So today is my first day of class as a non-degree student in English at GMU.
I leave work early as I have some logistics to do. I get my enrolment info and take it to the cashier to get a financial statement, and then take that to the Parking Services to get a parking pass. A real hassle but the staff are really friendly, understanding, patient and helpful.
It has all been pretty rushed since because I applied late, I was only just able to enroll yesterday.
So everything is finally done and I go and park the car in its now permitted and honored parking spot (Lot A – General Parking). This will be its new resting place while I attend classes.
I then go searching for my classroom. The GMU campus is not new to me. I was a student in 1998, and had proudly shown my old ID to friends. “It has your SSN on it.” That is what I expect them to say. But what they say is “My God. You used to have hair”. Of course I did. I was not born bald.
“My God, I will be the oldest student”: I told a friend: “I will be older than most of the students”. “You will be older than your professors”. That makes sense since I will retire during this term and it is hard to imagine a retired professor. I am now older than most people in my life I remember as old.
I wander around the campus and over to Robinson B where my class will be. I sort of knew the campus last time it was here, but what I notice is an almost absence of directional markers, as if one should already know where one is going. Then I realize that this is another time, and pull out my phone and pull up google maps.
I get to my classroom early and wait in the corridor nervously. I feel like the new kid in a new school; a feeling I have not had since I went to high school at the age of 12. But this school is totally different from any school before.
There are still students in my classroom as the previous class is still in session and I watch them. Totally different experience than before. All of the students are sitting at desks with their laptops open, working away. Last time, I was at school, we were still using that archaic form of note taking: the pen and paper. At that time, we were still talking about the future impact of desktop publishing. It is like landing in a future version of what I had known.
So the room empties and I wait a respectable time before entering. It is empty and remains so. I go outside and check the room number. Yes. It is B106. Maybe R B106 is not Robinson. Maybe R is someplace else in some code as yet undecipherable to me.
I check the schedule and yes it is the right time and the right room. And yes. Even the right day; it is Wednesday. I did not check to be sure it was the right year. The idea of being there in the wrong year was just too unrealistic.
So I start wandering about in the hope of seeing my lecturer. I know what he looks like because I have watched a couple of YouTube videos featuring him. I even checked his rating on the appropriate site.
It has been a long time since being in this building and I find it hard to navigate.
I stroll the corridors looking for a sign of life. Like a deserted planet. My classroom was deserted except for me, but at least there was life in the other nearby classrooms. This building has empty classrooms and deserted offices. And each floor appears to be a different department, none of them the English Dept.
Finally I find someone in an office and ask “Excuse me but I have lost my class. Do you know how you find a lost class?” She looks up the information on her computer and tells me that I appear to have been in the correct classroom. Luckily she directs me to the English Dept. office.
I locate this on the fourth floor of Robinson A.
There are three staff working in the office. It is like a crowd compared to the rest of the place.
“Excuse me but I have lost my class. Do you know how I could find my class?” I repeat. The person closest to the door checks and yes it was the right room. “Isn’t there anyone down here?” I explain that I went down there and it was totally empty.
Luckily, someone overhears me and says that someone told her that she was not attending the class that night. (Nothing like ‘someone told someone told someone’ information.) It had been cancelled because the lecturer had a book launch “or something”. So we all decided that something was amiss, but we had no idea what and there appeared to be no way of knowing.
I am not one to let a good opportunity go to waste, especially when people feel guilty. I actually had time to work out some outstanding logistics for my enrollment. It was good to do this in person. To enable the English staff to put a face to a student name. Taking the class as audit, I feared anonymity. But my physical appearance (and age) certainly guaranteed remembrance. Now, also being the poor lost lamb of a student who had lost his flock would become my badge of honor. I will forever be the senior student who had lost his class.
So, now I am enrolled, have a parking pass, and have met my dept. staff. All that is left to do is find my teacher and class.
If found, please return them to Robinson Hall B, Room 106.