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That darn mouse in my locker

January 23rd, 2014

Not once in my life have I been a “roll with the punches” type of girl. You can even go as far as saying I fall into the opposite category. True, I don’t go all Britney Spears and shave my head when life doesn’t pan out, but you could say I’m a bit of an overly obsessive planner.

Fear not. This is nothing new. In grade school, I would map out how I would spend my recesses for the week. One day for four-square, one day for kickball, one day for jump rope, one day for pure gossip with friends, another to reenact scenes from “Harry Potter,” and so on. I think you get the idea.

I take pride in hiding my inner “freak out episodes,” carefully choosing to exhibit my “cool as a cucumber, no worries, man” persona in times of those extreme life crises. (For instance, fantasizing all day about filling up a plate full of fries at lunch so I can dip them in chocolate ice cream creating the perfect combination of sweet and salty, but then discovering to my dismay it’s actually chip day.)

However, if I’ve learned anything over these past three years at college, it’s that life isn’t designed for overly obsessive planners like myself. Life is full of the unexpected. The brown stuff can hit the fan. You might stumble upon a winning lottery ticket in the parking lot of Giant Eagle.

I like to affectionately classify these situations as “a mouse in the locker.”

Okay, I can already feel the strange looks I’m getting. Let me explain.

I was a bit of a nerd in high school. Alright, that may be an understatement. I was the definition of nerd. Think Amy Farrah Fowler from “The Big Bang Theory” nerdy.

Twice a week during my junior year, I would arrive at school an hour early for a non-credit, three-person Ancient Greek class. Yes, I signed up for Ancient Greek just for kicks and giggles. See, I told you: nerd.

One morning before class, I groggily made my daily trek to my locker in the empty hallway, opened it up and shoved my jacket on the top shelf. As I pushed it to the back of my locker, I felt something fall out. Before I knew it, this little something took the plunge towards my arm, landed on it, and due to my minimal caffeine intake that morning, I had a delayed reaction before realizing there was a mouse on my arm.

The next sequence of events was probably quite comical from a bystander’s perspective. I squealed such a high-pitch noise I’m pretty sure only dogs could hear it, and flailed my arm in the air, sending the creature flying through the hallway. Next thing I know, our French teacher came running out of his classroom with a trash can, and pranced down the hallway attempting to capture the rodent. He failed.

The rest of the day strayed away from my usual daily routine. Not only was I 30 minutes late to my Greek class because I had to report the mouse incident to administration, but my explanation of why I was late merited a skeptical look from my teacher. I’m pretty sure he didn’t take me seriously and thought it was a “my dog ate my homework” sort of excuse. This look of disapproval nearly killed the over-achieving perfectionist in me.

Later that morning, our principal personally cleaned out the mouse remainders from my locker, and I was banned from my old locker surrounded by my group of friends and sent into exile at the end of the hallway.

I caused such a ruckus that an exterminator was called, and an announcement was made that there was a mice infestation.

From then on, I was known as the “mouse chick.” I was legend.

As I walked into school that day, I entirely expected the day to carry on as usual. Never in a million years would I have anticipated looking down at my arm and seeing a mouse perched upon it.

The mouse foiled my plan. And it always will – figuratively.

There’s always going to be “mouse in the locker” situations. It’s an inevitable fact of life. I’ve come to terms that no matter how much I plan and devise back-up plan after back-up plan, there’s always going to be mice flying out of my locker. Sometimes, it’s pleasant surprises that land in my reach. Other times, it’s little rodents that send you into social banishment at the “uncool” part of the hallway.

It’s up to us to react to these situations with as much poise, grace and intelligence as possible. Sometimes, we only have one choice – pitch the daily planner, sit back, relax and enjoy the crazy ride of life. Remember to watch out for unexpected rodents.