The Right Combination

Madeleine Nasch ’20

Left 48, right 10, left 40. Or is it right 40, left 10, then right 48?

I turned the notch on my student mailbox exactly as the instructions in the St. Lawrence portal said, but after four tries, the lock still wouldn’t budge. Students ran up and down the winding staircase of the Sullivan Student Center, and the roar of the lunchtime crowd at the Pub was growing louder and louder. I was starting to get anxious. The kind of anxiety when a cashier is already helping the next customer, and you’re not finished putting your change in your wallet. You can imagine how rushed and flustered I felt as I fumbled with the latch.

After crouching down to reach the dial on the bottom row of the mailboxes for what felt like an hour, I finally gave in and plopped down cross-legged. At least my view of the microscopic white numbers seemed a little better from this angle. But it felt like every St. Lawrence student was staring at me while I looked hopelessly at my phone for the directions. 

While other students came and went, successfully getting their combinations to work, my hands were sweaty, and my skin was beginning to feel hot and prickly underneath my hoody. I looked out into a sea of students waiting in line to get their packages and saw a familiar face.
I took a deep breath and asked the girl whom I recognized from my First-Year Program orientation if she could help me open my mailbox. As embarrassed as I was for not being able to open it on my own, I knew that asking for help was my only option. 

With both of us now fiddling with my mailbox, the dial froze for a second, and with a quick tug, it finally opened. Our failed attempts to open my mailbox together created a connection that we still share today. My friendship with Emma Mellman '20 is rooted in kindness, and, as I found out over the next four years, Emma's enthusiasm to help me was not an unusual trait among St. Lawrence students. 

Three-and-a-half years later,  I have finally mastered the combination to my mailbox. 

Now, as a senior at St. Lawrence, when I notice others having trouble with their own mailboxes, I offer a helping hand because I know that asking for help can sometimes be half the battle.