It was a Tuesday. I don’t have to look at a calendar to remember that. The sun was out and an October breeze blew across the air. I was in my first year of university. I had an 8am class. I didn’t go to it.
Now, before you peg me as a prototypical university student who would rather sleep than go to class, well, you’re right. However, you’re also extremely wrong. Just because I felt like sleeping, doesn’t mean I ever chose it over class.
If there was one promise I made to myself before I started university, it was: always go to class. I refused to pay tuition just so I could sleep. It didn’t make sense to me. Sleeping should be free.
Back in first year when I had class at 8am, I set my alarm for 7am. I lived on campus. I could get up and be out the door within ten minutes or less if I really had to. But it was my first year. It was my first month. Everything was still new.
Exactly six years ago on October 20, 2009, I didn’t wake up when my alarm went off. In fact, I’m still not even sure it went off. I had so many problems with my alarm over the course of my four years away at school. It was unreliable.
Why didn’t you buy a new one?
Oh, quiet you.
I remember waking up and the first thing I noticed was how bright my room was. That couldn’t be right. How is it this sunny at 7am? Then I looked at the clock.
The clock read “9:14”. It didn’t quite hit me at first. All I knew was it was rare for me to look at the clock at this time.
The cobwebs cleared and I realized I had slept through my 8am class. My Sport Management class. As a Sport Management major, this was the only sports-related class I had all semester. Of all the ones to miss, huh?
I remember feeling so disappointed. My “always go to class” streak was broken after only one month.
Okay, it’s not the end of the world. I’ll just get notes from a friend. Fine.
Then I realized I had a Tourism & Environment seminar at 10am. I can still make it to that one, no problem.
I got in the shower and within two minutes, the unthinkable happened. The fire alarm in my residence building went off. I don’t know if any of you have ever been in the shower when a fire alarm goes off, but you feel completely helpless.
A part of you wants to stay just a couple more minutes to finish what you started, while another part of you is thinking, what if this is that one time there actually is a fire.
I was naked.
I was angry.
I rushed out of the shower, grabbed a towel, made a poor attempt at drying myself, and quickly threw on some clothes. Everything stuck to my wet body. I put on a hat and went outside.
It’s a miracle I didn’t forget my wallet. My student card was in my wallet. My student card also acted as my room key. On top of everything that had happened so far, imagine if I had gotten locked out?
Two years later, I would lock myself out of my room about twenty minutes before I had to go to an exam. I didn’t have shoes on. And I was wearing shorts that looked like boxers, but weren’t. I had to walk outside to another building to get a new card. That was a pre-exam ritual I had never expected.
So, here I am standing outside, all wet, because a fire alarm went off. I found out that it was a drill, but firetrucks were still coming to the scene. It was about 9:30 and the firetrucks weren’t there yet. I had class at 10. All of my stuff was in my room, including the assignment I had to hand in.
I knew that by the time the firemen showed up, did their thing, and left, it would be really close to 10am.
I’m sure this all sounds petty. And I can look back now and laugh relentlessly at all this, but at the time, I was worried about missing class. Especially a seminar, when there are only twenty of you in a room and they know who’s missing.
The firetrucks left just after 9:50.
A hoard of students rushed back into the building and slowly went up the stairs back to their rooms. By the time I left my room on the third floor, I had about 5 minutes to get to class halfway across campus.
I got there in time, probably looking like I had just been through a car wash…twice.
After that class, one of my friends in my 8am class asked me if I had notes from that morning’s lecture. Apparently, we had a pretty important guest speaker from a sports organization come in that morning and anything he said could show up on an exam.
Well, great. No, of course I didn’t have the notes. I slept through an alarm that probably didn’t go off! I was relying on this guy to provide me with the notes, and he slept through an alarm too.
At the time, I only knew a couple of people in my class. And fewer who I felt comfortable asking notes from. Remember, I’d only been there a month and it wasn’t like I had every class with the same people.
The other friend I asked also wasn’t there that day.
I don’t think any of us had missed a class up until that point, and all of a sudden we all miss class on the same day.
The mid-term exam showed up, and sure enough, there were two questions related to this guest speaker. Not knowing the correct answers, I made up my own. When I found out what the real answers were, I felt embarrassed by what I had written down.
That sunny Tuesday morning in October is one I will never forget. I hadn’t remembered the exact date until today, when Facebook reminded me of a post on my wall from that day. The post was my friend asking me for the notes.
By noon, I had already had a full day. I hated my alarm clock. I hated the shower. I hated the fire alarm. I hated the firetrucks. I hated fire drills. I hated water. I hated the weather. I hated everything.
For the next four years I would get in the shower knowing that a fire alarm could go off at any moment.
Little did I realize that the phone could also ring while I was in the shower, telling me a tour group was coming up to see my room that very moment. True story.
Some days are just another day on the calendar and are forgotten about. And then there are some days that live with us forever, for whatever reason.
October 20, 2009, is one of those days I will never forget.