Tuesday, April 11, 2006


“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” So goes the old Zen koan. More accurately in my experience would be, “When the teacher is ready to go home, a student will appear.”

I have my keys in my hand and my bookbag over my shoulder, just read to flip off the lights in my office when Mara steps into the doorway.

“Going home?” she says. Mara. From Tennessee. Complexion as milky-white as a bite of Jonathan apple.

“Trying. Whatcha need?”

“I have a dilemma.” Mara and I go back a few years. She’s a sixth year senior and has taken everything I’ve taught.

“A dilemma which would be….”

“I’m late. You know – late late.”

Click, whir. Brain making the connection to what a 23-year-old college senior means by “late late.”

“Oh, that kind of late. I get it.” I step back into the office and shut the door behind us. But I don’t sit down. It’s nearly 6.

“The one time my boyfriend and I didn’t use anything.”

“Well, that does increase the odds. Have you done a test?”

“That’s what I need…I kinda sorta have a problem. I don’t have any cash and if I ask my roommate, she'll blab it all over the Theta house. If I charge it, the bill goes to my parents and I’m afraid….”

“Say no more. All those questions. I gotcha. Want me to buy the test for you?”

“Would you? I’ll pay you back tomorrow, I promise.”

“Don’t worry. Let’s go.” We head for my car and zip up to the nearest pharmacy. Mara waits outside on the sidewalk while I plunk down 19 bucks on an EPT home pregnancy kit. It’s the first time I’ve ever bought one. (I am neither Catholic nor careless.)

I drop Mara and the box containing her future back at her car in the student lot. All I can think to say is, “Good luck!”

The next day I’m standing at the Coke machine in the hall as Mara reaches the top step from the first floor. She sidles up close, opens her palm revealing 19 dollars in crumpled bills. She presses the money toward me and I take it. “Everything’s OK. Not...you know,” she says. “See you later!”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The truest of people will never have reservations when it comes to doing the right thing.

1:06 AM  
Blogger BlondebutBright said...

Now that's a truly great teacher - going the extra mile! I'm glad it all turned out happily. And never underestimate the learning experience of purchasing a pregnancy test, be it for yourself or for a friend in need.

3:47 AM  
Blogger Lee said...

Can I get her number?

/one ticket to hell, window seat please ;)

7:19 AM  
Blogger liz said...

Whew. Glad you were there for her.

11:21 PM  
Blogger ichatteralot said...

The job of a teacher is indeed noble. Wish we had more like you around!

2:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully you aren't using the actual names of the students, and maybe you shouldn't use the actual name of the sorority either. It's really admirable what you did for her, but it's another social commentary on the school that you taught at and I'm sure those in the organization would appreciate your discretion - it could happen to any girl, in a sorority or not, and I think using real names detracts from that. Thanks, and keep up the great blogging.

12:40 PM  
Blogger theprofessor said...

All names-- people and sororities--have been changed. Thanks for reading. And this happened a while back. So "Mara" probably doesn't even remember!

1:52 PM  
Blogger Tabitha Grimalkin said...

I think it is so great that you took the time to help this student. Good for you!

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some people... I wonder what Mr. Moneybags gets to bail Mara out of her financial messes now.

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wouldn't a sixth year senior be closer to 26-27-28 years old, depending?

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some Freshman are just 17 when they start college, so even 6th year seniors are quite young.

7:06 AM  
Blogger OSUTuba said...

I am just surprised she actually paid you back! There are some college students out there that won't even think about paying a teacher back, let alone THE NEXT DAY!

7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Mara" just checking in. It was a little shocking to read this, but I remember this and there's no one else I would have gone to but Elaine.

And in my defense, as a 6th year senior I was 23, but had never done more than innocently kiss a boy until college. Don't assume we're all as crazy as the rest of our generation.

4:08 PM  

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