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Cramming for Finals

by Phyllis Bohanis

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]This joke came across the internet:

A student asked the pastor after Sunday service why the church was mostly filled with old people?

The pastor replied, “Because they’re cramming for finals.”

The humour wasn’t lost on me, neither was the irony.

From a young age when Mom tells us to have our room cleaned by noon or else — until our last university exam when we pull all-nighters, it’s stress and cram. At the age of twenty-two, the stress has probably already knocked three years off our expected life spans.

Then comes the job market and deadlines for applications. Holy crap, why do they need three references? Who can I ask? Would Mr. Boss from the Supermarket still be up? I think I did a great job of stocking shelves for three years during high school. What about Coach? He could give a reference. Wonder if they’ll check my grade scores or will it be enough that I graduated? Maybe I can mention I’m planning on upgrading my computer skills. It would mean two nights a week at the college but would look good on my résumé. Oh, man. Stress and cram, stress and cram.

Sales quotas, expense accounts, time sheets. Every year more pressure. More stress. Cramming before year end. Cramming before budget time. Cramming before Ms. Big Client’s year end. Cell phone never stops buzzing. Stress and cram, stress and cram.

Retirement is looming. RRSP’s or pay down the mortgage? Maybe just one more year of working. An extra weekend here or there should do it. If not Freedom 55, maybe Retirement 75. Ahh, just a few more Sundays in the office.

Finally every day is Saturday. Wait a minute. What’s that, Doc? My blood pressure is up? My cholesterol is high? Hip replacement? Take it easy, you say. Why would I be stressed? I’m retired. I’m not stressed I tell you. Oh, man, did I take my yellow pill this morning? What do you mean I need to take a driving test? My hearing is as good as it ever was, if everyone would just quit mumbling. Blood test? Eye test? Colonoscopy?

Where did the time go? Maybe I should think about making friends with The Man upstairs. There’s a church a couple blocks over that I used to attend when I had time. I understand it has a nice pastor that delivers good homilies. At my age you just never know. Two friends passed in the last year. One had never been to church a day in his life. Hmmm. Wouldn’t want to be in his shoes. When I go, I hope the good Lord will recognize who’s coming down that road. Better make sure of it. Wonder if you get brownie points for going to service during the week? Poor old Mrs. Seaman has been suffering from Alzheimer’s for a few years. I suppose I should say a few for her too since she doesn’t remember to anymore. So glad I offered to take care of the flower gardens around the church. It gets me out into the fresh air and gives me a destination for a walk a couple times a week. Maybe I should add a little extra to the collection plate while I can.

Cramming for finals? You betcha. You never know when you’re going to be called for that final big one.


When I saw this joke a while ago, it set me to thinking about… well, cramming for finals. I didn’t have time to dwell on it then and tucked it away in my file for future stories. I came across it again recently and wrote my thoughts down. Where had the time gone? Why do so many of us procrastinate then have to cram — for everything? I was glad I had at least taken the time then to make note of the joke. In time for me to still cram for my finals.

Phyllis Bohonis
Author – Romantic Suspense Novels, Short Stories
Children’s Puppet Plays
Available for Writing Services, Speaking Engagements

“Life is a Highway”
Tom Cochrane