Monday, March 11, 2013

"Here is the world of imagination, hopes, and dreams. In this timeless land of enchantment, the age of chivalry, magic, and make-believe are reborn--and fairy tales come true."*

   This morning I had to drive to Santa Monica College to take my math assessment exam. (You can read more about my adventures in math placement here. It's way more exciting than it sounds.) It was a long, annoying drive and I was super irritated that the test isn’t offered anywhere in LA County besides Santa Monica and Whittier. But oh well. Life goes on, no matter how fucking tedious it may be.

   I parked for TEN DOLLARS at the lot reserved for plebs without parking permits and got out to fork my money over to the attendant. He was about 800-years-old and didn’t see or hear me pull in. I walked up to his little hut.

   “Good morning!” His cheerfulness was a complete surprise. (What, no surly assholes running this lot? Had I accidentally stepped into Wonderland or Oz?)  “Are you taking morning classes or evening classes here at the college? You know, this lot has in and out privileges, so you can leave and come back if you need to.”

   “Oh wow, thanks. I’m just here to take a test.”

   “Well, don’t come back and talk to me unless you pass it!” He winked and laughed.

   “Then I hope I do pass it.”

   “Are you thinking about getting a degree?”

   “I’m trying to take a math class so I can start my graduate degree in the fall.”

   “School is very important. I have a couple of degrees myself. It can open doors for you. Just make sure it doesn’t open the wrong doors!”

   He gave me my change and sat back down to his Enquirer.

   I had never been to SMC before, and assumed it would be a lot like LACC. You know: dirty, disorganized and overrun with mean people who don’t want to help you, but may, in fact, spit on you if you get too close.

   But it’s like Rich People City College. It has lovely walkways with actual flowers and plants and shaded courtyards with picnic tables. It has buildings that look new or at least like they’ve been painted or cleaned in the last 50 years. It has a security guard who was nice to me and gave me directions. It even has students that don’t look like they’re headed home to commit suicide. It’s like Disneyland for people who haven’t quite figured it all out yet.

   The people in the testing center were both friendly and kind, which was strange and wonderful. And when I went to the bathroom, I saw this:
Some girl caught me taking a picture of this. But it was okay, because she was normal and we laughed about it. Never would have happened at LACC. None of the girls there laugh/are normal.

   Not totally sure what this is about, but I’m for it! Here’s the thing: on a regular college campus (you know, the kind that have dorms and beds and such), this would not only make sense, it would be kind of brilliant. Buy condoms in the security of the ladies' restroom! But on a city college campus, it seems sort of odd. Are they assuming that students are having sex right there on campus? I mean people don’t have sex at Disneyland! They wait until they get back to their hotel rooms. No way are people having shady sex in empty classrooms at Rich People City College. That would defile it and make it sort of sad. Unless it were, like, one of those "we met there and it was so magical, let's go do it there for the sake of making a memory" sex. Maybe at LACC (though that image gives me scabies), but not at SMC. So, while I think SMC’s general vibe is only enhanced by the ready availability of condoms, I still think they’ve somehow miscalculated. But good for them for promoting safe campus sex. LACC doesn’t even have working toilet paper dispensers. Stupid LACC.

   So, I took the test. And I passed it (I think…I didn’t realize there’d be trig on the ALGEBRA test, so my trig remains my ONEWEAKNESS! I got a 16% on the trig portion. Not too shabby!).

   Then I walked back to the parking lot.

   Mr. Old Man Sunshine stood up from The Enquirer and asked me if I planned to come back that afternoon for class.

   “Oh, no. I was just taking a test.”

   “Are you planning to get a degree?” he asked me.

   “Um, yeah. I’m going to get my Masters.”

   “School is very important. I have a couple of degrees myself. It can open doors for you. Just make sure it doesn’t open the wrong doors!”

   “Okay, I won’t.”

   “Hey, but if you’re not coming back today, would you mind giving me your parking permit? I have a friend coming by to visit later.”

   “Of course.” I handed it to him.

   “You have a great day,” he said.

   “You, too!”

   As I drove away he gave me a huge grin and a wave.


*The quote is Walt Disney talking about Disneyland. Santa Monica College is like Disneyland in many ways: including how it takes a million hours to get there and costs a buttload to park.

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