21 March 2011

would ten minutes be excessive?

I am a creature of habit. I always order the same drink from my school’s coffee shop. I take the exact same route to each of my classes, down the way in which I swing ever so slightly on the handrail in the stairwell in my dorm. I even have a chosen toilet and shower stall in my dorm bathroom that I always use.

But none of these neuroses are as significant as where I sit in a classroom. On the first day of classes, I select my seat very carefully. Where I sit is crucial to my behavior in class—it determines how rapt with attention I am. If the chairs are arranged in rows, I generally choose a seat near the middle in the third row. If the chairs are arranged in a circle, I’ll pick one directly opposite the professor. If the chairs are arranged in a square, I will sit on the side opposite the professor, but closer to the corner closest to the door. I’m not sure why I am compelled to pick these seats, but once I have chosen, my seat will remain my seat until the end of the semester. I even get to class exactly seven minutes early to make sure I get my seat.

This systems works well if there are other creatures of habit in my class. We understand each other, and therefore we do not deviate from the established order.

The trouble only begins when there is a person who likes to “switch things up.” As you can probably tell, I am not one of those people. I tend not to like people like that. They make me uncomfortable with their unpredictability. But, at the same time, I am not a confrontational person. So, when I see someone else sitting in my seat, I panic a little. That is my seat. I need to sit there. But my desire to appear normal to strangers always trumps my desire to sit in my chosen seat. Despite the inner turmoil, I sit somewhere else without causing a fuss.

At this point, if the crazy spontaneous person is decent, he or she will probably say something along the lines of, “Sorry I took your seat! Do you want me to move?” And I will always say no, because I don’t want that person to think that I am crazy. I smile sheepishly and shake my head, then select an inferior seat.

The ordeal does not stop there. Because I have been displaced, I in turn have to displace someone else. I have to inflict upon someone else the agony that I am experiencing. I absolutely hate being put in that position. I feel like such an asshole.

But I do it because I don’t want to make a scene, or make anyone uncomfortable. So I overcompensate by putting all the discomfort on myself. Luckily, since I understand that my thought process is not normal, I’m used to confining a flurry of activity to my mind while keeping a straight face.

Then I resolve to arrive at least eight minutes early next time.


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