Strip mall school

I am at work. It's close to the end of the night, around the time when people start leaving and, if needed, passing their still-out pages on to people who will be around to typeset them later. My co-worker MR is getting ready to leave. He comes over and asks if we (Ashley and I) want to go see the new stores. I'm really not sure what he's talking about, so I decide to check it out, only after confirming that he needs me to send A2. So Ashley and I get up and walk with him down the hall a bit, past this large, bubble-shaped glass window overlooking AutoZone Park, where a day game just happens to be going on (so much for it being the end of a publishing day, which, for us, comes at about 11:30 p.m.). (This makes no sense for lots of reasons, including the fact that my office is certainly not close enough to AutoZone Park be connected to it by a hallway.)

The corridor we're in is long, so the trek takes some time. It's mostly empty, but as we continue walking, we begin to notice more and more unfamiliar people milling about. We pass a couple of empty store fronts (they sort of look like stores in airports; small, shallow) and see, at the end of the hall, where all the people are coming from: McDonald's. There is, apparently, a new one that has just been built on our floor. There are huge glass doors leading to it, and on the other side, huge glass doors leading to the outside. MR says it's time for him to go, so he slips out. Ashley sort of disappears from my view too. All I can see and concentrate on are the tons of flabby-ass touristy types hanging out in McDonald's, my new work cafeteria. There are fanny packs and lovehandles everywhere. I have to get out.

So I start backtracking, heading back toward the office. I stop at the bubble overlooking the baseball field for a minute and watch the game. They're playing to a packed house, and the view from our little bubble is fantastic. I realize I'd better be getting back to work to typeset the last of my and MR's pages, but when I get back to the newsroom, things have been rearranged and no longer are there people I work with there; I'm now seeing student-types, holding books and sitting in those cheap wooden desks. There are people there I recognize, including Crystal Wade and Amy Forrest. Two teachers — ashy blondes in middle-age, neither of which I recognize — are telling us to find seats and get situated. I sit in front of Crystal and behind Amy, and I'm asking them what's going on. They're not sure. Crystal says, "I went to UT and even I don't know what's going on!"

One of the teachers begins writing things on the board. It's barely legible, which is pissing me off for two reasons: One, teachers should always use clear handwriting; Two, it appears she's writing quiz questions on the board.

The first question I figure out. The answer is l33t. (Dammit, I can't remember the exact question, but it was more like a series of clues than a straightforward question.) I mouth the answer to Amy when she turns around, stumped. The second question I can't read. Nor the third. Nor the fourth. She's writing answers on the board from which we can choose. I can't read those either, and I'm sitting four feet from the board. I vocalize my trouble. The teacher shushes me. I fall out of my desk and sit on the floor, pawing through my books and paper. The teachers tell me to sit down and behave. It's odd to be causing a ruckus in class, but who are these people and why are they having class where I was, just minutes before, working? How did they get in? And why a McDonald's open to tourists?

Good questions, all. But I got no answers, because that's when I woke up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I went to UT and I don't even know what's going on!"

That so sounds like something Crystal would say.