Lost In School

personal narratives Jun 03, 2021

By Lucas Tong

I was laying in bed, sleeping soundly, feeling cozy in my bed. Today was the first day of middle school, but it couldn’t hurt to sleep for just a few more minutes… “LUCAS! WAKE UP OR YOU’RE GOING TO DRIVE YOURSELF TO SCHOOL!” I groaned, why couldn’t I just stay in my bed for the rest of the day? Reluctantly getting out of bed, I dreaded the day ahead of me, which was undoubtedly filled with chaos.

I rolled off my bed and slumped to the floor in exhaustion, and to be honest, I looked like a train wreck. I was definitely not ready for my first day of middle school, and as I trudged down the stairs nearly tripping over my own feet, my mom hollered, “GET UP! YOU'RE NOT LEAVING BEFORE YOU EAT BREAKFAST!” I hoped that there was going to be something good for breakfast. Sadly, the universe just loves proving me wrong.

I sat down with a glum nutella sandwich staring at me. “HURRY UP!” my mom yelled over the deafening sizzle of the food on the stove. Normally, a nutella sandwich would be great, but today was different. First of all, this sandwich was anything but symmetrical. It was an utter tragedy. What made it worse was that the damage was irreversible. If my mom used white bread like I prefer, the bread wouldn’t have pitifully broken into two miserable pieces. Eating the thing was even worse. Just one bite filled my mouth with a horribly dry and sour taste. The abomination of a nutella sandwich was downright nauseating.

Eventually, I was somehow able to finish the thing, which was quite the challenge. Looking at the binders scattered across the floor, I regretted not packing my backpack last night. Slouching, I took my time picking up each binder and shoving them in my backpack one by one. Once I got to the last of the binders, the shoving that was needed to get the entire binder into my backpack switched to jamming them in with all my strength. The rubber on the sides of the binders did not help. 

After lots of shoving and pushing, my backpack bulged with all of the binders and school supplies I needed. Ready for school, I began to step-

“Did you pack everything? Pencils? Notebooks? The binders? If you forget anything I’m not bringing them to school for you.” my mom said in a harsh tone, pointing an accusing finger at me.

I looked her up and down, “Of course I did!” I said, exasperated because my first day of middle school was here and all she was worried about was pencils, notebooks, and binders. Nevertheless, I picked up my chromebook case and walked out the front door. 

Finally! I was starting to get excited for school after  spending  days stuck in my home with nothing to do. Virtual learning and summer were filled with headaches, empty cups accumulating on the table, and a lack of motivation. Not to mention binge watching an unhealthy variety of tv shows (I finished two seasons of one tv show in three days). I had a bad feeling the headaches were going to stay put, but at least there would be some diversity in my life now. The last time I was in school was August, for the sixth grade tour. After my mom finished saying, “Are you sure you remembered everything? If you don't, your grades will go down.” she pulled out of the driveway. The audacity! I gaped at her, envying her for her confidence in saying such absurd things. Why was she so obsessed with questioning my memory today? Today was a very important “first,” so even if I did forget something… that was not possible. Or at least, I liked to think that it wasn’t.

The ride in the car was silent, only the occasional bumps and the constant hum of the car was audible. I looked out the window, coming up with all of the possibilities that could happen. Eventually, I got so bored that I even came up with a small religion where I had bad luck and good luck, and I could spend them to get my desired result. According to my religion, you were split into three parts: emotions, mind, and body. Over time, I added more and more details with this religion. Today, I believe the reason why my religion was unreliable on my first day of school was that I was desperate for anything to cope with the uncertainty of the first day of school. What were the teachers going to be like? Who were my classmates? What were we going to be doing that day?

After polishing up my new and improved religion, I decided that I would spend all my bad luck on the car ride so that no bad luck could interfere on my first day of sixth grade. Then it occurred to me that that could result in a fatal car accident. So I decided to somehow spend all my good luck and bad luck at the same time, to make my school day normal, and peaceful. Then I realized that my good luck and bad luck probably wouldn’t even out anyway. So what was I going to do? 

As we pulled up to the school, I realized I had to make up my mind. Since I’m more or less an indecisive person, that wasn’t an option.

