hello, do you want to partner up?


i went back to school today. i wanted to audit a math class because my math skills are horrible. i figured it would be a good idea to take a math class in case i ever get around to taking the gmat or the gre. also, i've been volunteering at the boys and girls club and at the public library, and sometimes, the kids have math assignments, and i don't know what the hell i'm doing. it's pretty pathetic, actually. one of the kids just had a worksheet on slopes, and i had no idea what to tell him. luckily, he didn't seem to mind. maybe he understood that math wasn't really necessary for real life, unless you get a liberal arts degree and realize, too late, that you want to do something else.

so, i signed up for this math class, and let me tell you, it was a hassle just to get it done. first, i had to re-enroll as a non-matriculated student - whatever the hell that means - and then i had to register for the class. then i had to go to human resources, fill out the proper paperwork, then get my supervisor's approval to take the class. writing it out now, it doesn't seem like such a big hassle, but it did at the time. all that work just to learn about numbers.

anyway, whatever. i did it. i set off for my first real class in almost five years. all eyes were on me when i entered piggott 308. i guess that i am old enough to be the professor. the class was predominantly female, and i sat by myself. the professor entered, a woman probably in her mid to late thirties, and she wore a hideous sweater. she set her bag down with purpose, and then she got straight to roll call. no hello, no how's everybody doing, none of that shit. just got right to it.

she went over the syllabus, and then she asked if anyone had any questions. no one said anything. after a long awkward pause of no questions, she told us to pair up. there were four girls behind me, so that wasn't gonna work. i moved over down a few tables. a girl with long brown hair looked up me. "you wanna partner up?" she asked. i thought it was funny the way she said it. almost like a southerner, a cowgirl. "sure," i said.

we got some worksheet with a bunch of dates and prices on it. professor wrote some questions on the board like: what was the price of a mcdonald's hamburger in 1989? what do you think the price of a hamburger will be in 2015? stephanie and i did our best to estimate costs and figure shit out. prices fluctuated throughout the years, and it was based on real data. i didn't know why it was so cheap one year and then so expensive the next. maybe it had to do with e. coli scares, inflation, recession, etc.

i started talking to stephanie. i asked what her major was. she said she didn't have one yet, and that she didn't know what she wanted to do. i wanted to tell her that i've been out of college for five years and that i still didn't know what i wanted to do, but i kept that to myself. she asked me if i thought we were supposed to write directly on the worksheets, or if we were supposed to write on our own paper and turn that in. i said i didn't know, and that it probably didn't matter. i asked if she had bought the textbook yet, and she said that she hadn't, but that she would probably buy it from a friend of hers. a graphing calculator was also required for the course, and i asked if she knew how much one costs. she said she didn't know and that she was probably just going to use the one she used in high school.

i felt bad for stephanie. i felt bad for everyone who didn't want to be there, but had to. it was just so fucking stupid. the class cost $1,015; a used textbook: $110; and a required graphic calculator, probably another $100. these students didn't even have a choice. they were going to do two and a half months of some shit that most of them probably will never use in their entire lives. unless they become engineers or physicists or architects - and they won't, trust me - what do they give a shit about linear functions and equations? i thought about how this girl was probably nineteen, and she didn't know what she wanted to do with her life, so somebody was making her pay $1,015 for a course that is not relevant to her interests, a course that, if she fails, there will be consequences.

i dropped the class.

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