POV: You Go to the EHS Library During Your Free Period
If your free period were a class, you would be marked tardy every single day. It’s not your fault; whoever made your schedule just hates you for no reason. Why else would you have class in the building farthest away from the library the period before your free? Why else do you always have to walk into the library a full minute after the bell rings only to see 99 percent of the chairs taken and half the room blocked from your view by the ever-present, ever-annoying group of boys standing around a table doing that weird thing where they’re moving their stretched-out arms up and down while arguing and simultaneously playing a loud video game?
Now, you have to surreptitiously crane your neck every which way to find the table your friends are at. There’s nothing more embarrassing than going to the library, not seeing anybody you know, and having to ask the people at the long tables if the seat farthest away from them is taken. It takes some neck shifting and a lot of momentary dizziness, but you eventually see your usual group sitting at the table in the worst part of the room.
As soon as you reach them, you say, “This is literally the worst table.” Your friends say, “It’s not as bad as that one,” pointing to a table occupied by ninth-graders that look (and act like) seventh-graders. This happens every day. Your friends never ever choose a different table. You all love to hate on this one too much. Plus, it’s always the only one available.
Finding a chair is the most painful part. You know the drill. You go up to a table with around ten chairs and only five people, all of whom are playing games on their phones. You point to a random empty chair and say, “Is someone sitting here?” No one looks up. One of the gamers says, “Yeah.” You’re annoyed because he hasn’t even looked up from his phone to see which chair you’re talking about. Then, you notice the black-with-a-white-logo backpack lying next to the chair. Oh. You’re kind of an idiot. This happens again with a different group of people and a different colored backpack. The third time ends up being the charm and you finally get a chair.
After dragging your treasured chair to the table, you take your laptop out of your bag. You go to Google Classroom and wince at the number of assignments you have to submit by the end of the week. You click on one and create a Google Doc. You start typing.
Suddenly, the room seems ten times louder. Has the girl at the table next to you been blasting TikToks at full volume this whole time? You make a face at her before realizing that you’re not wearing a mask and she could have seen you. You make a game out of switching tabs for the next ten minutes. Sometimes opening 2048 Cupcakes will kill three minutes. Occasionally, someone at your table will make a joke about a teacher you all have or a class you all take and everybody, including you, looks up from doing absolutely nothing productive on their computer to smile or chuckle.
Once the clock hits halfway through the period, you think to yourself, I should probably actually get work done. You look around the library. TikTok girl is still blasting TikToks. The annoying group of boys who were arguing are now cheering and violently slapping each other. The gamers keep banging their fists on their table. You’re not going to do anything remotely productive if you stay here. For once, you make what seems like a smart decision and tell your friends, “Guys, I’m gonna go to the quiet room.”
Ha. It’s not a smart decision. You manage to get a table all to yourself, but there’s a group of ninth-graders next to you who seem to have not registered that a quiet room necessitates silence. They’re gossiping about a teacher you had a year ago, and you try to get annoyed by them, but you’re secretly listening (and agreeing). One of them has a muffin that’s making you hungry. You check the time to see if you can make it to the lunchroom and back before the end of the period.
There are three minutes before the bell rings. You spend those last minutes actually doing work. By the time the bell rings, you’ve written an entire half-paragraph. You feel productive. After all, it was an entire half-paragraph more than yesterday. When you leave the library, you tell yourself you’ll start being productive next time. Spoiler alert: you won’t.