Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Watch Out for the Dead Ends

Long about the time that I was a hardened and grisled collegiate of nearly half a semester, I was in the student center checking my mailbox between classes. This was a very important activity because I sure as hell didn't want to miss the coupons for pizza or the offers for free money. No sir. Having just gotten the knack of opening my university PO box and figuring out what it meant to turn the dial to 46.5, I checked my mail hastily, dumped the junk, and headed to my next class. I should probably mention at this point that I was burdened with my bookbag at the time, this being my heaviest day of class both in credit-hours and poundage of books.

I headed out of the post office area, past the computer lab, and into the common area where several dozen students were lounging and milling about during their down time. The architecture in this particular building is quite unique, having been built in the 1970's by, I think, Frank Lloyd Wrong. There was this weird oblong oval ramp that led from the main floor (not counting the sub floor I was now heading towards) to the third floor. It took nine zig-zag-zigs of this ramp to get from the bottom to the top. All of this, of course, is irrelevant at the moment except to illustrate the curiosities of the building I was currently meandering through. Not quite having gotten the hang of navigation in the said student center, I took a wrong turn near another ramp heading down to that sub floor I just mentioned.

The ramp led to the nearest exit and straight to the building where my next class was located. I thought I had planned my course aptly, but realized after peering around a thick brick column that I had come out on the wrong side of the divider between the common area and the ramp leading down. "No problem," I thought. "I can make it over that divider."

So, not wanting to make a fool of myself for having had to turn around in front of everyone in the student center and making obvious my lack of college building geography, I decided to simply hop over the five foot tall, one foot thick concrete barrier. This may sound like trouble brewing, but I actually could and can make it over a barrier that size without much difficulty.

So, I gathered a bit of speed in the few precious feet I had before the wall and vaulted over it by placing my left hand on the top of the wall and lifting my feet perpendicularly to my body away from my supporting hand. I had performed similar gymnastics before in a like manner, but I had made one minor miscalculation. Or rather, I had left out one crucial variable in my calculations. I usually didn't do this with a bag strapped to my back that weighed somewhere in the vicinity of fifty pounds. Myself, I actually cleared the barrier, but my bookbag hung low as I passed over the wall in parallel with it like a pole vaulter in a successful vault. My bag caught the wall, and impeded my landing slightly.

I turned in midair - while horizontal I remind you - rolled on my way down, to the ramp which was probably another two feet lower than the other side from which I launched. I actually managed to land on my ass with my bookbag soon joining me, still strapped to my back. I jumped up quickly, hoping no one had noticed my less than deft aerial maneuvers. As soon as I made it to my feet, I was staring directly up into the face of a young woman who looked stricken with worry about this idiot who tried to jump over a concrete barrier. When she asked if I was all right, I told her, "Of course," in that way that ego-bruised men do, as if everything had gone according to plan, and besides I'm tough and don't get hurt. So, I ran off to my next class without looking anywhere but straight ahead. I know everyone in the commons areas saw my stunt and it was some time before I had the courage to head back that way.

I'm glad I did that so that I wasn't embarrassed about having to turn around in front of everyone. Oh, and my ass hurt for about three days afterward. Go me.


Josh said...

Oh man! I bet you were hauling around the Bertrand Meyer, weren't you?

Matt said...

Ah, no, not yet. This was much earlier, when I was a freshman. I think the Finney Calculus was in there and possibly Barrett's intro CS book.