How to Survive Being Caught in a Runaround


I am currently taking some online classes at the local college (because having a family, working a day job, a night job, and building a writing and speaking career wasn’t enough, I guess). These online classes require 1 campus event each semester. The campus event for one of my classes was last night, a simple mid-term exam.

The day before the exam, I emailed the professor to ask if there was anything I needed to bring. He responded, “Just your student ID”. Since this is my first semester and I’m an online student, I’ve never had a student ID printed. This college has several campuses in the area. I call the one closest to me, which of course, is not the one I’ll be taking the test at, to see if they could print one during my lunch break.

Their machine is broken. I call the campus that I’m taking the test at that evening. I’m told where to go and to knock on the door when I get there. The following steps occur:

  • Arrive at the security office at 4:30. It’s closed. There is a sign on the door that all students need a copy of their schedule before an ID can be printed.
  • I ask the cashier in the book store, “Where is the library?” I thank her for her help.
  • Find the library and ask the librarian how to log on to the computers. The librarian is very helpful.
  • I find out my password has expired and needs to be reset.
  • I log into the computer and Windows begins to custom create my desktop experience
  • I finally get logged in and print out a schedule.
  • I thank the librarian for her help and leave.
  • I head back to the closed office and call the number on the door.
  • They send a very helpful lady to make my ID.
  • She never checks my schedule.
  • She prints my ID and I thank her for the help.
  • The officer I spoke with on the phone calls me back to check on me. I thank her for helping me.
  • I’m now an hour early for my test.
  • At test time the professor comes in and gives the test.
  • I make a B
  • He never checks my ID


The whole ID process becomes a waste of time. The effort, the stress, and the inconvenience ended up not being necessary. I was proud of myself for not getting upset. I kept my cool. This does not always happen. My father once compared me to Barney Fife when I get upset.

Barney Fife. Known for losing his cool.

Barney Fife. Known for losing his cool.

I have to consciously work on this and these are the steps that I follow when I’m successful at handling a runaround situation

  1. Realize I’m not in control. – During this entire process, I was not in control of staffing, procedures, traffic, weather, or other people’s mood. I first have to accept, I’m a rider on this train, and not the conductor. Therefore, this exercise’s success or failure does not reflect on me.
  2. Control my attitude, and be friendly – I also made effort to keep my attitude positive. Each time I interacted with someone during the process I smiled. Even when I was speaking to the campus security on the telephone, I smiled. When I was asking questions and explaining my plight to the woman who printed my ID, the young cashier at the bookstore, and the helpful librarian, I made eye contact and smiled.
  3. Be thankful – During that whole process, I thanked everyone that helped me. It would have been very easy to voice my frustrations to everyone. But these people were not the cause of it. They were simply trying to help me get what I needed. In the spirit of giving, make sure you give thanks.

Things are going to happen. Run-arounds are a test of your character, do your best not to fail the test.


What is your most memorable runaround story?

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