PARENTING, TRAVEL, AND LITTLE JOYS
It's been a long time since we've had a good embarrassing story here. I used to teach standardized tests, so I've heard lots of people's standardized test horror stories. But mine always wins.
The Time I Took the LSATs:
I decided at the last minute to go to law school right after college. I didn't really know what I was doing in college, and I didn't have any hustle. It hadn't occurred to me to get ready for life in any way other than getting good grades. But I loved the law classes I'd taken, and I was good at them, so I figured, what the heck. Cue me signing up for the last possible session of LSAT exams to meet the fall admission deadline. I think they were scheduled for December 18th.
I went to undergrad at Syracuse, and it was the end of the semester, so we had a notoriously big advertising project due to end our senior capstone class. Things were busy, but I fit in a little studying. And then, in the computer lab working on finishing the project, I saw that a big storm was predicted for the whole Eastern seaboard. It was looking like the LSATs would be delayed, and I would have plenty of time to work on my project.
Not so, however. The December 18th LSATs were canceled and delayed for every single testing location between Maine and Virginia except one: Colgate University, where I would be taking my exam. Great.
Colgate is about a 45-minute drive from Syracuse, but to be sure, I left my house maybe 3 hours early. So at 4 am, I got in my Corolla with a Janet Jackson tape, a box of clementines, and my printed Mapquest directions (wow I really dated myself there, huh?), and hit the road.
It was snowing. A lot. In fact, when 2 hours and 45 minutes of VERY slow driving had gone by, I was getting close to Colgate. I could see the campus, but no driveway. And then I hit farmland and realized that I must have passed the entrance. So I did a U-turn. And I U-turned right into a ditch, completely vertical.
I was fine, the car seemed fine, and the drive had been slow enough that it wasn't even that scary. Just a slide, and then a tip. I turned off the car, but left on the hazards, figuring that I would need to be towed out anyway, so it wouldn't matter if I needed a jumpstart. At least maybe no one would hit the car.
I opened the door like a hatch and pulled myself out, and the wind slammed it back shut. Someone stopped to ask if I was ok, which was apparently the breaking point, because I hysterically sobbed, "I need a ride to the LSAT so I can go to law school." Poor guy. He turned out to be a professor at Colgate, and he drove me there. I had indeed missed the entrance. It was snowed completely shut. We took the back way.
I arrived about 3 minutes before the arrival time, but I was the second person there. The two proctors were twin sisters in matching Winnie the Pooh sweatshirts. They were very nice, and let me use their phone (I wasn't cool enough to have a cell phone in 2003, ok?) with my mom's expired AAA card and tell the tow truck that I would be back to the car in a few hours.
We ended up starting the test about an hour late, because everyone was late. Turns out that delaying at LSAT testing date is at the discretion of the proctors, and I guess they felt pretty bad for, you know, endangering our lives or whatever. So I sat down to wait, and I noticed that the room had a repetitive, incredibly annoying drip, drip, drip sound. It seemed like a pipe was leaking, and was going to disturb us through the whole test. I was irate; couldn't we move to another room?
And then I noticed one of the proctors staring at me. And then the other one. I was the dripping noise. I was the leaky pipe. And the pool of blood under my chair had spread enough to start soaking into my sneakers. Turns out when the wind blew that door shut, it cut a pretty nasty gash in the back of my leg. Awesome. At least I had time to stuff my pants with paper towels before the exam.
Took the exam, finished a half-hour early, called AAA again. The proctors were nice enough to drive me to my car. We drove right by it. It had snowed over 2 feet during the test, and the car was completely covered. This would be a good time to tell you that I'd left the window open. Awesome.
AAA came. The man was wearing jeans, Timberland boots, and a jean vest. And nothing else. No socks, no coat, and, most importantly, no shirt. He was 7 feet tall. The battery, miraculously, started. He hooked up the big chain to the car, and then told me to get behind the wheel, turn on the car, and put it in reverse.
I asked what I should do with the wheel when he started pulling, and he said my favorite thing of all time. I can't tell you how often I've recalled this advice. Here I was, running on no sleep, had a car accident, just took the (up-to-that-point) most influential test of my life, bleeding everywhere, freezing, car full of snow, been in an exam for like 7 hours, and this man, who can't even remember to wear a shirt in a snowstorm, says to me,
"Well, lady, you just gonna do the opposite of whatever you did to get in there!"
Yeah, it was a great day. I got home after dark, and when I walked into the living room, my roommate looked me up and down and said, "what were you, mauled by a bear?"