Monday, February 13, 2012

You're responsible? How... quaint.

I had to register for classes on Friday. AIRD is a really tiny school, so we still register with real people, at those white plastic tables that remind me of when we killed chickens on ours.

Ha. Now you'll never want to use our table again.

The other thing about AIRD is that it's really freaking expensive, so registering always sort of stresses me out anyway just thinking about all the money they're going to want from me in a couple weeks.

The last couple times have been worse because I'm not a full-time student anymore due to being flat broke. The people in charge always give me the worst looks, like I'm the scum of the earth for being responsible and not taking out loans to pay for school.

One or two quarters ago the powers that be (whoever they are, and they'd better hope I don't figure it out) instituted more paperwork for people like me. In order to take fewer than our planned course load (16 credits, in my case), you have to fill out a piece of paper asking for permission to take fewer classes, why you want to, what you're going to do to fix it, etc. This piece of paper has to be signed by no fewer than four people, sometimes five, depending on which version they happened to print that day, all of whom are very difficult to find and skitter all around the building just out of sight while you try to track them down. This time I got lucky and didn't have to go find the president; last time, not so much.

When you go and find these people, they all--each and every one--give you the Scum of the Earth look and lecture you about how you really need to be in school full time, you really need to take out loans so you aren't in school forever, there are options for paying back loans, it's really not so bad, and so on and so forth. All nonsense that I routinely ignore.

I dread it every quarter, so when Emily told us that we needed to go downstairs to register if we hadn't already, my heart sank within me and I became more depressed than I already had been after a couple of rough weeks. I gave Emily a dying fish sort of look, which I think made a lot more sense to her once I explained my reticence, and she very kindly came down with me for moral and practical support.

She knows what I'm talking about now.

The first person we saw when we got downstairs was the dean, who is big and probably mostly friendly, and gave me a nice long lecture that I really didn't appreciate the last time I had to register. Emily asked him if it was true that I always got lectured, and he said well it wasn't his fault, the lectures fall on the just and the unjust alike. Or something like that, anyway, but it didn't really improve my mood.

Ken, the head of the Interior Design department, happened to be free, so we sat down with him to get my classes in the computer. He immediately started registering me for four classes, which I definitely can't afford.

"I'm only taking two," I said.

"What?" said Ken.

This was not going to go well. I just knew.

"I'm only taking two," I said. "Don't put me in four."

"But I have to," said Ken. He hadn't planned on me happening to his day.

"NO," I said. "DO NOT put me in four classes. I won't take them."

I'm not usually that confrontational with people I don't know even a little bit, but I'd been through the wringer with this stuff before and wasn't about to deal with it again.

"But you're planned for sixteen credits..." said Ken, pointing at the screen. He was starting to look like a dying fish too, sort of how I did when Emily told me I had to register. His world was getting confusing.

"Yeah, but I won't take them," I said. "I'm doing this paperwork," and I picked up that evil piece of paper and started filling it out.

"Well, you need to go to Student Services and get replanned right now," said Ken.

I kept filling out the paperwork.

"Because you're planned for sixteen," said Ken, trying again.

"I know I'm planned for sixteen," I said, trying, trying to be patient, "but I'm only taking two."

"Then you need to get replanned," he said, "or you can do this paperwork." And he pointed to the pile I'd just taken mine from.

I looked him in the eye. "I don't want to be stuck with two," I said, slowly and clearly. "I just want two THIS QUARTER. I'm doing this paperwork."

"Oh. Ok," said Ken in a very small voice. The fish was almost dead.

At this point Jen, the head of Graphic Design, opened up and Ken gratefully handed me off to her. I took a deep breath and told him I knew he was just doing his job and it wasn't his fault. He thanked me and said he was glad I saw it that way. I was starting to feel bad for the guy. He looked so intimidated by the weird 5'5", 105lb redhead.

Somewhere in there Emily left, I guess because I was handling myself just fine.

I was short a couple signatures (the dean had skittered and the entire financial department was eating breakfast. Really?), but I headed back up to class, since that's where I was supposed to be anyway.

Phil and Zack yelled at me for yelling at Ken, because apparently he's the nicest guy in the world, and Phil cursed my Froot Loops. I'm a little afraid of breakfast now.

I thought I might be able to calm down enough to breathe again eventually, but I still had to get a signature from the dean and a financial aid person. Not really things on my list of Top Ten Fun Friday Activities.

I went downstairs, again--I spent a lot of time downstairs that day--and had to wait to see someone because the guy came out, closed the door, and said he was the only one in there and all of us who needed financial aid would have to wait until he came back down.

By the way, there were definitely other official people in that office, and there are windows on either side of the door so we could see them, even when they weren't going in and out.

Financial aid guy, who had a snobby face, in case you were wondering, finally came back and called me in to sign my paper. He couldn't just sign it, though, because he had to look me up in the computer, look at my classes, look at how long I'd been there, look at what I had left, look at how I was planned, and all kinds of unnecessary nonsense.

"This might be a problem if you have any Stafford loans," he said as he pulled my name up.

I knew exactly where this was going, and I was beyond done taking crap from anyone.

"Yeah, well, I don't have any financial aid, because I'm trying to be responsible and not go into debt," I said.

He laughed. He actually laughed. Derisively.

Then he realized he'd laughed and tried to choke it back by saying, "...Well that's quaint."

You should be proud of me. I didn't smack him or yell or attack him over the desk or stab him with a pencil or anything. I didn't say a word. I sat in my chair and I gave him the look of death. I looked straight at him until he got so uncomfortable that he looked away, swallowed a couple times (I'm not even kidding here), and said in a small voice not so different from that of Ken the dying fish, "...Well, it's admirable, I guess........"

Yeah, you better guess.

I was so mad when I got back to class that I had to stand there and stare at Emily for at least fifteen seconds before I could get the rant out. After I'd finished my tirade about how responsibility and not being in debt to someone all your life is quaint, I think Emily was about as mad as I was. She took that paper (the dean had skittered again) and stalked out of the classroom. When she came back, all I had to do was see Jen before I left to get a printout of my classes.

Best teacher ever.

For the rest of the day, every time Ken passed me in the hall he made a point of giving me a big friendly smile and saying hi to me by name. I guess I made at least one friend.