4 Important Skills That Lazy People Learn in High School
Through the tail end of August, kids across America have had to gleefully quit their summer jobs and sadly put away their bongs so they could go back to the living hell that is school. For those with GPAs so impossibly high that if it represented the magnitude of an earthquake it would have killed millions, perhaps this time of year is just another chance for them to shit excellence on everyone below them. For others -- me when I was in high school, for example -- it's another year of just barely skating by with a solid C average.
I was a high school slacker. We slackers want to be winners. We want to have monstrous GPAs. We want to be everything we know we can be ... it's all just so deeply unengaging. Nothing truly captures us, and probably won't for a while. We are the wanderers who will, hopefully, figure out our place in life some point down the line. The only thing we're good at is expertly executing the fine art of not getting caught doing nothing. And I do mean art. There's a wonderfully complex beauty to skirting academic responsibility, and let's examine that beauty by breaking down the subtleties involved in the time-honored tradition of ...
Sleeping in Class Without Getting Caught
Look, I get it: You're tired. You were up late last night doing absolutely nothing of importance whatsoever. You got home from school at some point in the previous day, and now you're only a few hours away from having to go back, and you can't recall a single fucking thing you did in between. I've been there. Sometimes the only way to catch up on sleep is to do it in class, or so goes the lie I would tell myself.
"If I do this for long enough, all of my nothing will loop back on itself and become something."
A good slacker knows they can't just fall asleep during a teacher's lecture like it counts as extra credit. Falling asleep requires subconsciously following a series of beautifully orchestrated steps that make sure the chances of getting caught are as close to zero as possible. This stock photo illustrates the position well:
You may see a student sleeping in class. I see an intricate set of independent actions working in concert to aid a student in her effort to sleep in class while giving the illusion of attention. The right arm has been raised a few inches by a stack of textbooks, thus lifting her right shoulder. As the left hand pushes her head to the right, the right shoulder is there to act as both a pillow for comfort and a kickstand to prevent her head from toppling onto the desk with an embarrassing thud. Her legs are apart, equally distributing her dead weight to keep her from falling. If her torso was leaned further forward, her legs would be crossed and tucked back beneath the seat to counterbalance the intensity of her slouch.
The technique of a future Hall of Famer.
But of course, the entire illusion would be rendered useless if not for her immaculate positioning behind another student. The girl in yellow has just enough slouch to be ducked behind the girl in red far enough to become an outline of an attentive teen when seen from the teacher's point of view. As long as the girl in yellow doesn't snore or have a dream where she's falling and suddenly jolt awake in an embarrassing panic, by the end of class she'll have cultivated enough energy to walk to her next class so she can fall asleep there, too.
The foundation of many slacker techniques stems from seat positioning, so all the best slackers always know how to ...
Find a Classroom Seat That Optimizes Slacking
The true secret to slacking off is anonymity, being able to get lost in a sea of faces and bodies, and thus being left to your own devices. Uncreative slackers who aren't committed to the art think they'll go unseen if they sit in the back of the class. Ha! Those fools. Sitting in the back has become a grandiose gesture of not giving a shit. It's a bold declaration that says you've mentally checked out before anything even began, and teachers know it. Getting lost somewhere in the middle of the class is quieter; it draws less attention. It's like an Assassin's Creed game: After you kill a guy, you can run away and draw the attention of every guard you pass, or you can blend in with throngs of citizens and escape unseen.
Assassin's Creed: Like a history class taught by Alex Jones.
There's a mathematical brilliance to choosing a classroom seat that will ensure a long school year of generally being left alone. Let's look at it through a classic classroom configuration, where the teacher is in front of the chalkboard and the students are amassed in rows facing the teacher.
What do you think is the best seat for slacking in the picture above?
Nope. You're all wrong. It's the third seat in the middle row. No, not the girl in black propping her head with her hand. In that picture there's someone between her and the guy in the red long-sleeve shirt. Look at this ninja's baby blue elbows.
Ah-ha! You can't hide from me, classroom ninja!
