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Friday, April 12, 2024
The Observer

Regret: the story of Bob

This is the story of Bob.

Bob was a good engineering student at the University of Notre Dame. He went to most of his lecture classes, except for 8:20 physics. He did not have the energy to discuss potential energy at 8:20.

He felt slightly guilty about cutting class, but realized it made for great conversation starters with fellow engineers.

"You make it to the 8:20 today?"

"No. Did you?"


Friendships were made.

Bob liked the idea that he could get good, at least good enough, grades without going to class. He also liked that other people thought he was naturally smart enough to ace tests without going to lectures.

Bob liked that he wasn't considered a nerd anymore. He also liked sleeping until 10. It meant he could stay up until two in the morning playing videogames with his quadmates and still get eight hours of sleep. Yay college.

Sarcasm aside, Bob loved college. He understood why adults called it the best four years of their lives.

Bob didn't mind the lectures to which he did go. When he sauntered into class at 10:33, he felt cool. He dropped his bag with a thud. He didn't care about being late.

What he did care about was the latest activity on YikYak, so he pulled out his phone and scrolled through the newest posts for the next 10 minutes. Jokes about SMC chicks and Feve were worthy of his care, more worthy than the principles of statics the professor was going on about. He knew what statics were: the art of staying still. He had mastered this art during numerous Netflix binge watches.

Bob was satisfied with life. He was satisfied with himself. He had gotten the hang of college.

He had learned how to get through college without learning anything. He would purchase a piece of paper with his name and degree on it for $200,000. Would you like some knowledge with that? No, thank you.

Bob landed a job in fall of his senior year; as soon as he met his interviewer, he was golden — as golden as the dome. He shook the employer's hand firmly, letting him get a glimpse of his emerald class ring.

His navy blue portfolio and Brooks Brothers cufflinks said it all: he had his stuff together. He brought up the Blackhawks game at the end of the interview — how about that miracle shot in double overtime? He was in.

On his first day on the job, Bob got a tour of the office and a tutorial on the coffee maker (as if he didn't know how to work a simple machine). His boss had invented the coffee maker, so Bob listened intently (at least pretended to listen intently — that high school drama requirement was finally good for something) as his boss described the newest improvements: recyclable filters and LED-lit buttons.

His boss hit brew. The coffee brewed. The boss liked being obeyed.

The coffee maker served up a hazelnut concoction with the appropriate squirting sounds. Did Bob know they had copyrighted the coffee maker squirting sound?

Finally, it was time for Bob to begin work. His boss handed him the hazelnut concoction and a folder containing his first project.

Looking over the briefs, Bob wished he had paid more attention during the coffee-maker tutorial. Too bad he had forgotten how to pay attention.

He realized he didn’t know how a simple machine worked. He didn’t know how anything worked.

He wanted to re-watch his boss explaining the coffee machine but couldn’t find the rewind button when he was living in 3-D. He couldn’t find the tutorial notes or recording online anywhere.

He did what he always did in college when he didn’t know what to do: he pulled out his phone and scrolled through Facebook. Maybe one of his buddies had poured an ice bucket on his head recently.

He felt a cold chill above his head just thinking about dowsing himself in freezing water. Then he realized the chill was the cold breath of his supervisor, reading his newsfeed from behind his shoulder.

"How's the first day on the job, Bob?"

It was Bob’s last day on the job.

Bob wished he had paid attention in class in college and made the most of the education he'd paid for, but he couldn’t hit rewind or redo. Instead, he hit ‘regret.’

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.