The Lunchtime Crusade


Brian Shinkle

In a race against time, Andrew Shinkle ’22 embarks on a journey across his neighborhood.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

  10:50 A.M.

  My body shoots up off the sleek leather of my office chair, and frantically races to the closet. Hands trembling like San Andreas, I fumble around in the darkness for my running shoes. As I reach to untie my elastic shoelaces, I know what I must do.

  One day earlier… 

  The soft, calm droning of my ceiling fan permeates through my bedroom. My monochrome alarm clock, perched on my bookshelf in the corner of the room, reads 11:12 P.M. With droopy eyes, a blank iPad screen, and a dead brain, I slouch in my chair, deadlocked in a staring contest with my Precalculus homework. 

  But in this game, there can be no winner. Winning this one is going to be impossible–if I want to keep my grades afloat.

  Radians and angles and degrees and unit circles all float aimlessly through my brain. But no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to make sense of anything. The day’s lesson had been more than enough to throw my brain into disarray.

  Many classmates I spoke to shared similar experiences; what did all of these foreign terms and expressions mean? Although I was at a complete loss for words, the empty slate beckoned me forth to fulfill its destiny. After exhausting all of the comprehensible information I had available to me, the homework was sent off into the great beyond that is Google Classroom.

  Less than five minutes later, I lay motionless beneath the comfortable, cozy covers.

  Beep! Beep! Beep!

  8:00 A.M.

  My groggy eyes open with a start, as I wake to meet the day… as well as the endless Zoom meetings that come with it. Before long, I am reminded about my precarious Precalculus predicament, and it fills my mind with dread. However, the clock soon reads 8:30, and I dive head-first into the deep end of Zoom education.

  Around halfway through my morning, a diabolical plan enters my mind. Considering my current stance with mathematics, I’m obviously not in the right headspace to open up a solution. So I decide on a plan so risky, so downright daft that it breaks all of my self-composed rules for school survival.

  I will embark on a three-mile bike ride across my neighborhood, traversing the lofty peaks and deep valleys riddled throughout. There’s only one minor problem, though. Lunch only lasts 35 minutes, and I haven’t even thought of what I’m eating.

  10:50 A.M. comes and goes, and I dart downstairs, taking two steps at a time. I tear the garage door open, and lay eyes on my semigloss-finished road bike, adorned with my prized orange helmet. With the press of a button, the chain lift rumbles to life, and the great outdoors is slowly revealed in all its glory.

  Without missing a beat, I hop on my bike, and just like that, I’m off! My chains snap and click as I shift to the seventh gear, giving me speed down the lengthy stretch of asphalt road. Inside my chest, my heartbeat rapidly accelerates, forming an adrenaline edge only rivaled by a race.

  Only in this race, my opponent is Father Time.

  Seemingly every ten seconds, my attention diverts to my wrist, anxious yet eager to see the time. I’m now on the other side of the development, and it’s already 11:05. Where did all the time go? With a heightened sense of urgency, I kick my brain into a higher gear, and claw my way back home.

  Speeding down the final stretch of road and shooting up the driveway into the garage, a burst of dopamine rushes through into my brain as 11:15 hits. I scramble inside, and haphazardly assemble an amateur PB&J sandwich. It isn’t pretty, but it tastes great all the same.

  My tired, achy legs trudge up the endless stairs to the second floor, and I collapse onto the floor in bliss.

  Precalculus doesn’t seem so bad anymore, I think with a grin.