I'm now back up in Tallahassee getting ready to start my second year of grad school at FSU (holy. crap.) Some of the older and wiser students in my program asked that I be on the discussion panel for the new Criminology Grad Student Orientation. Ironically, Kristin, who is actually one of the few people who read my blog, approached me yesterday before the panel, because consequently she had read about my teensy-weensy fear of public speaking. But, I did my best, sucked it up and sat down in front of those new students ready to answer any and all questions and
I do not believe my voice hit the octaves of a small chipmunk like it normally would, but I didn't realize until halfway through the panel that I prefaced most of my answers with "When I first came here, I was terrified" or "I was intimidated" or "I was a big fat pansy" (that last one wasn't true but it might as well have been). By the end I wasn't quite sure if I came off as down-to-earth and empathetic to their circumstances, or just some nut who is apparently scared of any and ALL of her surroundings. Awesome. Maybe if anything I gave them a little ego boost, considering I was a 24 year old, second year grad student shaking in her chair.
"You have questions!?!? For ME!?"
On a more positive note, while they were asking questions we came across the issue of parking on campus. My friend Alex had sent me a a funny text from last night last year when I first got here that said "You have a better chance of catching an STD than finding parking at FSU." Luckily I cannot confirm this statement, but that gives you an idea of how difficult it is for me to shimmy my little Jetta into an open spot.
This conversation gave me the opportunity to make
"Would you like us to drive you to your car, and then we'll just take your spot?"
FSU had a Chauffeur service!? How nice! What a polite, unassuming couple! After I hopped into the backseat I quickly remembered "You moron...you're now a criminology major, and you're jumping into a strange car" I felt like this is how bad Lifetime movies begin...an unsuspecting girl unknowingly getting into a Bonnie & Clyde-like situation. Oh well, too late now. So I cheerfully said, "I'm on the 4th floor" and they began their ascent to find *Tedarius.
*Tedarius is the name of my Jetta, in case you didn't know.
Well, imagine my surprise when we get to the 4th floor and....no Tedarius. I apologize sheepishly and say "it must be on the other ramp, or maybe on the 3rd floor." So we begin to head down to the next ramp and wouldn't ya know it....still no car. I am now frantically pushing my automatic car key, looking for any shimmer of a flashing light or a faint "beep beep", secretly wishing the key had an eject button and not a remote control trunk-opener. Who REALLY needs those anyway?
"I'm smiling but I'm about to have a nervous breakdown. SHOW YOURSELF, TEDARIUS!!"
Before I knew it, we had literally circled the parking garage a whopping three times. We had now passed the appropriate conversation that one would have when put in the awkward situation of a strange couple driving you to your phantom vehicle. And then the unthinkable happened. The young woman looks over at the guy driving and "whispers" loud enough so I can hear:
"Honey, I'm going to be late for class, I hope you find this girl's car but I actually have to get out soon."
WHAT!? So now I was going to be in the car, in the backseat, with JUST this strange boy? His girlfriend got out of the car, smiled at me, but then shot me this look that said "I pity you like a small child that is lost in a mall, but clearly you must be a moron."
We continued to circle the parking garage, while he asked me questions that were lined with a hint of skepticism, such as: "are you sure you parked in this garage?" "What kind of car do you have again?" "Are you a couple fries short of a Happy Meal?" First I felt panic, then embarrassment, then the "holy crap" fear that my car might be stolen. I must have crossed over into delirium because for a brief moment I thought to myself...
"OH. MY. GOD. I bet this is a joke and I'm ACTUALLY in the Cash Cab!!
As the sane part of my brain started to slip away and I waited for the disco lights to illuminate the ceiling, I quickly took notice of the scowl on the boy's face in the review mirror. Clearly he was not Ben Bailey and I was not in the cash cab. I also watched as OTHER multiple cars pulled out of spots...and his chances of finding a spot slipped away...and my chances of being a victim of parking lot road-rage dramatically increased. BUT THEN, just when I thought I was going to have to tuck-and-roll it out of there, I saw a glimmer of hope on the ramp between the 3rd and 4th floor. That faint "beep beep" in the distance!! I had found Tedarius!!! I didn't even wait for him to get within 50 ft of my car. I apologized profusely, thanked him immensely, grabbed my bag and what was left of sanity/dignity and high-tailed it over to my little elusive German car. I nearly fell over myself trying to get into it, and reversed out of my spot at probably 60 mph, and I sheepishly waved in my rearview mirror to the now 10-minutes-late-for-class Good Samaritan.
Moral of my story: If you are actually going to accept a ride from some poor soul just desperate for a parking spot, make sure you at least know where you've parked your car....don't get cocky. You may have been smart enough to get into one tough graduate program....doesn't mean you're brilliant enough to find your car in a small, 5 level parking garage.
I is a graduate student.