I’ve been riding the subway to school since the sixth grade, and before that, I endured the horrors of the yellow school bus, so I consider myself an experienced commuter. In this craziest and most unusual of times, students taking online classes from their bedrooms are lacking the usual trip to school, but do not let that deceive you: The commute is alive and well. Here are some tips to get you through the process so you can quickly and safely bask in the glow of your computer screen lecture. The following advice is brought to you from the depths of my denial. I mean, er, wisdom.
The first challenge you will encounter on your way to class is an alarm clock that is broken, too quiet or otherwise inadequate. The solution to this problem is to call upon your friends and family to drag you kicking and screaming (screaming about how much you love and appreciate them, of course) from your slumber. You likely have people in your lives who are also stuck at home and have nothing better to do than become your personal alarm clock, whether in person or by calling you repeatedly. Chances are, if you are cooped up with another human being, they are so sick of you by now that they’d relish the opportunity to bang some pots and pans together next to your sleeping ears.
Once awakened, you no longer have to deal with the stress of picking out clothes or perfecting your hair or makeup because, let’s be honest, who gets dressed anymore? However, you are now confronted with a whole new stressor: picking your Zoom background for the day. You can easily bring the same flair and dash of spicy chaos to your curated Zoom personality as you would to your outfit and accessories for an in-person class. Please refer to this helpful guide and quiz to minimize the minutes spent on indecision.
You may have been used to sometimes-daily train delays in your past life, but nowadays you’re up against a host of even more frustrating holdups en route to Zoom school: delays in motivation and coordination. Whether your foot gets tangled in a blanket, tripped up on an uneven patch in your carpet or slid from under you by the coffee that has sloshed out of yesterday’s mug, there will always be required maintenance, service changes and other poorly explained reasons to be late. To avoid future delays, you might consider traveling around your house or apartment on roller skates, the domestic equivalent of giving up on public transportation and taking an Uber. Thank you for your patience.
Stopping for Breakfast
Picking up breakfast on your way to class can also slow you down, and that’s no different at home. Personally, I cuddle with a coffee maker at night and keep a full array of breakfast cereals on my bedside table to minimize the time it takes. It’s no Freshens, but it does the trick. I tried to include milk in my satellite pantry, but I quickly learned that refrigeration is not, in fact, merely a suggestion. If you’re forced to make a trip to the kitchen for any of your breakfast needs, keep your eyes down and walk quickly to avoid distractions. The PlayStation is calling your name just like your chatty neighbor would on your way to school; exchange pleasantries as you walk, but slow down for no one.
The last obstacle you’ll typically face is an overcrowded elevator, or in this case, an overcrowded internet. Between working and taking classes from home, streaming the newest Netflix hits, and Googling cooking tutorials and homemade hand sanitizer formulas, everyone is online right when you need to launch Zoom. Even your sister’s cat is watching videos of mice on YouTube. The Wi-Fi network is buckling under the pressure, much like your sanity, and the sound of your laptop overheating has replaced the equally awful buzz that the Lowenstein elevator doors make when they’re angry.
Short of going off the grid, there’s not much you can do but pray (your favorite deity T-Mobile is also working from home right now). If I were smart, I’d have saved all my class Zoom links in an easily accessible place to save time, but why would I do that when I could spend ten minutes sifting through old emails and probably get distracted by a particularly intriguing phishing scam?
There is no guarantee that you’ll make it to school in one piece, but there never was anyway. If people ask how it’s possible to be late to class in your own home, there’s no better time to stutter inaudibly and pretend that your screen has frozen.