So, I made up a plan. When it comes to plans, you don’t have to know whether or not it will go well, it’s just something reassuring to stick to. It was precisely the thing I needed for this situation. My plan was also simple, mostly because I had no time to think of a better one, and I would forget a complicated one within seconds. As a Libra, I am extremely aware of my capabilities and weaknesses, such as astronomy. In reality, I have no idea what being a Libra has to do with being extremely aware of my  strengths and weaknesses, I just wanted to sound as though I knew what I was saying.

The point being, my plan was simple, and I told myself I was to accept and observe whatever happened to me and figure out how my “good luck bad luck belief” will apply to the situation. For example, if two bad things happen in a row and a good thing happens, I will take that as a pattern that will repeat throughout the day. That way, I had something to make me feel as though I knew what was happening. My plan was one hundred percent foolproof. I was sure of it. 

Looking back out the window, I blurted, “Why aren’t there any cars here?”  The parking lots were jammed with cars, but the drop off lane seemed deserted. Not a car in sight. 

In reply, my mom said, “Why aren’t there any cars here? Where do I drop you off?`` My mom is very helpful in that way.

“That’s what I just said!” I replied. I unbuckled my seatbelt and leaned forward to see where I was supposed to be dropped off. 

My mom was clearly getting frustrated. “Why is your school so complicated?” she exclaimed, “Aiya!” she proceeded to face palm herself in frustration. It was as if she was a kid sometimes. 

Eventually, in the distance, a small line of cars popped up. “I think you drop me off here,” I said, pointing to the line of cars.

“But isn’t that Acadia?” my mom asked, looking skeptical. Acadia was just one of the three connected middle schools in my district. I was supposed to go to Koda, but there was no line of cars there. Gowana, the last middle school, didn’t have a line either. We eventually decided to go toward the line of cars in front of Acadia. It was surprising that my mom was skeptical at first because she was the type of person to follow random cars on the highway thinking that they were going to the same place she was going to. Surprisingly, that method works a lot, and I hoped that it would happen here.

While driving toward the line of cars, it soon became visible that there was not just one line of cars, there were two. Seeing this, my mom face palmed herself again! Who was she to be face palming herself? If she accidentally dropped me off at the wrong school, I would be the one to deal with the consequences, not her. 

“So where do I drop you off?” my mom asked, as if I knew. Since it was our turn to drive into one of the lines and we didn’t make up our mind yet, we decided to pick a random one. Luckily, we seemed to pick the right one, because the line we picked drove into the the parking lot of Koda, which also had a stop sign and a rotting lime green sign below it saying, “PARENT DROP OFF HERE” which made it seem like it was the parents being dropped off, but who was I to complain to a poor sign? It had probably been through enough, considering that there were brown marks written all over it and the “P” and “H” were half gone.

Now that my first day of middle school was here, I wasn’t so sure that I was ready. What if I got lost? What if there was a human stampede and I had to lock myself in the bathroom to avoid being trampled? The possibilities of tragedy were off the charts. Preparing to get out of the car - “MOM! DIDN’T YOU SEE THAT STOP SIGN? THAT WAS THE DROP OFF PLACE!” I stretched the “MOM” out extra long to show how outrageous she was being today. 

When the car finally came to a stop, I grabbed my chromebook and walked out of the car, hoping that nothing bad would ruin my first day of middle school. Needless to say, that didn’t  happen.

I looked around to make sure no bus would run me over, and surprisingly, there were no buses at all. I must’ve been early. Walking through the middle school, everything looked the same as when I was there for the sixth grade tour. Big, confusing, endless, and… empty. Where was everyone anyway? I looked to the left, just a hallway, I looked in front of me, just a hallway. 

Then out of nowhere, something taps me on the shoulder. I swiveled around, and it was some kind of hall monitor. She looks me right in the eye and says, “Parent drop off kids have to go to the cafeteria.” She sounded just like the voice named Michelle on my dad’s old GPS. Tiny bit of emotion, but that tiny bit of emotion was enough to scream, “SASSY” and “CRANKY” in my mind. I stared at her, not knowing what to say. She never broke eye contact once, staring through me the whole time. That did not help. In fact, it only made the voice in my head scream, “SCARY.” 

Desperate to break the deafening silence, I merely murmured, “Okay…” and walked toward the cafeteria. Surprisingly, there were a lot of kids. Considering how short the lines were for drop off, I didn’t expect these many kids. There were so many that there was a whole line leading from one end of the hallway to the other.

They were also surprisingly tall, but what was I expecting? According to all the books about how terrible middle school was, kids were always tall. The books also included fighting over french fries, terrible lunches, lunch ladies that stare at you like hungry vultures, and a variety of gruesome events.

