Picture me in a tiny waiting room. I'm not alone, as is unfortunately always the case lately. I stare blandly at a newspaper, hoping it appears as if I'm immersed in it. But who am I kidding, I can't act. Do I just have a face that people want to talk to? (Really? No, I doubt that.)
"This is so boring, right? I mean, this really is boring. I don't know why they expect us to just sit here, and they take their own time. The professors, I mean. This always happens. Just because we are students doesn't mean we have all the time in the world to spare. I have so many assignments due, you have no idea. Do you have any assignments?"
I barely manage to look up and nod, when he continues.
"The other day this professor made me wait outside his office for an hour for one signature. It was so irritating. I have a life too you know. But he is a good teacher, so I won't really complain. Do you know him, Something-or-the-Other?"
I open my mouth to answer, but settle for a nod instead, as he spirals on.
"He's good, right? But maybe not so good as This-Other-Guy. He does know how to manage a class well. Last Friday he was discussing feminist theory. I know, it sounds boring. I mean, that's what he said. There's so much stigma attached to the word. Like you add unnecessary bad implications to things like mental illness. But he explained what it actually is, and he had all these other ideas about our culture, and it was genius, all the things he was saying. I mean, most of it was completely over my head, which is what happens when he talks. That's his real charm. But the thing is, when we think of feminists, we have this typical image, don't we...?"
I wonder how many words he's getting out every minute. I have never seen a mouth work so fast. It's like he doesn't need to breathe. He pauses, suddenly and looks at me, fleetingly expectant. I hurriedly nod. That seems to do the trick.
"...exactly! Well, he explained it very well. I don't think I can tell you exactly what he said. You should take one of his classes next time. The-Other-Guy's, I mean. Something-or-the-Other is also good, like I said. But he doesn't give such good grades. That is the only complaint everyone has against him, anyway. But do you really think that grades are that important?"
I sneak in a nod, that sadly goes unnoticed.
"I mean, don't you think that if you do your work well, you'll get that good grade? Do you think it matters in the long run which grade you had? No, right? Who is going to ask you how much you scored all those years back. No one, that's who. So the quality of teaching is more important, yes?"
A pause. This time, I'm ready with a succession of nods. His face glows with unbridled pleasure at being agreed with. He momentarily struggles with suppressing the joy to get back to his point.
"Exactly. So where was I? I forgot." Astonishing. "I talk a lot." No kidding. "Anyway, forget all of that. We've been in the same class for so long, and I hardly know you. Why don't you ever talk? This professor, we're here to meet... what do you think of him...?"
I take a deep breath and open my mouth to finally begin my end of the conversation... and the door pushes open.
"Oh, it's time, do you want to go in, first? Or should I? I do have a class right after. And I need to have breakfast before that. Did you already have it? Maybe I'll be done quickly. Can I go in, first?"
Nod. Nod, nod. Another nod. My neck hurts.
"Great, see you later. Wish me luck." Nod.