The phrase is “If you’re on time, you’re late, and if you’re late, you’re fired.” Well at SLA, we have four latenesses equals one detention instead. Surprisingly, I’ve never had to attend a detention at SLA. 8:15 A.M. has become a staple in my head over the years; just get here by that time and the phone call home won’t come so I won’t get aired out by my mom. That’s my only objective when I my alarm goes off at 6:55 A.M.
I wake up and take a 25 minute shower that feels like only seven minutes. It’s now 7:20 A.M. I’ve got 22 minutes to get out the house or I’m late. SLA is unique in Philadelphia as we have no uniform, which I love. The next challenge is to make an outfit on the spot. Most of the time it’s just a hoodie with some pants or basketball shorts and a pair of Nike sneakers but even that takes a good five minutes to put together (often because my clothing smells like it hasn’t been washed or has some random stain). Now it’s time to give myself a quick once-over to make sure nothing is off with my face. Ears are there? Check. Eyebrows? Check. Bags in my eyes from exhaustion? Check. My hair is pretty used to it’s look so I push it back twice and to my right three times. My appearance suggests I’m ready for school. It’s now 7:28 A.M. I have 14 minutes to leave the house.
Here’s when my mother sends me a text reminding me to go to school. It’s not unusual so I shrug it off. It’s 7:30 now and I go to wake up Luke. Luke has a hard time getting up some mornings. You have to scare him to get him up. He gets woken up at 7 A.M. but always goes back to sleep.
“Luke it’s 7:35!” “Get Up!”
This is when I proceed to go pack a lunch and Luke turns into Usain Bolt. I pack the usual. The peanut butter and jelly, the protein bars, pretzels, yogurt and probably leftovers from previous nights. I tend to need 3000 calories to stay among the living. I have this packed and then pack my baseball bag. For a practice, that means just a glove and cleats because I don’t feel like having a change of clothes. It’s now 7:40 A.M. I’ve got two minutes.
These two minutes go about 50 times faster than a math class. Oddly enough, in just five minutes, Luke’s left the house. The competitor in me kicks in and I bolt out the house and walk to the trolley stop.
Like usual I’m two minutes late to my stop, which still gives me a solid chance of being on time. I know 7:53 A.M. is the magic time where the only way I am on time is if SEPTA conductor code name “Jerry Rice” is driving. The driver gets his name because of his surprising resemblance to former football player Jerry Rice. He’s very fast and hasn’t let me down before.
If everything goes as expected I get on the trolley at 7:50 A.M. I’ve got 25 minutes. Before my senior year, there was always one person who I knew if they were on my trolley I was late. That was Micah Henry. He accumulated almost 200 lateness’s (if not more) in his SLA tenure and the sight of him on the trolley was equally exciting as it was frightening. I didn’t want to be like Micah, my Saturday mornings weren’t meant to be spent in our cafeteria.
The trolley lands between 8:06 to 8:14 P.M. If it’s before 8:12 A.M., Benjamin Simon, who also rides the trolley, classifies the extra minutes as “leisure time.” When there’s leisure time no matter how short, I get a good conversation in with Benjamin before school. When it’s too late to enjoy that leisure time, I speed walk to school. I see other kids run and even though I could be late, it gives me a good chuckle. I never run to school unless I have three lateness’s from that month. If it’s 8:15 A.M., I celebrate the on time and get ready for class even though I’m late to that.
SLA has provided me with a glimpse of how I’m going to function everyday in college and has brought understanding to how I’m geared from the moment I wake up. That start time 8:15 A.M. isn’t a when school starts. It’s a countdown. My weekdays are geared to successfully reach school before this time, which I failed to do yesterday, when I acquired a 14th lateness.
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