By Lyba Mansoor
Marc Hay was having a terrible Wednesday morning. Frantically scrolling through Ryerson’s website on his phone looking for information on dropping out of the semester, he did his best to hold back the tears. Hay had arrived to his three-hour lecture five seconds late and knew his options were growing limited with each second that ticked by.
Hay cursed himself, repeatedly pacing back and forth inside a hallway in the Ted Rogers School of Management building. He wasn’t sure he could bear the burn of the disapproving glares from his professor and fellow peers if he walked into class now, and dreaded the awkward shuffle of trying to move quickly and quietly to the closest open seat. Forced to decide between suffering the ominous late-walk-of-shame into the lecture room or skipping the class altogether, he remained frozen outside of his classroom door, torn between humiliation and fear of the unknown.
Was the credit really worth it? For a brief moment, he considered summer school. He sighed in utter bereavement of his circumstances. Despite the cold weather outside, he managed to break a sweat.
“I really thought I’d be able to make it on time today. Now I feel like I’m stuck,” he cried. “And it’s not like I have loads of time. The clock is ticking, I’m getting later and later each second I hesitate and I just know Professor Whatshername isn’t going to put this shit online.”
The third-year nursing student admitted this isn’t his first dance with on-the-spot decision making like this. Despite it only being January, this was his third time being late to a class this semester alone.
“I once heard a story about my friend’s cousin’s ex-boyfriend’s brother John who showed up five minutes late to class and was forced to sit on his head in the front row for the remaining two hours and 55 minutes.”
Hay said he’s tried almost every trick in the book to avoid having to make a decision like this.
“Sometimes I try to find side or back doors, or if I’m feeling a little shy, air vents that lead to the classroom so that I can just slip through undetected,” he said.
For most students, it’s pointless to arrive anywhere between 30 seconds and five minutes late, Hay explained.
“Two minutes late to a lecture is bold, but six minutes or more creates a huge gray space that none of us really know what to do with. Do you raise your hand and ask what you missed? And what if I wanted Tim Hortons? There are too many options and none of them are gonna give me an A in this course.”
When asked if Hay has ever tried leaving his home a few minutes earlier than usual to avoid being late, he scoffed.
“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” he said, still nervously laughing outside of the class he was late for.
After about 60 more minutes of intense deliberation, several of his classmates—and even at one point his professor—walked in and out of the lecture room. An hour and one minute into his would-be course, Hay decided, “fuck it” and resigned to head home.
“It’s not even the lateness that would bother me, it’s that my professor would notice, and be really, really disappointed in me. It’ll be easier to just drop the class.”