My leg cramped from sitting at a table with too many people. Our chairs bumping into one another and an occasional knee brushed mine. I could smell the mustard on the leftover sandwiches permeating the stale air of the conference room where we gathered before the start of a semester to discuss budget guidelines and tweak our educational plans from the year before. The sandwiches always smelled and here they were, right on schedule, smelling again. They really needed to refrigeration immediately.
My eyes shifted from the clock to moving lips, clock to beads of sweat and foul body odor, the smell of crusty, dirty socks causing me to tune out periodically. My aesthetics proving most critical when I had the least control over them.
Students can’t get their classes. Poor Jake here had a line out the door last semester. Students even brought their lawn chairs. Isn’t that right, Jake? Jake?
“Huh. Oh, yeah. Right. That did happen,” I mumbled and cleared my throat.
I bet the chicks dig you, that must be it. Larry panned into my face, all nose, smiling from ear to ear. I felt nauseous and the room tipped from side to side. Throughout Larry wouldn’t go away.
I turned my head toward the door, wanting to dash with no one noticing. Trouble was, everyone stared at me, their faces etched in stone, as if I had the winning answer to the billion dollar question. I tried to hide my temporary lapse of daydreaming.
“Tell us how you do it, Jake.” Larry pressed, as if challenging me.
“Well, Larry, it’s just that my class makes everyone feel like an expert. They take my class to try to impress their friends. It always happens in an election year. They want to talk politics. Let me tell you something, my class is not politics. It’s not! It’s government, which is different.” I slammed my palms on the table, not realizing how worked up I was getting.
“Of course, Jake,” said Marla, the Instructional Dean at the helm. “Thank you for sharing.”
Larry’s smile faded and he popped up to help himself to a warm sandwich.
More mumbling and shifting of paper, sorted and passed. A stack of paper landed in front of me with a thud. The little hand on the clock jumped a whole hour or I may have napped, let my head fall. Drool escaped from the side of my mouth, a promising indicator that sleep did occur.
“I’m sorry. What was the question?”
“Your educational plan, Jake. If you’re done with it, you can set it right here.” Marla patted the stack.
“Sure.” I hadn’t looked at the thing since last year.