Beware the unspoken laws of classroom etiquette

The lights were dim. The instructor’s voice seemed to become one with the calm drone of the old cooling system humming overhead.

I looked to my left and saw a guy staring aimlessly around the room and checking his cell phone periodically. I looked to my right and saw several other students with looks of pain and anguish, clinging to their only hope that the endless PowerPoint presentation would finally cease, and we’d all be released from our unfortunate confinement.

Suddenly the moment arrives, and the instructor asks, “Does anyone have any questions?” I gaze down at my cell phone and see that we have a chance of leaving 10 minutes early. A hush falls over the classroom, and everyone starts to pack their bags.

Well, almost everyone. Out of nowhere, a hand pops out of the crowd like a pimple infecting a woeful teenager, and the hurried hush suddenly turns to angry stares.

You see, that person just broke an unspoken law.

You don’t ask a question with fewer than 10 minutes remaining in a class. Everybody knows that. That individual’s impertinent question doesn’t help anyone and certainly doesn’t win over any friends. Even the instructor looked irritated.

Of course, these “laws” are not written anywhere, but people just know these rules-and usually follow them.

The last few weeks, I’ve had time to observe these special laws, so we’ll just see how many of them you know.

I’ll go back to the classroom.

Many unspoken laws begin right at the start of a semester. Like the seat you choose on the first week of class. You have the ability to change locations the first couple classes, but if you suddenly decide to switch later on in the semester, much pain and suffering will ensue.

Just think about it-everything gets thrown off. By changing seats, you took the one that Sara always sits in. She comes in and gives you a cold stare, and then plops down where Mark usually sits, way in the back of the class. Mark gets annoyed with Sara and decides to skip class since he won’t be in his normal spot, while Stan is angry because now he can’t sit behind Sara and check her out and find opportunities to make small talk with her.

Or think about the guy that comes into class five minutes early and whips out an old Tupperware container. Everybody stares at the clump of plastic in horror, as he slowly pulls off the lid and the smell of Mom’s special meatloaf broccoli casserole escapes and swiftly takes over the entire classroom.

That’s a definite violation.

There are even stranger laws. One, in fact, that I’d like to see changed.

For some reason, if a person passes gas in the classroom, no one is allowed to say anything about it. Rather than pin down the guilty culprit, everyone has to sit there and endure the appalling stench, pretending that nothing has even happened.

It’s already a semi-mentioned law not to pass gas in public, but why is it an unspoken law to act as if nothing has happened? So that person can just sit back and break wind to his or her own heart’s content while everyone suffers?

People should come together and determine who dealt it, and then expel the person from class until he or she can sufficiently prove no common air will subsequently be destroyed.

So now that I’ve talked about some of the thousands of unspoken laws, hopefully you’ll also notice them.

But for those of you who raise your hand at the last minute, change your seat in the middle of the semester, open nasty leftovers so everyone has to smell them or sit idly as you allow someone to make your eyes burn-don’t worry, I’ve got more to talk about next week.