Snow fell on the college campus. Exam week was almost over. Most of the students had already gone home to be with their families for the winter.
Linda, the history professor, walked towards her car. She was an elegant and respectable woman. She had recently been named chair of the history department, which was the highlight of her academic career. Guiding students had always been her passion in life.
A cold gust of wind blew and she shivered. On her way to the car, she saw a young female student sitting on the sidewalk wearing a sweater and jeans. The student was busy texting on a phone with her head down.
Linda took a few steps towards the student to get a better look at her face. It was unmistakable, the student was in Linda’s most recent American history course. Linda recognized the student from her long thin arms and legs, her brown hair, and her upturned adorable nose. She was a cute girl with a face people could remember. The student couldn’t have been older than 18 or 19, Linda estimated.
Linda was used to having over 100 students in a class, and most students simply became a face in the crowd which she couldn’t possibly remember. But there was something recognizable about the young woman. There was something special about her.
“You’re a student in my American history class, aren’t you?” Linda asked.
The young student stopped texting and looked up at the professor to smile.
“Yeah, I am.”
“What’s your name?”
The student stood up and extended a hand shake.
“I’m Rebecca. My friends call me Becky. It’s nice to finally talk to you in person, Professor.”
“You can call me Linda. We’re outside of class.”
“Sure. It’s so weird calling professors by their first names.”
Linda smiled at the girl’s politeness. “Did you just take a final exam?”
“I did,” Becky replied. “I took your history exam. It was a little harder than I expected, but I think I did okay.”
“You’ll be fine. So what are you still doing here, Becky? It’s freezing.”
“I’m klutzy sometimes,” Becky said playfully. “I got the dates mixed up when I booked my flight. I’m stuck here for a couple days and I was just texting my mom about it. I have to buy a new plane ticket soon.”
“I know what that’s like. We all make mistakes.”
“Well, my mistake is costing me a lot of money. Like I said, I’m an idiot.”
“If you were an idiot, you wouldn’t be attending this university,” Linda joked.
Becky nodded. “Good point, Professor. I mean, Linda.”
“Anyway, it was nice talking to you. It’s always good to see students outside of the classroom. I’m sure you did well on my exam.”
“Thanks. Enjoy the holidays.”
“You too. Bye.”
They politely shook hands again, smiled at each other, and Linda turned to walk towards the parking lot. After a few steps, Linda looked back at the student, who continued to text on the phone. There was an innocence about the student standing in the cold that Linda simply couldn’t ignore.
“Are you waiting for someone?” Linda asked. “It’s so cold out here.”
“I’m waiting for the bus, which apparently is going to take another 10 years to arrive.”
Linda thought for a moment. “Come on, I’ll give you a ride.”
“Oh, no, I can’t. I don’t want to bother you.”
“Where do you live?”
“In the apartment area, about 10 minutes that way,” Becky said, pointing down the main street.
“It’s no trouble. I’ll give you a ride. I insist.”
Becky smiled, put the phone in her pocket, and gladly followed the professor.
The drive to Becky’s apartment was silent at first. Linda had violated her own personal rule of getting too close to students outside of campus, but she couldn’t let the student sit in the freezing cold. It was unconscionable, so she made an exception.