October 20, 2009

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.

About Paul

I think of my blog as an all-you-can-read buffet. There's something for everyone and complimentary mints at the door as you leave.
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20 Responses to October 20, 2009

  1. Jessie Reyna says:

    You know what’s weird? I have a recurring dream that is basically this. I show up to one of my first classes of the semester, and then all of a sudden, the semester goes by and I realize I never showed up to that class again. I then have an exam of material that I never learned because I forgot about the class. I started having that dream I think my Junior year and I figured once I graduated, I wouldn’t have it anymore. Nopeeeee. I still have it occasionally and each time, I wake up in a panic attack.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Angela~ says:

    Man, I guess this happens everywhere. My dorm was known as the worst dorm on campus bc we had the fire alarm pulled, as a prank, almost every week. I will never forget the one time it happened at 3AM, in 30 degree weather. I was stuck outside, blind (no glasses) and in shorts, while a campus cop took it upon himself to yell at us for 20 minutes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. markbialczak says:

    When I overslept my first two years living in the dorm, Paul, if I overslept breakfast before our 8 a.m. classes, my friends would stand below my second-floor window and toss pebbles at it to wake me up. I was glad they never threw one through the window!

    My worst sleep-in story there, though, came in the middle of the night after I’d had a couple beers. (You’ll see how smart you are to be alcohol-free, my friend.) My roommate had his girlfriend over while I slept dead to the world. She suddenly fainted or something, and my roommate called the RA, who called the dorm director, who called campus security. I guess a half-dozen people were in our room attending to his girlfriend, and I never even stirred. The next day I walked past the dorm director, who called me Sleepy, and told me that he stuck his hand in front of my mouth to make sure I was breathing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Wow! Now that’s a story!
      Outside my window, three floors down, were the garbage bins. Once a week those darn garbage trucks just had to show up early in the morning and do their job, while waking me up prematurely each and every time. I wish someone threw pebbles instead.


  4. Barb Knowles says:

    Great story. It’s crazy how a string of unrelated events can combine to cause a personal disaster. And, looking back, it wasn’t actually a complete disaster. But I’m sure it felt like it at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. anxietybug88 says:

    So, first off, sorry for my terrible losing streak when it comes to commenting on your blog. I’d say that I was figuring out the mysteries of the universe, but in actuality, I just kept forgetting to check your blog. We all make mistakes.

    I remember the day I missed my British Romantics class because I got snowed in when I had visited home that weekend. It was the one day I had been waiting for, the day we talked about William Blake, my favorite poet and dragon-painter. Needless to say, I was upset.

    Ah, college memories. Some of them really stick with you, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. moonbabydoll says:

    (^0^) “true story” ahh you reminded me of my first year in college lmao!! Now I will for ever remember your story when ever I hear a fire alarm :]

    Liked by 2 people

  7. KJ says:

    At least you had a fire drill. Where I go to school, our fire alarms don’t even work and most exits stay locked. If something were to happen, we’d be turned into a bunch of medium-rare college students.

    Liked by 1 person

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