He dropped his pen onto the small square wooden desk and sighed; happy that the exam was finally over. It had been a long one, one hundred and fifty minutes of writing and analysing but he felt it had gone well. Already, he was dismissing thoughts of it from his mind as he disliked talking or even thinking about his results until they were given to him on that pale green piece of paper. That day was three months away.
Finally, the invigilator allowed his row to leave and he winked at his still seated friend as he walked down the aisle, feeling sorry for the fact his friend still had another exam to do that day and would be held like a prisoner in the hall until then.
He walked over to where he had left his jacket and stopped. Blinking in surprise and disbelief as he realised it was no longer there. Sudden thoughts attacked his mind as he looked around frantically for it. Someone must have taken it as he had left his phone its pocket. How had they known? He was sure he had left it on the green mats but now it was nowhere to be seen.
Bewildered, he asked his friend if he had seen anything but the answer was a shake of the head. His heart began to beat faster. He should have known not to leave his jacket at the back. He had thought he was being smart as it meant he would not have to wait at the end of the exam to retrieve his phone from the invigilators. It had worked yesterday but today, reality had struck him like a piece of ice down his back.
He reported the theft to the invigilator and slowly walked out the sports hall in a daze. Overwhelmed, he asked the reception if any property had been reported in but there was nothing. He suggested they look on the security cameras but they simply said to come back in the afternoon and ask again. It was already 12:15.
For a while, he circumambulated the canteen and the library, all the while knowing it was hopeless to think he would spot his jacket being carried by someone. It was not even his own phone. His brother had given it to him and even though it was a hand me down approaching the last months of its life, there was a lot of data stored on it. They would tease him again he thought. Another phone gone, they’d jeer. He had a terrible history with phones but this time he was angry at himself. He had made a stupid mistake.
Desperate, he wandered back to the sports hall, hoping that it had turned up. He smiled and nodded at the exam officer Neo who was leaving the hall. The benches and mats were still bare and his jacket was nowhere to be seen. Dismayed, he walked out again, it had begun to rain and his mood darkened further as the rain splattered on the thin material of his top.
He borrowed a friend’s phone and called his mobile. It rang. This increased the confusion as it suggested that the phone had not been stolen. He remembered that the welcome screen on his phone displayed his email address so he checked his inbox on a library computer. No luck.
His stomach grumbled, reminding him that he had only drank a mug of coffee in the morning. That was over four hours ago but he could not go home without his jacket and phone. A passing friend asked how his exam had gone but his response was sullen as he described how his jacket was missing. Concerned, she wished him luck as he walked away, knowing it was unlikely he will ever see his belongings again.
Near the entrance, he met another friend and they discussed how the jacket could have been taken. It could have been any person out of two hundred students so the possibilities were endless. He complained bitterly about how security at the reception were unwilling to look at the cameras for him and his friend agreed, describing how useless they were and wondering about what they are being payed to do. As they talked, the conversation shifted as he resigned himself to the fact that there was nothing left to do.
Then, the friend he had met earlier walked past and seeing his distressed face, became determined to help. The three marched over to the reception, demanding assistance but their attempts were rebuffed and they were told to go to Neo’s office. As if he would know anything about it. He would only send them back to security. It didn’t matter, they would continue to ask them to check the cameras until they finally gave in.
Like a gang of soldiers, they marched to the exam officer’s office, ready for battle. The door was open and his heart leapt. Impossibly, his jacket was nestling on the desk! “My jacket!” He said in amazement, without even greeting the Neo. Why was it here? What had happened? Had someone handed it in?
Neo smiled and handed the jacket over before proceeding to explain the situation. His phone had rung in the exam despite being on silent. It was his normal Tuesday morning alarm that he had forgotten to turn off. Neo had been worried that it would continue to sound and so had removed it from the sports hall.
He felt stupid now. He shouldn’t have left his phone in his jacket. He shouldn’t have left it on. He shouldn’t have just smiled at Neo, he should have asked! All of that drama for nothing but at the end of the day, he was thankful. Sheepishly, he thanked his friends for their help and walked home, shaking his head at his own stupidity.
That was me today.