Thursday, March 12, 2020

First Robin

I've told this story here before, but it has been a while.  I also realized that it's the 40th anniversary of the incident, so here is another shot.

I have yet to see my first robin of 2020, and robin talk always sends me back to an afternoon at Marywood College in 1980.

Let me establish a bit of a foundation.  I always hated late afternoon and evening classes, but there are times when there is no way around them.  You have to be there when the classes are offered.  I took every 8 AM class I could get my hands on.  French was one of the exceptions.  There were two semesters of French in my freshman year, both at the same times, two classes per week-- Monday and Thursday, 4 to 5:15 PM.

To say the least, this was not my best subject.  It was a C for the first semester, in the fall. Things went down hill after that.

I struggled mightily in the second semester, and those classes were new and fresh experiences in terror.

There was one afternoon, right around this time of year.  I was walking back to my car after a particularly brutal class, cutting across a big, grassy field.  Depression and fear were my emotions of the day.  I just wasn't getting it. Failure was a real possibility.  The sun was setting.  It was chilly, but you could tell that spring was near.  I looked down and saw my first robin of the year.

The robin froze.  So did I.  We started at each other.  He gave me a look that said "Everything is going to be okay."  He went back to looking for worms.  I went to my car and drove home to do some studying, and some worrying.

I finished the semester and waited for my grades to arrive in the mail.  Yes, they were not computer delivered back in the day.  French:  D.  I was thrilled.  I passed.

As I have said here before, I should have failed, but the professor saw I was trying hard, and she cut me some slack.  At least, that's what I like to think.  It's probably because she didn't want to look at me for another semester.

As the years have passed, the lesson has never left me.  If you see someone struggling with a task, go easy on them, if they are trying.  It shows they care, and not everyone picks up something new right from the start.

By the way, the French professor is now the university's president.  I told her the story, minus the dumb robin part, a few years ago

Sometimes, the best things you learn in college are not in the text books.