I stare up at a student in the fourth row and on the other side from where I sit. I usually can pay attention to the professor just fine, but this student is just begging for me to throw something at him. His head is down, resting on his crossed arms. His back rises and falls steadily. He’s sleeping. The green, ugly, beast inside of me hisses.
It’s not the fact that he is sleeping in class that bothers me, it is that if he is caught by the professor every student in the class will lose points. I have to sit where I am all the way across the room and hope that the professor doesn’t look at the student or that someone wakes him up. Sadly, neither of those outcomes happen. The professor sees the sleeping criminal and gives a decisive nod. Why couldn’t the student stay in his room if he was going to sleep, or have one of his friends make sure he didn’t doze off? I groan silently, this is going to put a damper on my whole day. I pay close attention to my grades. It’s partly because I’m very competitive and driven to succeed. It’s who I am. I don’t care if someone else doesn’t care about their grades, but mine are important to me. I don’t care what the kid was doing last night, whether he stayed up drinking, stayed out with friends, or just decided not to go to sleep at a decent hour. All I care about is the fact that it’s hurting me and I didn’t do anything.
My eyes lock back onto the professor and try to concentrate on what he is saying to the class, but my gaze is drawn to a girl two rows in front of me. My jaw drops to the floor, or at least, it would have if it wasn’t attached to my skull. The girl has her laptop open, which is allowed in class, but she is shopping online, which is definitely not. The professor stops talking and turns on a video that he wants us to watch that pertains to what we are talking about today. Ten minutes in, my gaze is distracted when the professor slides into the row two ahead of me. He sits right next to the girl on the laptop and speaks to her in low tones. I can’t read lips, but I know what he said bodes ill for the entire class. Two in one day, we are in so much trouble.
The girl closes her laptop and looks to the front of the class, not at the video, but at the wall beyond. She doesn’t seem as phased as I do. The monster inside of me claws to be free. It hates that the girl doesn’t care, that she wouldn’t feel bad about what harm she does to others. I grind my teeth and look to the video. I focus everything I have into understanding and learning something, but the beast inside screams in rage. The class ends with the professor telling the class of their loss of points on their grades. I stuff everything furiously into my bag and bolt out of class before I do something I’ll regret. I hate that this happens almost on a daily basis. Someone does something stupid and I have to accept their consequences. I swallow hard. Then I do the only thing I can do. I lock the monster securely in its cage, and power on faster. I have to work harder. Harder every time. The only thing I can do is control my actions. So I make myself work harder and block out the screams of the monster.