During my first semester at BYU, I made two critical mistakes. First, I signed up for three-hour-long night classes two nights a week. Second, I chose the Open Door meal plan which only allowed me to eat in the dorm cafeterias instead of the Diner’s Plus plan which let students eat at any food place on campus at any time. These two mistakes combined meant that when I had my night classes, the cafeteria had closed by the time they were over so I always missed dinner and ended up very grouchy due to almost-starvation.
One Wednesday night after class, I plopped myself down on my bed in my dorm room and started in on what was now a regular tirade. My roommate listened patiently and I finally decided to stop whining and just go down to the little Cougar Corner store in the Morris Center to get something to eat. I never had any cash on me, so I grabbed my checkbook and headed down.
I was young and stupid with money, so I needed to get something very cheap to eat because my bank account was down to its last few dollars. The little convenience store had a grill and so I chose to order a chicken burger that cost something like $2.08 after tax. The employee took the order and rang it up on the cash register and then looked at me expectantly for payment. I pulled my checkbook out of my pocket and sheepishly asked for a pen, embarrassed to be writing a check for such a small amount of money. The guy gave me A Look, which I perceived to be annoyance and slowly reached over to his register and grabbed a pen to hand to me. He looked at me strangely the whole time. My sheepishness quickly turned to indignation. What right did this schmuck have to make me feel stupid for writing a check for $2.08?
“Well soooo---rrry that I don’t carry cash with me all the time and that I don’t have one of those fancy-schmancy debit cards and that I was stupid enough to sign up for a dining plan that only works in the cafeteria which is now closed because it is nine o’clock and I am just now getting done with the longest, boringest class ever offered at BYU and now you have the GALL to give me A Look when I am already tired and hungry and embarrassed enough to be writing this measly check AS IT IS, but it’s still money and you’ll take it whether you think I’m stupid or not!”
This is what ran through my head as I angrily wrote my check, ripped it off all sassily and then threw the stupid kid’s pen down on the counter. When I got my chicken sandwich, I stomped out of the store, through the Morris center, and through the S-Hall lobby filled with my peers, swinging my arms and head all dramatically the whole time to express just how annoyed I was.
After I ate my sandwich, my blood sugar must have corrected itself or something because I quickly became reasonable and happy again. My roommate and I were sitting at our respective desks with our backs to one another while we chatted on IM (probably to each other, we were nerdy and did that a lot even though we were in the same room). Something made me laugh out loud and when I threw my head back for a good guffaw, I felt something strange on the side of my head. I reached up to run my fingers though my hair, and pulled out a pen that was stuck there.
When I had laid down on my bed before leaving for the Cougar Corner, my hair must have landed on my desk. A pen with the cap still on had gotten clipped in when I sat up to leave and I didn’t notice it. It was just hanging there, on the side of my head, not even covered by my hair. I just about died when I realized that the Look I had seen downstairs wasn’t because I was writing a check for such a small amount…but because I had asked for a pen to write that check with when I had a big fat one hanging down the side of my face. The kid was just too embarrassed to say anything. What a sight I must have been, swinging my head around during my silent tantrum, while a pen that was obviously not supposed to be there dangled from my hair. My roommate swore she hadn’t known it was there when I got up to leave for the store. We laughed about it the rest of the night. Once again, my temper taught no one a lesson except myself. More often than not, when I get angry and throw fits, I end up looking like the fool. I’ll never write a small check without remembering that lesson again.