The class moved further down the shore, their fearless leader, Professor LeAnn Schmidt walking with seldom-seen enthusiasm a few feet ahead of the group of apathetic college students. It was a beautiful December Saturday morning in New Smyrna Beach, Florida but it could have been forty degrees and sleeting for all Prof. Schmidt’s students cared. Required to spend their Saturday morning on a school field trip, the six students who actually showed up were determined to enjoy the day as little as possible.
Oblivious to her student’s obvious malaise (as usual) Prof. Schmidt guided the group through some of the region’s most beautiful habitat, cheerfully stopping to identify and comment on any new shrubbery, vine, sea life or shell that caught her attention. She was in her element and nothing would put a damper on that, “Not even that brown-nosing blonde in the back,” she thought to herself. Making her way to the next ‘station’ on her planned tour, Prof. Schmidt winced as she heard her name being called repetitively.
“Professor Schmidt! Professor Schmidt! Come look, I think it’s a skate’s purse!” The bubbly enthusiasm of the blonde girl who just couldn’t seem to restrain her need to prove she was ‘head of the class’ was really beginning to grate on Prof. Schmidt’s last nerve. She almost preferred the drone-like apathy of the rest of her students to this girl’s constant need for affirmation.
“Yes, ok, let’s take a look. Um hmm, you’re absolutely right, that is a skate purse, or egg sack. Very good find, young lady,” Professor Schmidt said in a clipped tone followed by a forced smile. Besides being a bit of a know it all, Prof. Schmidt could not for the life of her remember this student’s name. Despite usually being pretty good with names, Prof. Schmidt shrugged it off as old age and turned to continue down the beach.
The rest of the day continued in much the same fashion. They would go several steps and then- “Professor Schmidt! Professor Schmidt!” and they would have to stop and acknowledge the pesky blonde’s discovery. Schmidt noticed that the blonde was even beginning to agitate the rest of her students despite their commitment to remain disinterested. But if there’s one thing slackers hate, it’s a know-it-all in the midst, and this girl was the mother of all know-it-alls.
As the group approached one of Prof. Schmidt’s favorite lookout spots on the walkway overlooking the coast, she turned to explain to her students some of the finer points of the landscape but before she could begin, “Professor! Professor Schmidt, look! A dolphin right behind you coming up to the shore! Oh my! He just caught a fish! Wow! Look!” the blonde raced past Schmidt, almost knocking her over in her enthusiasm to catch a closer glimpse of the dolphin not more than fifteen feet away.
Recovering from her near-spill, Professor whirled to face the rude girl and before she knew it, she began lighting into her, “Ok, I’ve had about enough of this. Young lady, I don’t know who taught you your manners, or if there was such a person, but it is obvious to me that their instruction was quite lacking. Furthermore, it is not polite or flattering to so flagrantly promote yourself in such a way that has me wondering why you are so eager to prove you are smarter and more observant than the rest of the class. You know, no one likes a know-it-all, Miss… Miss, eh… what is your name young lady? For the life of me, I swear I’ve never seen you before today,” Professor Schmidt was growing more and more certain that this blonde person was not even a student in her class.
Biting her lip in an attempt to keep it from quivering while receiving her tongue lashing, the blonde girl licked her lips nervously before replying, “Oh dear. I’m… I’m so very sorry. I was just so excited about everything that we were learning about today, I find all of this just so, so fascinating. That’s why, when my roommate, Laurie Benson who is in your class, said she wasn’t going to come today, I thought… well, I guess I thought I would come instead, not to cheat or anything, I just wanted to be here”. The last few words trailed off, and before Schmidt could offer the apology she intended, the girl bolted towards the parking lot and was gone in less than a few seconds.
“Well, that was awkward,” Professor Schmidt said to her remaining students, hoping her attempt at humor would lighten the mood a little. Looking from one blank face to another, Schmidt realized that neither the confession of their interloper nor her previous scolding of the poor girl had managed to tender even a spark of interest, she let out an auditory sigh before continuing, “Here we see the Brazilian Pepper, a nonnative species that is also considered a nuisance…”
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: What a fun day! At least I thought so… today I was able to tag along with Andy to New Smyrna Beach for a field trip required for his Florida Environmental Science class. The field trip basically entailed a tour of one of the beaches there, its sand dunes and surrounding habitat. The tour was led by his professor who was quite knowledgeable and enthusiastic about what she did (always a great combo, I find). Well, I learned a few things today on this field trip, beyond how to identify the different kinds of mangrove we seen in Florida. I also learned (or relearned) a lot about myself, and my need to be THE BEST in the class… even if I’m not technically in the class. Yeah, I’m one of those people, get over it. So, since I didn’t have to be there but chose to spend my Saturday there, I may have been a teeny tiny bit more enthusiastic about the experience than some of the other ‘students’. I mean, I was asking questions, and pointing things out and correctly identifying species… basically, I was straight up acing that class. I don’t think I was being obnoxious about it, I was just genuinely interested in everything we were seeing. Oh well, it was a freaking awesome day, I mean I saw a dolphin swim right up to shore behind us and grab a fish out of the water, less than a minute later we were watching a manatee float by and snort water into the air, and not to mention I finally learned some of the names of the different flora I’ve grown up around my entire life. Yeah, it was a pretty rad day… hope I didn’t ruin it for anyone by being AWESOME.
Love & Squirrels.