The Frequent Flyer Law and Guilty Secrets

The Boy Scouts of America have a motto that simply says “Be prepared.” There is an adage called “Murphy’s Law” that says “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” If you put this motto and adage together and give it a slightly new twist, you have the Frequent Flyer Law: Be prepared, because anything that can go wrong probably already has.

There are a multitude of things that can go wrong in any given day. Some of them are beyond our control, and some are not. For example, there can be problems with technology. If GroupWise is “down,” you may be inconvenienced, but that is outside your control. If you leave your pen drive at home with the documents you need for a class, that was within your control and now you’re stuck.

Then, there are all the opportunities for something to go wrong on the road to school. Frequent Flyers, by definition, spend a lot of time traveling from college to college. In my experience, at least once a week there is a highway accident big enough to stop traffic. The accident is outside your control (at least, let’s hope so), but leaving early enough to give yourself extra time if there is such an occurrence, was within your control.

Frequent Flyers are at certain campuses infrequently, perhaps only once or twice a week, and possibly at night. They may be the last to know when something is changed. For instance, I recently checked a library web page on the college web site to make sure they were open until 8:00. When the class and I got there, though, the sign on the door said they were closing at 6:30 each day instead. I couldn’t control the hours, of course, but I could take time to read signs.

It’s probably a good idea to point out here that although you are super organized, highly intelligent, and darned cute, you are still not perfect and will forget things or make the occasional silly mistake. To demonstrate, I will confide in you and tell you a guilty-secret mistake I made once. It was very simple; I put on brown sandals and left for class. No big deal, right? It only became a big deal when I got to campus and upon emerging from my car, noticed that I was indeed wearing two brown sandals, but they were from different pairs. Yes, it was embarrassing (please don’t tell anyone). And yes, obviously, wearing matching shoes was within my control.

My point is that while we do not have control over so many possible occurrences of day to day teaching life, there are things we can do:

  1. Don’t  be caught without an important document of part of a lesson. Follow your own advice that you often share with your students: save documents to your hard drive, your pen drive, and email them to yourself so you can access them anywhere. Remember, too, that pen drives do not last forever; they have a finite number of “fires.”
  2. Know alternate routes to all of your schools. Then, if you must exit the freeway, you can still find your way. Also, keeping county maps in the car for all of the counties in which you drive could be useful.
  3. Web sites are great, but they are not always up to date. Consult the site, but be smart and notice signs on doors, and send an email to check on what you need to know in advance.
  4. This one you already know: before you leave the house, verify that you have your wallet/purse/keys/school bag and so on. My last piece of advice is to look down and make sure your shoes match. Seriously, where do you think they got the idea that there are such things as absent minded professors? There are real life stories everywhere.
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