Surprisingly, the kids in line were polite, mostly because they were probably zombies. They didn't seem like the type of people to be nice at all, but I guessed that they were just staying quiet because of the cranky hall monitors.  As I was called into the cafeteria, a bunch of kids stared at me. I quickly turned to sign my name on the sheet of paper that told the teachers that you arrived at school.

I rushed to sit down to escape the staring eyes. Once I did, I found myself staring at the other kids myself. Everything was a blur. The kids came one by one, and eventually, the whole cafeteria was full. The last ones had to stand since there were no more seats left. The whole time, I was mostly focusing on how well everything was going. So far, everything wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, except for that one cranky hall monitor. (I swear her name has to be Michelle.) Even when we couldn’t find the place where I was to be dropped off, we were still able to find it with luck. 

Maybe today wouldn’t be so bad after all. Suddenly, the speaker made a loud BEEEEEP and everyone stood up. The aides had to use a microphone connected to the speaker to get the kids to sit back down. Then, the kids were called by columns to go to their first class. People were stampeding right out of the cafeteria. I could hear the pushing and jostling from inside the cafeteria. Once I was called, I realized, I have no idea where my first class is. So I just followed the people in front of me. I looked at my schedule, and saw that my first class was orchestra. 

That was not helpful at all, because I was in Koda and my orchestra class was in Acadia. I tried to look at my map, but since one hand was holding my chromebook and the other was holding my schedule, I had no hands to grab my map. My only option was to resort to my “good luck bad luck belief.” Since everything so far had worked out, this was going to work out, right? I decided to follow the crowd and found myself walking into the seventh grade hallway, then the eighth, and then to Gowana.

Great, I found myself on the other side of the middle schools. Now, it was going to be even harder to find my way to Acadia. Mostly because now I was surrounded by colossal eighth grade giants. With them walking around, bumping into people with their brick-filled backpacks, it was hard to just walk through a hallway. 

Luckily, I managed to find a hall monitor to ask for directions. As I asked her where my orchestra room was, it became clear that she had no idea where it was. She asked a math teacher, got a map, (Which was useless because it only showed Gowana.) walked around, asked more hall monitors, and we only got to Acadia. In the midst of the chaos, the hall monitor seemed to give up. She only said, “The orchestra room should be down there hon,” pointing to the Acadia exit and leaving. I’m sure she wasn’t telling me to leave, she was just telling me that she was leaving. 

Since I had no other choice, I walked up and down the hallway trying to find the orchestra room. I came across the band room, the chorus room, a FACS classroom, but still no orchestra room. I began to panic, what if I never found my orchestra room? Where is the orchestra room anyway? How was I supposed to find it? After ages of walking in the same hallway, the hall monitor appeared out of nowhere again.

“How come you haven’t gone to your orchestra room yet?” she asked, frowning. I told her how there was no orchestra room here at all. She clearly didn’t believe me, until she couldn’t find it herself. So she asked more hall monitors, and I panicked more. Eventually, she asked the band teacher and the chorus teacher.

To my surprise, the orchestra room was next to the band room and the chorus room! I wanted to evaporate out of rage. Why were there chorus teachers and band teachers asking if people were going to band or chorus when there were no orchestra teachers doing that? There were no signs saying, “Sixth grade orchestra here” either. There were a ton of signs saying, “Sixth grade band here” though. What was that about? Was my orchestra teacher too lazy to make just one sign? Who was this orchestra teacher anyway?

Walking into the orchestra room, I was shocked to see that I was the fourth one there. How? After all that panicking and pacing for nothing? I could’ve taken my time? It was completely outrageous.

Finally, when everyone arrived, the class began. That day, we didn’t even do anything, it was mostly introducing us to the lunch requests and the virtual morning announcements. To be completely honest, it was completely boring. Turns out, I didn’t even need anything to ruin my day for me. My first day was already destined to be boring. 

I began questioning my “good luck bad luck belief.” In the end, it did nothing except lead me into a false sense of protection. However, I must admit, the false sense of protection still felt nice, and it has indeed worked in some situations. So, I still stick with it today, as random and as unreliable as it is, it’s my last resort when facing uncertainty.

Once the class ended, everyone sprang up and we were dismissed by columns. The moment I stepped out the door, the sounds of talking and chaos filled my ears. I realized that I was lost again.



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