This morning was a study in salvaging confidence. Too often, my problems begin when I set out to solve a problem and someone speaks out of turn. Have they been told to do this? Are they following a script? Or are they exhausting the little bit of imaginary power they have? Or are they genuinely trying to be the kind of helpful person that annoys me so much?
“Good morning. Could I speak to someone from financial aid?” I asked the receptionist after being on hold for five minutes.
“Of course. May I ask what this is pertaining to?”
“I’m trying to determine if I can get any financial aid for a few non-credited courses.”
“No,” the receptionist said, firmly. “There is no financial aid available for non-credited courses.”
“Oh, okay.” There was no room for discussion apparently.
So there I was, hanging up the phone, just trying to be polite. The sad thing is, my back-up plan was to ask someone in a position of authority if I could post a link to my GoFundMe campaign, which I am still hoping will be useful in raising the money for the courses I wish to take. But no, the safe course of action was to hang up the phone and not ask another question.
Why wasn’t I just happy knowing that I had been put in my place? Because it seemed unusual that a receptionist, or switch board operator, would take the liberty of answering a question that was meant for the financial aid department. Yet here I was, with a fresh bruise on my already tender stomach from where so many other people had kicked me in an effort to shut me up.
The morning got progressively more frustrating. After I had some toast, I though, I should put some protein in my system. I was using the butter from a previous trip to the Cheesecake Factory and I had half a package left. John owns one of those little green omelet pans that are so handy and I figured that would be more than enough butter for greasing.
Only one burner works on the oven, so I had to do a bit of juggling as I moved a stack of pans to the front burner. I was doing this with one hand since the other was holding the little packet of butter. But I managed to move everything without a huge disaster and soon I had the green pan in place. But when the burner was on, I noticed that somewhere between the improvisational juggling act and the ignition, the remaining butter had fallen from the foil wrapping.
After a short search to see if I could clean up the butter before the dog lapped it up, I shrugged, figuring it was made from animal fat and it wouldn’t kill the dog anyway, and went to the fridge to get another small packet of butter and a jumbo egg. Everything appeared to be going smoothly. I had started to grease the pan then, a tiny flame leaped from the burner.
The butter from the first packet had fallen into the burner where I couldn’t see it and now I was very likely going to burn the place down if I didn’t’ turn the heat off. I threw the pan in the sink because I couldn’t clean the butter out of the burner until it had cooled down, and I very nearly gave up on having the egg that morning. But as I was putting it back in the carton in the fridge, apparently I had placed it there a little more aggressively than intended and the egg was cracked.
So there I was with a cracked egg in my hand. Throw it away, I’ve wasted an egg. The burner is still cooling down and I can’t just leave the egg to the elements while I clean everything up, so the bottom line is frying the egg is not an option.
Then my eyes fell on the boxes of macaroni cheese and my hot water kettle. My lovely hot water kettle that has been my most loyal appliance for the better part of two years. And I remembered who I was in that moment. I was someone who never apologizes about boiling macaroni and poaching an egg in the same water. And if macaroni isn’t a breakfast food than fuck it, I will have macaroni and a poached egg and call it brunch.
After I was finished with the best damned macaroni, reprocessed cheese, and poached egg with chives that I have ever tasted, I called North Shore Community College back and got the same receptionist.
“Good morning, could I speak to someone from Financial Aid.”
“Of course. What is this pertaining to?”
“This is pertaining to questions that are relevant to the financial aid department,” I replied. There’s nothing like the pause of shock from someone who has gotten so used to overstepping their bounds that they didn’t expect anyone to put them in their place.
“Okay, one moment please.”
Finally, I got the voice mail of the financial aid department. It’s not much, but it’s a start. Maybe when they learn of my campaign, they will find a way to work with me. But that will be their decision, not the power tripping switch board operator.