packs of pissed off commuters. I came out of the Metro right onto the DC Mall; the ghostly image of the Capitol stood out in the foggy night air. I ran across the grass and mud, hoping to hail the first taxi I came across. I had no cash, but figured I’d sort it out later.
I couldn’t find a single cab. It was rush hour, but not a glimpse of yellow could be seen! I decided to just keep walking in the general direction of class, eventually reaching the next Metro station. I abandoned my cab idea, decided to get back on the train and continue on as originally planned. I made it to the building around 6:20 for a 6:00 class. I entered the classroom, apologetic and sweaty. Fortunately, the teacher of this class is awesome, and he was forgiving. My only punishment was to tell the class a story.
As I unpacked my things and regained my composure in the little classroom, I suddenly felt at peace. I realized that I was out of breath, leg aching, bounding up the giant escalators of the Dupont Circle station, because I legitimately cared about being late. I’m often blasé about getting to work on time, mainly because it’s not amazingly rewarding. But here I was, stressed and pushing myself to my limits to not be a few minutes late for a class. I didn’t appreciate the feeling of dedicated learning time during my undergraduate years. I was too concerned with 10,000 other things. Now, in a world where those 10,000 other things are 1,000,000 things, often not chosen by me, it is incredibly calming to have 5 hours a week where I can do nothing but learn.
Both of my classes seem excellent. The teachers are exuberant and friendly, my classmates eager to share their experiences. I didn’t think I could be more excited than I was when I was accepted to this program months ago. But here I sit, on the proverbial edge of my seat, practically drooling to see what’s next.
Hidden moral of this story? Never, ever, trust the DC Metro to get you anywhere on time. Doubly so if you have somewhere important to be.