They say an elephant never forgets. Alas, I am not a pachyderm (good thing... having tusks would just be awkward). You may be wondering why I am discussing a large land mammal. Don’t be pushy. Basically, I am forgetful. I don’t forget small things like meeting times or homework assignments; I forget fairly simple concepts that I rarely utilize inside the Duke bubble. Things a zebra-print day planner won’t help me remember. Duke lets me get away with practicing very few real-world skills—though our university is constantly challenging us academically and intellectually, our ultra-advanced studies leave little need for elementary-level knowledge.
Even though I still try to use my DukeCard off campus, I’d like to discuss a different monetary issue that I have with Duke (tuition? bazam!). I’ve realized that my main problem with currency involves remembering how to use what little real money I handle. Raise your hand if you’ve counted change recently. Yeah, I’m not raising mine. Because I rarely have the need to exchange paper and metal, I found myself in a predicament recently: $18.81 was my total. Pretty sweet, huh? I managed to count out 18 dollars quite easily, but those pesky little coins ruined my payment groove. Of course I ended up looking ridiculous in front of the woman at the cash register because it took me an extremely pathetic amount of time to whisper the addition to myself while counting on my fingers before actually handing over the money. Maybe I should practice in my room before I go out to dinner again, but, being a typical Duke student, I’ll probably hold out for a Coinstar machine in the Bryan Center.
Equally embarrassing to admit is my inability to tell time. Luckily, I can read a digital watch, but analog is a whole ‘nother ball game, people. My sense of time revolves mostly around when professors stop talking and the angle of the sun coming through the windows of the Perkins-Bostock bridge. I feel the University has led me to rely on these rudimentary methods. Is there a clock shortage in Durham, or do I just have class in all the clock-less rooms? Perhaps I have all the professors that have caught on to us clock-watchers. And even when I have had the privilege of being in a classroom that is fully equipped, I have noticed that the clock is invariably hanging in a position that makes it completely illegible from where I am sitting. It’s impossible to decipher the meaning of the distant hands, and the pretty glowing numbers on my cell phone inevitably tempt me back into technological dependence. And my street cred suffers when I need at least 20 seconds to give someone the time.
My incompetence as a driver may not be as socially ostracizing as my first two confessions, but nonetheless, it is pretty darn sad. As a freshman last year, I didn’t have a car, so my only practice behind the wheel was the random times I borrowed a car to make a Target run. Although I returned home over the summer and had a car available to drive, my boyfriend often insisted on navigating (chivalrous, yes, but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with my being female). This year I am lucky enough to have a car at school, but I try to avoid driving it unless the errand is absolutely necessary. With the nearest parking spot at least 20 minutes away, driving loses its appeal pretty quickly. Getting around mostly by walking has eliminated any need to look out for stop signs, obey traffic lights, or use much depth perception. So although I’m now well versed in how to analyze the social construct of sexuality, speak Spanish, treat conduct disorder and discuss the roles of Greek women, I no longer possess a skill most 16-year-olds have (I did, however, manage to hold on to my adolescent awkwardness). I am now a dangerous person who no longer stores traffic laws in the forefront of her mind and who has frightened many pedestrians and law enforcement officers recently.
At first glance, I may seem to be an all-knowing super-genius, but in reality I stumble through everyday life. When you graduate from college and can intelligently discuss the economic benefits of globalization or how a human cell fights disease, don’t act annoyingly superior before you make sure you can pay for something, read a watch, operate heavy machinery, or basically do things anyone over the age of eight can. You never know when you’ll need to estimate the time of your car crash for the police report and subsequently pay-off the cop to conveniently lose the paper work.
Anna Sadler is a Trinity sophomore. Her column runs every other Tuesday.