The Graduate

For the first time since I was five, it is September and I am not in school.

Aside from the fact that my days are relatively empty now that my summer jobs are over and my friends have all returned to their respective institutions of higher learning, I don’t feel that different. I don’t miss staying up until 9AM studying and having to walk-of-shame home from academic buildings. I don’t miss matching the first letter of the day of the week to the first letter of a drink and calling that a legitimate excuse to black out. Margarita Monday? Tequila Tuesday? Alliterations make me sicker than Tortilla Silver.

Still, I’ve stumbled across one great post-grad loss for which I was totally unprepared.

It all happened when I was in New York City a few weeks ago at this place called U-Way. I had walked in searching for a snack and an outlet. The entire place appeared to be made of metal and kale and fluorescent lighting. As the hipster at the counter rang me out for my water and whole wheat wrap, she asked me a question that rocked me to my very core.

“Student?”

“No.” The answer fell out of my mouth like a shot of wheatgrass.

I barely even noticed that my total came to $11.79. That’s how shook up I was.

“Student?” “No.” Not me. Not anymore. Not now.

I sat down to charge my iPhone and have an existential crisis. I turned to my friend Kristy, who is both a nursing student and from Amsterdam, a combination which makes her cool as fuck.

“Kristy. The girl at the counter just asked me if I was a student and I had to tell her ‘no’.”

“That’s right. You’re not.” She answered as though I had just told her I wasn’t a pigeon.

Desperate not to look too panicked in front of her, I concentrated all my efforts on inhaling my wrap. When I felt my blood sugar level begin to rise, it occurred to me that the cashier was probably only asking in order to give me a discount. And I had my old student ID still in my wallet. I probably could have knocked 80 cents to a dollar off that meal if I’d just lied and given her the answer that has been true for the last fifteen years.

 

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