There aren’t a lot of opportunities in life for a person to admit that they shouldn’t have done the right thing. I imagine that the guy who got sued for breaking a woma’s ribs when he did CPR regrets saving the woman’s life. Or a more recent article I read where a guy pulled a pair of people from a wrecked car and they were accusing him of aggravating their injuries. I wish I’d saved someone’s life in my instance, but no. I dropped out of school.
Dropping out of school might not seem like the right thing to do, but it was. The alternative would have been to remain enrolled, fail all my classes (because I was leaving school), and let the government foot the bill (I was getting Pell Grants to pay for everything). But I have always been a responsible person. So I looked at the paperwork and talked to my advisor. And I made sure that when I dropped, it would be soon enough to get a full refund. But I was wrong. The paperwork that I thought said I’d get a full refund if I dropped by February 28, really said January 28. Dropping on February 28 meant no refund. So, I dropped all my classes, my financial aid money was sent back and now, 4 years later, I have recently learned that I now owe that school $1500 in tuition. For classes I didn’t get to finish. For the worst 6 months of my life. For an absolute nightmare that when I think about it now, it still makes me cry. I did not leave school by choice. And the decision of whether or not to go back is now further complicated by this money that I didn’t realize I owed. Why they waited 4 years to tell me I owed them tuition money, I have no idea. But apparently, they just wait for people to re-enroll to give them that bad news. And when I didn’t re-enroll in 4 years, they sent it to collections. I was understandably upset to receive communications stating that a debt I didn’t even know about was in collections. We’ve been trying very hard to clean up our credit so that we can move across the country and, hopefully in the near future, buy a house. Some new thing bringing my score down was pretty uncool. So I protested it. And even when I got the paperwork with them, I still thought, “Ha! Look. Drop by the 28th and 100% refund.” It wasn’t until I sat down to write them back, using their provided paperwork as proof that I realized my mistake.
And now I wish I hadn’t done the right thing. I wish I hadn’t been responsible and dropped my classes. I wish I had let the government foot the bill for classes I had no intention of completing. I wish I had taken the hit to my GPA that a semester of Fs would have given me. Because I don’t know if you’ve heard about the economy lately, but it kind of sucks. And $1500 is a lot of money to suddenly owe. Especially at a time when I’ve been working so hard to get all the other debts we owe paid off. Babies are expensive little suckers, even with insurance (though, according to my mother if I’d been on welfare and had a state medical card, I would have gotten through it for $50 instead of the several thousand we still owe after insurance). And that’s not even getting into my husband’s back injury. Or wrist injury. Or the computer that we could afford the payments on when we bought it, then couldn’t afford when he missed work due to a different wrist injury (it’s a pesky thing, even after surgery).
So, aside from all the whining about money (which, honestly, I haven’t really done online or off in a while), this whole mess just got me thinking. Everyone wants to do the right thing, don’t they? Because it’s right. But how many times does doing the right thing bite us in the butt? How many people are out there wishing they hadn’t dropped their classes instead of just letting them go? How many people are wishing they hadn’t called that person whose wallet they found? Or are maybe wishing they’d pocketed the hundred bucks and told the person it was already gone when they found it? And how many people are out there, living the life every day, because they long ago said “Screw the right thing, I’m taking care of me and only me?”
I know life isn’t fair, but doesn’t that just get to everybody once in a while? I can’t imagine going through life without occasionally thinking about something like this and just thinking, man, life is twisted and sick. And yet, somehow, I still love it. Go figure.