The Freeway Flyer Survival Kit You Didn’t Even Know You Needed


By Jenny Ortiz

Remember the high school locker and how convenient it was? Books and jackets were left behind and locked up tight. My locker, although messy, was notorious for having everything: an extra pair of sneakers, sweaters, blank notebooks, make up, and anything else a high school girl needs for the day.

Nowadays, I have three office areas and I haven’t even left a pencil behind. When I was teaching at one college, I not only left my teaching material in my desk, but I decorated my space. Pictures and posters were put up as a way to welcome my students into the little space I shared with five other adjuncts. I was always confident that there were notepads, chalk and an umbrella back in my office.

With three campuses, these things change. Being uncomfortable is a requirement for every Freeway Flyer. Either I’m traveling with three bags or one packed to max capacity. Leaving a textbook in the wrong office could mean a disastrous lecture.  My tote bag has become my high school locker. Heavy is an understatement. No matter how much I organize, my tote bag has become more of a burden than an ally in teaching.

Why can’t I leave anything in my office? Well, like I mentioned before everyday I’m somewhere different. I need my teaching materials not only for the class I”m teaching that day but I have to prep for the others too.

Another reason, is that as a Freeway Flyer offices often change and it’s a hassle to move from one space to the next. I, for one, hate having to pack up all my books and papers after every semester.

Also, I share my offices with more than ten other adjuncts. There is never filing cabinet space. Recently there were five us in a small cubicle room trying to prep for our classes.

With all this said, however, the seams of my bag are starting to bulge and my right arm has more muscle than my left. So I’ve come up with a survival kit that can be left at every campus; it’s not only small but convenient.

Can I borrow a pencil?

A pencil, a black pen (you can’t sign your time sheets in red, can you?), a piece of chalk, a legal pad and an dry eraser marker are essential but I can never find them in my bag as they fall to the bottom. I ended up carrying more than I need only because I’m too lazy to look for them.  Solution: I keep one of each tied in a rubber band in each of my kits. I no longer have to carry a notebook or writing material.

Can I get a copy of that?

Paper hurts! I love making copies and providing different readings to my students in order to explain my lecture. However, the original copies weigh down my bag. I’ve made three copies of all the readings I do in my classes and leave them in every campus, so I have them available to prep, regardless of which campus I’m on. Another great item to have is an inexpensive flash-drive that only has the readings for easy printing access, which can be left in the kit as well.

I’ve also learned that links are a lot lighter than paper. This semester I’ve started incorporating simple technology into my classes. Whether it’s a clip on you tube or news articles I throw up on the projector, I’ve cut the amount of items I carry. Another great reason for links is that I can send it to the students as soon as I finish the lesson, which means that I don’t have to lug thirty copies of a reading.

I’m Parched!

I carried my tea cup and assorted teas with me to every campus for the simple comfort of knowing I was prepared. Also, if I left my favorite mug in one campus, I couldn’t use it anywhere else. For a while, I lugged my thermos around, but now I leave a few teabags tucked into a few disposable coffee cups in my kit.

These three items are truly essential in every Freeway Flyers’ day.  Free from these three little items, I’m left with a much lighter bag and at the end of semester bringing it home is easy, if I want to bring it home.

Are there things you can’t live without as a Freeway Flyer that should be included in my lightweight survival kit? We may not have lockers anymore, but that doesn’t mean we have to be uncomfortable all the time!

About the Freeway Flyer: Jenny Ortiz is a quite serious 23 year old New Yorker, except when unicorns (specifically chubby unicorns) are involved. When she isn’t pleading with Kurt Sutter via Twitter to be her mentor, she is teaching at St. John’s University, Adelphi University, and LaGuardia Community College (see, quite serious). When she isn’t teaching, she’s hanging out with her friends showing off  earth and water bending skills (not serious, but super fun).  When she is alone and it’s raining, she likes to read Haruki Murakami, or listen to the Broken Bells and daydream.  If you want to be a fan, you can read Jenny’s work on,, Jersey Devil Press,, Eighty Percent Magazine and InkSpill Magazine…or you can follow her on Twitter:

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