I called my mom a while ago, “Hey, how’s it going?”
She burst into this “horrifying” story about her chemistry test that I’d like to retell because it should totally be the basis of a Mormon commercial or a new Pay it Forward movie:
Setting: College chemistry classroom, at a tiny left handed desk.
Atmosphere: In-class test. Timed test. “Quiet,” except for the occasional nose sniffling, heavy breathing, and pencil squeaking in the background. Mother is sitting, shoved into an awkward fitting chair (she is right handed).
Exposition: Mother is going back to school because she and her husband have no retirement plan anymore (because when the economy went down, so did their savings and their home). She is going to school on government loans to become a nurse. She is taking the prerequisites necessary for applying to a Nursing School in Idaho, which accepts only 30 students a year. She really really needs to do well on her prereqs, otherwise the time and money is all a waste for her family. She still has three kids at home.
Complication 1: Professor approaches Mother and says, “I’m sorry, but you can’t use a graphing calculator.”
Complication 2: Mother says, “Is this a graphing calculator?” (She has borrowed the calculator from her daughter, Lissa, and has no idea what a graphing calculator is. She is at least twenty years older than everyone else in the classroom.)
Complication 3: Professor says, “Yes, that’s a graphing calculator and you are not allowed to use it. It says so on the top of the test.” Mother gives Professor the calculator.
Climax: Mother begins to cry like the six babies she has raised (although quietly). She is the oldest in the class and has been using the graphing calculator (although none of its features because she doesn’t know how to do anything other than + or – or / or x!) to solve the advanced chemistry problems on the test. She tries to focus on the math problems, to do the problems with her pencil, but there is only so much time and all the numbers are blurry.
Falling Action: 15 minutes later, Professor shows up with a newly bought calculator from the book store on campus. He says, “I could tell you really didn’t know what a graphing calculator was. So I got you a calculator that wasn’t one.”
Resolution/Denouement: Mother feels saved. And gets a 98% on the test.
Ps. I want to be that kind of teacher (and that kind of test taker).