Turns Out Those School Nightmares Actually Come True

So, funny story…you know those school nightmares that pretty much everyone has? You show up naked, you can’t remember your locker combination, you’re taking a test on something you know nothing about or should know everything about but don’t, you can’t find your classroom or something along those lines? Well, that describes my first 45 minutes of grad school. (as illustrated by the amazing @toasterlicious)

I wasn’t naked, I was able to find my classroom, everyone even seemed pretty friendly. The class is in a computer lab, since later on in the semester we’ll be doing computer things. I was there about 10 minutes early and nonchalantly sat down to log on.

That’s when the nightmare started. I can’t remember my password. Nothing. Zilch. I had set it up, I know it had to make sense, but none of the ones I can think of are working. I double-check that I’m using my username (my husband is finishing his PhD work at the same school and I’ve logged onto their computers as him more often than I can count). Nope, definitely my username.

No password. Blank. Fuzzy nebulousness. My brain is screaming at the part that’s supposed to remember this. The part that’s supposed to remember this is hiding in a corner and crying and repeating “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” It’s going to be no good. I wonder if I’m asleep because this is too weird.

Ok, maybe we won’t need the computers today. I work on keeping my face neutral and not going into scared bunny mode.

I have my netbook, I open it and login before class starts. Try to reset my password online. Nothing. Why isn’t it working? I put in the required information—username, last 4 of my SSN, captcha….nothing. Try again. Try again. E-mail my husband to check on his pass so I can at least get onto the computer.

We start introductions. Spend at least 70% of my attention actively listening to people. Think that this is probably going to be a good class of students. Well, it’ll be a good class when I can login. Right now I feel like the dumbest person in the class and least likely to succeed. I’m going to fail. I can’t even remember a password.

ProfX e-mails back and I login to the computer. Internet is faster on it and I continue trying to reset the password.

Oh shit, he’s talking about the syllabus. The syllabus is on blackboard. I did not save the syllabus to either my netbook or my thumbdrive. Everyone else is pulling out a hardcopy or opening a file. Ok, just follow along with what he’s saying so I can remember it later. Type up a few notes. I can’t login to blackboard if I don’t have my password.

Finally, inspiration dawns. Wait a second! I don’t give colleges and universities my social unless I’m actually working for them. They don’t require it for applications. So the computing department must use a placeholder (I’ve tried leaving it blank—no joy). What would I use for a placeholder? 1234? 9999? 0000?

I decide to give 9999 a shot first.

MIRACLE! Success!!

I reset my password to something I can bloody well remember. My fingers rush to blackboard and download the syllabus to the thumbdrive I’ve got in the computer. I open it up.

Of course now we’re actually about to start on classwork…and that’s ok. Because I can access the computer, I can see the syllabus and now I can go to grad school. I like the teacher, I like the subject materials, and I like the girl I’m partnering with for the group project. My adrenaline level lowers dramatically but I feel it for hours.

(It probably wouldn’t have taken 45 minutes to figure out the password reset had I been able to focus on it, but I needed to use most of my attention listening to my classmates and the teacher. Trying to listen, not look completely freaked out, and try to solve my problem was a bit tougher.)


  1. Kylee Lane says:

    I giggled so much! Not at your misfortune, but I could FEEL the panic! Eeek! Wonderfully written and Jess illustrated perfectly! The passwords cracked me up.

    You guys made my morning ♥

  2. Lesley says:

    Awwwe! Great read; Kylee nailed it right on the head, I could feeeeeel the panic! Jessie did a super great job with the illustrations, too! The “lightbulb moment” sketch made me laugh out loud at work :) Congrats surviving your first day of grad school… it can only get easier from here, right? <3

  3. Joelle says:

    Pretty sure I need that t-shirt: OMG BOOKS

  4. Ruth says:

    @Kylee & Lesley Thanks! I had a lot of fun writing it and I was thrilled when Jess agreed to illustrate. I think she captured exactly how I felt.

    @Joelle I want it too. We need to talk Jess into making it.

  5. Robert Slaughter says:

    Nice little story. We’ve all had those moments, but its always good to hear one, especially with a happy ending.

    And props to Jess / @toasterlicious for the pictures, that really added to the blog.

  6. Revanche says:

    I remember watching you Tweet this, thinking: “she must be freaking out. Must be.”

    This is about what I imagined, made 1000x better with illustration. :)

    I third the need for the OMG BOOKS shirt.

  7. Aramis says:

    This reminded me so much of Osaka from Azumanga Daioh.

    In case you aren’t familiar with it, she’s sort of a space cadet and worries that she’s a space cadet so one day she spends a bunch of class time telling herself over and over to

    “Get it together. Get it together. Get it together.”

    to the point that she isn’t paying any attention to the class anymore (because she’s so focused on how she should really pay more attention to the class) so the teacher totally calls her out for goofing off. Ha ha.

  8. Eleni says:

    That’s funny, because the first time I had a class in the computer classroom in grad school, I didn’t know my username and password. And it was my second semester there! The catch was that I’d been using my university username and password the whole time, but these computers were specific to my department; the department had given me a username and default password, but I had never needed it–until now. Luckily my friend sitting next to me logged in for me that first class, and afterwards I was able to inquire about my account info.

    At least you solved your problem–I don’t think I would have thought to put in 9999 as filler. Sounds like you’ll be just fine in grad school :)

  9. Spring says:

    That’s hilarious! I’m sorry you had the freak-out at all, though.

  10. Terry says:

    This is so awesome! Thank you for sharing your pain with us. :) And I think you need to up date your avatar with one of these.

  11. Chronic Geek says:

    You poor girl! You powered through. hehe. Thanks for sharing it and the illustrations by Toasterlicious were awesome!

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