Hidden in plain sight is a person in the middle of the class, ducked behind a tall, broad-shouldered person. That's a stock photo, but that kid's natural instinct to go unnoticed kicked in when he entered the classroom and camouflaged himself as a hazy, half-remembered dream from long ago that you can't quite grasp the detail of. He only exists in the corner of your eye, and there is nothing when you turn to look. He is a phantasm of another life, only flickering into existence when candles are lit and words of the elder ones are chanted. That kid's sneak skill tree must be nuts.
With great coverage, any student can dissolve into vapor and become a phantom that exists in a state of both there and not there simultaneously. But sometimes, a high school slacker doesn't want to be there at all. That's why someone skilled in the art of the slack must ...
Master the Complex Art of Cutting Class
The similarities between skipping class and breaking out of a maximum security prison full of murderers and rapists are shocking. Both have roughly the same degree of planning and on-the-spot improvisation. To be executed well, both need a certain degree of knowledge on how the building and its workers function day to day. Planning routes, establishing meeting points, learning security guard schedules, obtaining documents that excuse an absence, knowing the right people who can get you into safe havens -- it's Ocean's Eleven with acne and uncontrollable boners.
And none of the handsomeness.
I didn't cut class much in high school, and when I did, I felt like an asshole, like I had crossed a line. That being said, my friends and I were goddamn great at it. I assume that's the same internal conflict a career criminal must feel during quiet, contemplative moments while wearing a Nixon mask in a van on the way to a bank robbery.
My friends and I used to wander around campus with fake orders from a frazzled, overworked teacher. She would routinely ask us to complete errands for her around school, so if we ever wanted a period or two off, we told people we were doing something for her. The much more convenient option was to simply walk out of her classroom through a door that led directly to the outside -- a door put there by a designer who couldn't imagine a reason kids wouldn't want to be in school. It's the stupidest door I've ever seen, and I've seen so many doors, man.
For some friends who went to another high school, the prison escape analogy I mentioned above was extremely fitting, as their school was designed more like something out of an episode of Prison Break than Degrassi Senior High. If they wanted to cut class, they had to scale a tall fence that was patrolled by school security guards. If they made it past the fence, they were greeted with a 100-yard open field that separated them from freedom. The fences might as well have had sniper towers.
Some kids apply more effort into getting out of class than they ever put in when they're in class. But that's all right, because there's also an art to counterbalancing a slacker reputation ...
Display Your Plumage Every Once in a While
To their teachers, they're going nowhere, but in the slacker's mind, they're sitting in an idled car, waiting for a reason to slam on the gas and blow past everyone else in their graduating class with a middle finger held high and piles of money billowing out of the backseat. Not applying yourself in school can carry a mostly deserved stigma that only the Van Goghs and Michelangelos of slackerdom know how to counteract: They know how to occasionally blow minds with a display of fully tapped potential no one knew they had in them.
My high school years were mostly spent directionless. I wandered mindlessly from one class to another, not giving too much of a shit if I failed or passed with flying colors. It wasn't until an English class in my senior year that my life began to point in a discernible direction. My English teacher taught us about comedy and satire for nearly an entire semester. I was rolling in every lesson, every reading assignment, and every writing assignment like a pig in the highest quality shit.
Finally, I had found my calling.
Later that year, we had to adapt a story we had all read throughout our years of schooling into a movie. My group and I adapted Beowulf. I was the writer, director, and reluctant star of the picture. The film was a huge success among my classmates. Kids would cut class just to watch a video that I now consider to be a complete piece of shit. But that class was when, for the first time in my years of schooling, I started to shine. Suddenly, people (myself included) became aware that there was something I could do. I realized it late into my educational career, but early enough in life to do something with it.
Slack on, brothers and sisters. Slack on in every aspect of your life, except one -- work your ass off trying to find that one thing that engages you, that one thing that ensnares your attention. It's out there, but you'll never find it if you apply the same apathy to its discovery as you do to literally everything else in your life.
For more from Luis, check out 5 Pop Culture Classics That Almost Had Truly Terrible Titles and The 4 Most Baffling Driving Behaviors Everyone Encounters.