What NOT to Do When You’re Stuck in a Situation
I promise the details of this story are wholly accurate. Perhaps I shouldn’t be willing to admit that, but girlfriend can’t hide her crazy.
Long before I knew I was……..peculiar, I knew I was a nerd. I was a tad fond of grades, long essays, bizarro literature, standardized tests, report cards, teacher comments, recognition, sharpened pencils – OH MY – wonder wells up just rattling off the trappings of academia. Yes. I’ve seen a counselor about this. I wasn’t, however, the chick who did little and whizzed through. I had to study a lot and work hard. I enjoyed the work, but work I did.
And then one day during my senior year of high school, a life-altering piece of paper was delivered to our mailbox. In the span of a walk to the end of our drive, my future changed. I was going to Clemson University (Go Tigers!) on a scholarship. I was home alone when I opened the letter, but I’m certain all three of our neighbors (I grew up on a farm) heard the whooping cocktail of tears, jumps, screams, laughs, hysterics emanating from my room.
Over the following months that piece of mail grew heavier. The gravity of this gift wasn’t lost on me; to stay a Tiger I would have to maintain exemplary grades. I was going to have to work EXTREMELY hard.
On Thursday, August 22, 1991, I took that requirement to heart. Classes had begun the day before, and my professors had issued reading assignments right out the gate. So I decided to head to the library to get some work done. It was mid-afternoon, clear and sunny; I strode into the Cooper Library like I had the keys to the world in my front backpack pocket. Upon entering, I explored a bit and found the two underground floors to be the most still and hushed. This would become, over my four year stay, my place. I would go there to sleep, to listen to music, to hide, to hermit, but on this particularly quiet afternoon, I chose a desk and started cranking it out. I worked a few hours, gaining ground on my course syllabi like a champ. When I was done, I packed my brown leather backpack and headed upstairs. Quite pleased, I ascended deep in thought and proceeded to exit. When I pushed the heavy glass door, I slammed into it. It didn’t move. Embarrassed and afraid to see if anyone had witnessed my failed departure, I cautiously tried the next door. It didn’t budge either.
I looked for a sign to help me and found none. I turned around to approach the resource desk when I realized no one was there. And the lights behind the desk were dim. I was locked in the library. Stuck. On my second day as a college student.
I THEN noticed a sign announcing shortened hours of operation for the first partial week of classes. Many thanks, library friends [thumbs up]. It was time to formulate a plan. I walked over to a small room on the left where three pay phones hung on the wall (this was pre cell phone era; I did not have one and neither did the people I would call). I retrieved my calling card, punched in a million numbers, and called my boyfriend. My boyfriend WHO WAS FOUR HOURS AWAY. No answer. Fighting some panic at this point, I called my mom. WHO WAS ALSO FOURS HOURS AWAY.
Common sense has never been my strong suit.
My mom did answer, thank goodness or I may still be there, and told me to call campus security.
It was still bright outside and several kindred souls came to the library doors trying to enter. Deciding I didn’t want to be spotted by them through the front wall of windows, I retreated to the resource desk and claimed a chair and a phone.
“Hi; my name is Cookie Eaddy. I’m a freshman and I’m locked in the library…………………………No. I promise. I came here to study, went downstairs for a couple of hours, and when I came up to leave, the doors were locked……………………..No, I’m the only one here……………………………..Okay. Thank you.”
Ring. Ring. Ring.
Maybe it’s campus security. “Hello……………………………I’m sorry the library is closed…………………..I don’t work here………………………………..Well, you see, I’m locked in here………………………………No, I can’t go find your book anyway.” Click.
Footsteps on the stairs.
As it turned out, I was not alone.
“Hi. You’re not going to be able to get out of those doors; they’re locked. We’re stuck in here and campus security is on the way to let us out.”
“WHAT!?!?!?” squawked Increasingly Annoying Rush Girl (I’m not hating; I rushed as a sophomore). I am not making this up. “WHAT TIME IS IT? I CAN’T MISS MY RUSH PARTY OR I’LL BE DISQUALIFIED!!!”
Sucks to be you, I may have thought.
Officer You-Gals-Are-Idiots arrived soon and released us from our nerd confinement, and he even gave IARG a ride to her party.
“Thank you so much,” I said as we abruptly parted; I ambled across campus towards my dorm, wondering what in the world the next four years might hold for me.
So, if you find yourself stuck in a most unfortunate set of circumstances – probably much more grave than I have relayed here…
- Don’t allow yourself to think that “stuck” is a permanent condition. Even if you feel like your circumstances may never change (marriage, chronic illness, etc…) you always have the ability to change within your circumstances.
- Don’t look for solutions from folks who can’t help you. Like boyfriends who are four hours away. And even my mom – who wanted to help me but wasn’t in a position to. The solution began when I called the people who could open the doors.
- Don’t focus on what you’re missing. When we feel stuck, we often focus of all that a new set of circumstances might bring. I am confident Increasingly Annoying Rush Girl never gave a second thought to the hilarity of our plight. She was instantly consumed with what she was missing. She wrung her hands until Officer You-Gals-Are-Idiots arrived and she jetted out the door. Her circumstances were out of her control and her fretting didn’t speed her freedom one iota.
- Don’t ever underestimate the very real hazards of nerdhood.
And if you’re in the mood for more evidences of a long history of lunacy, check out how I learned to work the AC in my car here, the questionable comfort I offer my children here, and my die-hard convictions about Diet Pepsi here.