Classroom Politesse Takes a Back Seat to Something Amusing

    So I’m sitting in my first chemistry lecture of the quarter — which is clearly where my humanities-minded self wants to be at 8 a.m. on a Monday morning. Twenty minutes into class, this girl a few seats down from me decides it’s time to leave. She loudly weaves her way through what seems like an infinite stream of knees since it’s the first day of class and everyone came despite the 8 a.m. time slot. The lecture hall is freezing, the teacher is a bore and I’m on the verge of calling the whole thing a wash myself, so I can totally empathize with this stranger. Another 10 minutes pass and who comes pawing back? None other than the same young woman, though now she is wielding an egg, bacon and sausage breakfast platter from Plaza Cafe. And as she plows past me the second time, I realize — people are pretty goddamn rude.

    I guess it should have occurred to me earlier, as I stumbled awkwardly over the four people hugging the aisles, sprawled out limp like dolls, completely ignoring me and my “Excuse me, sorry, excuse me” mantra. We wouldn’t have to do this seat-hopping boogie if the first people to arrive would find a seat toward the middle — but then again, maybe the middle seats once housed plague victims. Who knows?

    So I tried to make as little contact as possible with the middle desk I’m now seated in, because if it isn’t swimming in plague-taint, it is definitely coated with 30 years’ worth of used chewing gum. The professor finishes with the bureaucratic announcements and starts actually lecturing — and I’m totally sidetracked when that kid who is perpetually 10 minutes late comes marching into class. He stomps all the way down the stairs, throws his brick-filled backpack down and plants himself front and center. In Rollerblades, no less! Does he really think no one notices?

    Totally unfazed, the professor — who is reminding me more and more of the teachers from those “Peanuts” cartoons every moment — turns on the overhead projector showing a color-coded periodic-table slide. It is then that a sound begins to register from behind me and I turn around only to realize that I’m stuck in front of two gabbing sorority sisters. The concept of the whisper is lost on them. Carbon dating, dating John — my mind splits between the professor and the conversation behind me, causing my note-taking hand to seize.

    If the professor notices any of this, he doesn’t let on, engrossed as he is with the out-of-focus graph he’s just slapped on the projector. I squint my eyes and crane my neck, but I’m frankly not getting anything from this blurry screen. As the slide switches to some obscure atomic model there is a sudden burst of sound — is that a cell phone midi version of “Funkytown” I hear? It’s not a great song, and it sure as hell isn’t a good as a midi version. Vibrate isn’t exactly an acceptable solution either. Now all anyone in a six-foot radius of the epicenter can hear is “Waaaaaaaaaa waaaaaaaaaa waaaaaaaaaa.” I feel like if it happens again, I might have to take matters into my own hands and grab the perpetrator’s backpack. “Here’s the guy! It’s his backpack! Everyone stare!” I’ll yell as I wave his vibrating bag in the air — still no response from Professor Oblivious, of course.

    And what is up with that kid two rows ahead of me? I know this lecture is mind-numbing on a stick, but put that laptop away. Look, you aren’t using that thing to take notes and we all know it. I’m already struggling to stay awake through this monotone professor typical of lower-division lectures, and now I’m about to be hopelessly distracted by this kid’s Facebook.

    What I’m really wondering at this point is why these laptop people even bothered walking to lecture. Why did these I’d-rather-be-Rollerblading-to-Plaza-talking-to-my-lifeless-sorority-sister-on-my-pink-Razr-phone people even show up? No one is taking attendance in a class of 300 — and it’s not as if they’ll gain anything from physical presence alone. Don’t get me wrong, there are days that I don’t feel like taking notes — so I don’t go to class. But by being impolite, these people are wasting their own time along with everyone else’s.

    Why go to a lecture you plan to ignore? Wouldn’t that conversation be enjoyed more over a bowl of Golden Spoon? Wouldn’t you rather be surfing the waves at La Jolla Shores than surfing the Internet in York Hall? Or maybe you’re like me and would have preferred an extra hour of snooze time. I don’t know about you, but the small plastic seats of a classroom aren’t exactly my favorite place to lounge.

    I mean, sure you’re paying 20 grand a year to be here, but if you’re just going to spend that lecture hour on Facebook, why not take a break from class and do something more useful — and more courteous — with your time?

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