Friday, February 15, 2013

Graduation (Mis)Happenings

Even though I graduated in December of 2010 (still 2010! Still graduated the year I was supposed to!), I decided to walk in April 2011 to have The Experience. I'm a big fan of tradition and rites of passage.

My parents came down for the event and my older sister sent me a lei - because we Mormons like to pretend we're all Polynesian. I kid. The flowers were lovely.

After lining up with the rest of my graduating group from my department, they asked me if I would lead everyone in. Mostly because I near the front of the line anyway.

This was their first mistake.

I said yes, and eventually they signaled me to start walking around the Marriott Center to the entrance we were going to use to get onto the arena floor. 

But here's the thing about being in the Anthropology department - "anthropology" begins with an "A". They line our departments up in alphabetical order. I was the front of the front of the FRONT. I had hundreds of people behind me. Keep this in mind.

So the Corps of Graduates and I start walking and some official comes and puts the Master's students in front of me. I'm fine with this because it means I don't have to lead everyone anymore. We continue walking. I feel like the weight of responsibility is off of my shoulders.

We get to the entrance of the Marriott Center. We get inside the Marriott Center. The Master's students confidently walk in with admirable order. The officials stop me from going in. They instead have the students who will be sitting on stage walk in instead. Which makes sense and is all orderly and good.

The problem is that once those students walk in, all of the Master's students have already taken their seats. I am supposed to sit right behind them. AND I HAVE NO IDEA HOW THEY GOT TO THEIR SEATS. There is no usher waiting at the entrance to direct me where to go. All I have is a sea of chairs in front of me. I can't tell where there are (or if there are) aisles. I know nothing. I try to signal the usher across the way to let her know I have no idea what I'm doing. She doesn't pay attention because she is busy directing the graduates who are streaming in from the other entrance. So I'm standing there. With hundreds and hundreds of people behind me.

Here is a rough model of the Marriott Center to help you understand. Diagrams done in Paint always make things clearer.

The stage you can see. The yellowish lines on the edges are the bleachers. The Marriott Center, lest we forgets, seats about 22,000 people. And it was full of excited parents, grandparents, and significant others all paying hawk-like attention to the graduates walking on to the floor. The grey lines in the middle are the chairs for the graduates. Except there were a lot more of them. The "X" marks the entrance I was dithering at.

Now, I'm not one to give up if I don't know what I'm doing. I usually just make it up and forge ahead. After a quick conference with my friend Courtney behind me, we decide that we couldn't just stand there. We had to  do something. So I gamely walk forward. This is close to the path I took.

The green is the path that, looking back, is the one I *think* we were supposed to take. The red dotted line is how they eventually got us sorted out.

But, remember, we weren't the only ones walking into the Marriott Center! There was the other equally long - but better organized - line on the other side of the floor. They were filing in at the same time! And if you throw one cog in the graduation seating process, it messes up the whole delicate machinery. This is what the place probably looked like as a result:

The dark green lines are concerned and angry parents storming on to the floor to see what (or who!) messed up the careful choreography of the Most Important Day of My Child's Life.

Now I don't know if this is exactly how it looked, of course. I had my head down in shame until the first speaker stood up.

The upside to this is that unlike other parents who had to crane and use binoculars to find which be-gowned blue dot what their child, my parents had no such problem. They could easily point out that their Wonderful College Graduate was the one who messed everything up. You're welcome, Mom and Dad. I did it all for you.