College Scheduling Skills

My ability to get into jams is rivaled only by my extraordinary talent at getting out of them.

turn in a parking garage

My brain has the bells and whistles that everyone else's has, but sometimes I don't hear them unless I'm listening for them.

I may not be the first person who has managed to pull a prank on herself on April Fool's Day, but I'm the first person I know.

Here's the story: Groggy after a sleepless Friday night, I decide to jump in my car and head out in search of kolaches, those yummy Czech pastries. Now, the college I attend has a five-floor, 880-car parking garage, and, as you might imagine, it's not so easy for an attention-challenged person, like me, to find her way around in it. As I walk into the massive structure, it hits me: "Oops, where did I park?" No problem. It's Saturday, so there can't be many cars inside.

Wrong. It's a zoo inside. Floor 1... nope. Floor 2? Not there either. Floors 3 and 4 are a wash, as well. I never park in the basement or on the roof, but -- desperate now -- I try both. I run up and down the stairs, continuing my search. Did someone move my car as a prank? Omigod, did someone steal my car?

A half-hour later, I leave the garage, distraught. My plan is to alert campus security, then book a one-way trip to Micronesia. Suddenly, I come to my senses. Christine, you did it again. Did you not remember that you parked your car behind your dorm? I feel way too foolish to go anywhere but back to my room, in disgrace. No kolaches for me.

I had just "pulled another Christine." That's a term my friends use when referring to my uncanny ability to get into jams -- or to describe my amazing ability to get myself out of jams, especially those of my own making.

Many of the jams I get into involve academics. Exhibit A: Arriving at class and realizing, "Uh-oh. Test today... forgot to study." Lucky for me, my teachers usually have mercy on me and let me reschedule the exam for a later date.

It's not like I connive to have my tests rescheduled. It's not that I'm lazy, either; I'm just as likely to show up prepared for a test that has been canceled as I am to be unprepared for a test that's still on. It's just that the reminders I set for myself add up to nothing. Why? Because: a) I have about 100 of them, and b) I forget to be reminded by my reminders.

One of the worst "Christines" happened last month. I needed extra time to prepare for a communications test, and accidentally rescheduled it for the day and time when I was supposed to take a philosophy exam. I notified my philosophy professor that I needed to reschedule his exam so that I could make up another, "major" exam.

A nice man, he e-mailed me notice of my impending academic demise. After much pleading on my part -- and a reminder that I had arranged for accommodations through counseling services -- he granted me a reprieve. (Thanks again, Professor R.)

Okay, I know what you're thinking. Why don't I take tests on their assigned days? Well, my friends, the brain is a complex organ. It can remind or deny, motivate or debilitate, set off warning bells or convince you that everything is going to be all right. My brain has the bells and whistles that everyone else's has, but sometimes I don't hear them unless I'm listening for them.

Sometimes, "pulling a Christine" has a big payoff. Like the time I rescued, on impulse, an ex-boyfriend's dog from the pound. I convinced my parents to keep the dog "just for a few days, until we could find her a good home." Somehow, in my subconscious, I must have known my parents would get attached to Charley, and that she would still be living with my family years later. Which she is.

As a person with ADD, I am going to get into jams that other people would easily avoid. This propensity has been true of me since day one, and it doesn't appear to be going away. So maybe I should learn to accept it instead of using it to beat myself up, which is what I have been using it for. After all, without it, Charley might still be in the pound.

 

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