“What do you expect from me?” Tanya asked. She placed her books on the surface of her desk but didn’t sit down in her seat. Tanya had agreed with her parents she’d go to a community college and get her two-year degree. After that, it would be her choice to continue school or not. That was good enough for her parents as long as she had a degree to show for it. The thing was, she already had a good job. Tanya had been working there for two years, since she was sixteen. She didn’t have a degree and she was doing just fine there.
“I expect you to be on time,” Her professor replied. She stood in the front do the class with her hands on her hips. She sighed in disgust and pointed to Tanya’s seat. “I’d like to speak to you after class. You can sit for now and join us.”
Tanya shrugged and took her seat. She knew exactly what Professor White was going to say to her after class. Tanya would say the same thing to her and then the next time she had class, it was going to happen all over again.
Tanya didn’t want to mess up her work schedule because of school, so she had to decided to take online classes. This particular class, however, wasn’t offered online. So, she took the night class. However, by the time she got out of work there was a lot of traffic and the school was 45 minutes away from her job. So, she was usually about ten minutes late to class.
The first time she was late, she apologized to her professor and said she couldn’t guarantee it wouldn’t happen again. She always rushed out of work and tried her best to be on time, but she couldn’t clear the traffic out of her way. Her professor shouldn’t have even cared anyway. She was still getting paid, Tanya was still forking over thousands of dollars to the school. She had an A in the class, so she didn’t understand what the big deal was.
Tanya’s desk was the first one by the door and she always discretely entered and sat down quietly and did her best to catch up with whatever the rest of the class was doing. Professor White always made a scene and complained about how Tanya was disrupting the class thus taking away some learning moments from her classmates when it was, in fact, Professor White who always had to make a big stink out of Tanya quietly entering the room.
The rest of the class went on smoothly. Tanya kept her mouth shut and only answered questions when her professor called on her. Professor White was always impressed with her answers and never treated her differently throughout the class. It was as though nothing as ever happened at the beginning of class. Tanya knew, though, come the end, as soon as her classmates had all left, Professor White would put on her stern face.
Tanya beat her to the punch this time though.
“Listen,” she began to explain as soon as the last kid exited the room, “The class is an hour and a half long. I don’t think being late by ten minutes is such an issue. I’m close to the door so that when I enter, I’m not walking in front or around my classmates and I’m always quiet when I come in. I never ask where we are or what we’re doing I just listen and catch up on my own. I personally don’t think I disrupt the class, but you always have to say something which breaks the class up.”
Tanya drew in a breath. She had meant to keep that last part to herself. Now she was really in for it.
Professor White folded her arms over her chest and nodded. “Go on, I have a feeling you’re not finished yet.”
“Well,” Tanya swallowed, “I have work before class started and it’s 45 minutes away. This class starts at seven and there’s a lot of traffic. I’m not trying to come up with excuses, but it’s true. I can’t control the traffic and I’ve tried to leave work a little early, but it’s not possible sometimes. I’m sure you know that feeling. Unless it’s for something really important, you can’t leave class early, right?”
Professor White nodded her head again. “You’re not wrong. But you don’t think this class is something truly important for you?”
“No, sorry,” Tanya shook her head. “I didn’t even want to go to school but my parents wanted me to get a degree. The truth is, I already have a really good job and I love what I do. But I respect my parents and their wishes and compromised with them to come here. Even though I don’t care about it, I still do my best. I have an A in this class. I do all my homework and do well on the tests. So being ten minutes late feels like it shouldn’t be a big deal.”
Tanya breathed in and held it. She had psyched herself up all class to explain all this to her professor. This time she was brutally honest. However, she wasn’t sure how this was going to work in her favor though.
Finally, Professor White closed her eyes and lifted her shoulders. “I only want my students to work to the best of their ability. I feel like you could do a lot more with the extra ten minutes, but you bring up good points. You are doing really well in the class and, if I’m allowed to say so, you’re actually ahead of everyone else.”
Tanya smiled. That might not have been the right move to make, but hey, she was proud of herself.
“College is meant to prepare you for the real world and for work. It sounds to me as though you already have that figured out. I just hope you realize there’s room to change your mind and if you do, there’s nothing wrong with that.” Professor White explained.
Tanya nodded. “Yes, I know that. I’ve got a good thing going on right now though so I’m gonna take it and hold onto it for as long as I can.”
Professor White smiled but she didn’t say anything else.
“So… are we good?” Tanya asked.
“Yes, I think we are. I’m glad we got this sorted out.”
“Thank you.” Tanya picked up her books and left the room. This was the nicest conversation she had with her professor and she was glad Professor White seemed understanding this time around. However, they had this conversation so often that she wasn’t sure if her professor would forget all about this come their next class in two days.
Tanya was just going to have to wait and see what happens.