Picture Window

At Cypress Community College in eastern Texas there were
many non-traditional students: older students, some with
children in tow. One woman with a damp outgrown pixie
haircut, plopped herself into a chair with relief when I asked if
I could help.

"Yes, Mam. I'm in the certificate program and I need to take
English Comp. I, but I have to fit it into this schedule," she slid
the yellow sheet across the table.

I looked at her schedule. It was a solid block with an opening at
9:30 in the morning and another at 2:30 in the afternoon. I
knew early classes were closed; I turned to look at the screen
listing the filled sections. "There is a 2:30 class that is still open,
section seven."

"What time does it get out?"


"I cain't take that, Mam. My husband wants me home when
him and the kids are there. He don't like me goin' to school
anyways." Her look told me she knew how that sounded.

She knew that I knew she had outgrown her marriage. She
knew that I knew she was tired of squeezing tuition from the
food budget, tired of hiding her textbooks and studying when he
wasn't around and tired of forcing herself into a mold that no
longer fit. She worked and waited for her LPN certificate.

I looked at the other class offerings, "How about Speech 1301,
at 9:30? It's a required class." I knew that mothers' didn't take
any but required courses.

"OK, Mam." I initialed the yellow sheet and slid it across the
table. She didn't need to read Flannery O'Connor, Alice
Walker or Toni Morrison, she'd learned her lessons. "Thank
you, Mam."

"Good Luck," felt inadequate.


                                                                         Susan Sampson