For as much doom and gloom prophecy I emanate, I’ve decided that I really am
an optimist after all. I expect so much more of myself than I probably
should, and I actually have the audacity to think I can accomplish what I’ve
optimistically set out to do.

Take this research paper I wrote for Public Administration. I didn’t
actually get started on it until around 1:30 the night before it was due.
Oh, I’d checked out lots of books from the library and downloaded a bunch of
pages off the web. I’d even started reading one of the books. But I didn’t
start writing till then, when I read through the stuff I downloaded, skimmed
through the books using the indexes (I forget the Latin plural), and put down
a couple of quotes and added their originators to my list of works cited. By
almost five, I had between 2 and 3 pages. I needed 7. I went to bed, slept
for an hour, got up, fixed myself a cup of tea, and optimistically told
myself that the amount of time I had till 9:30, the absolute latest time I
could finish and still make it to class on time, was plenty to figure out
what I was saying and add four more pages.

It turns out it was more like 6 pages, but that’s the beauty of manipulatable
line divisions. Suddenly, I had an instant extra page, which was good
because it was 9:30. I rearranged the works cited list, printed the whole
thing out, and drove to school through the rain to get there about ten
minutes late. But it takes that long for this particular class to get going

I remembered later on that I was supposed to talk about what the agency I was
writing about does, but I kind of forgot. I guess I’ll find out what happens
when I get the paper back.

After trying to stay awake through psychology, I laughed at every joke I
heard, through a combination of lack of sleep and relief at having the paper
completed, on the way back to my car. But first I had to stop by Dr.
Schaefer’s office and pick up a packet on taking the LSAT. He asked if there
was anything else he could do for me. I asked to use his phone. “You have
to dial nine to get out,” he answered. I called mom and agreed to meet her
at my favorite health food restaurant at one. That left me several minutes
to spend in the computer lab on the Internet. I walked out to my car, stuck
my key in the ignition, and was greeted by a weak dinging noise and the awful
clicking sound of a near dead battery. I’d left my lights on.

Saying a couple of words I probably shouldn’t have, I walked back to the
office, meeting Schaefer along the way. “Do you need something else?” he
asked. I told him about my battery. “I don’t have time to help you,” he
said, turning around and going back inside, “I have a meeting downtown in 15
minutes. But I’ll call someone who can.” He walked up to a phone on a
secretary’s desk and punched a button. “You have to be really polite to
them,” he divulged, “and they’ll come in about an hour. Hello? Who do I
talk to about a dead car battery?”

A few minutes later I was sitting on the trunk of my car, that had its hood
up, dangling jumper cables forlornly from my helpless hands. A young man
with a few days worth of stubble dressed in a denim shirt and jeans, both
covered in grease, emerged from one of the offices and started toward his
truck. I knew it was his vehicle because I’d seen him arrive. I smiled
plaintively. He raised his eyebrows, “Need a jump?”

“Yeah!” He mumbled something in reply and completed the distance to his
automobile, a big, black, ancient truck with “Cajun Bob-Sled” spray painted
in red along the side facing me. The tail gate bore perhaps a wishful
prophecy in the same crimson lettering, “Built for speed.” Then the truck
swung around toward my hood. He slowed down as he got close and asked me
something through the windshield that I assumed meant he wanted to know if he
was close enough. I nodded in agreement to whatever it was. He stopped the
engine while I stared at the flexible tongue sticking out of the truck’s
grill. “I gotta get a log or something to keep it from rolling,” he said,
running off behind one of the offices and into the woods. He came back with
a charred chunk of wood he jammed under his let front tire. Handing one end
of the cables to him, I attached the other end to my battery. He started up
his engine again. I stuck my key back in the ignition. The open door made a
cheerful “bing,” but the starter simply clicked, perhaps a bit more
energetically this time. The young man fiddled with the cable clamps; I
tried it again. He hit his accelerator. He tried knocking the corrosion off
the contact points. He unscrewed knobs, wiggled wires, and did whatever else
people do under car hoods while I watched from inside my car, my foot on the
button in the door to keep the light and dinging off. I figured if this guy
could get that black piece of junk to run, I could trust him completely with
my car’s engine.

My engine began making overtures at turning over after a while before finally
roaring to life. I smiled triumphantly at the guy as he handed me my jumper
cables. “Thanks,” I said. He climbed into his truck and waved goodbye.

By then it was getting too late to do anything on the Internet, and besides,
I couldn’t let my car stop. I went ahead and drove to the restaurant and
waited till Mom came. I told her the story over my veggie salad and vegan
lasagna. She laughed and declared, “Your Cajun angel!”

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