Coppell Observer: Zoom: where reality is a multi-faceted master of mischief


Akhila Gunturu

Since the start of the school year, many virtual students have had trouble adjusting to new learning environments. The Sidekick’s CHS9 editor Akhila Gunturu recounts some of her most embarrassing Zoom experiences all rolled into one episode.

Akhila Gunturu, CHS9 Editor

Coppell Observer is a humorous column about life as a teenager. Please be warned that any and all sass is due to the writers’ similar situation as adolescents (even though we feel so much older). You, the reader, should not take any of these words to heart. Seriously. If this article makes you laugh, leave a comment.

The nightmare begins with me running up the stairs while balancing a plate of Italian flavored cream cheese toast, a cup of matcha tea, a water bottle and a bowl of blueberries. I barely make it to the last step, after which I dive into my room, managing to safely place my plethora of food on my desk, before glancing at the clock. 

8:45 a.m.

I allow myself a 15-second grace period to breathe before I take a look around my room. Blinds open? Check. Lights and lamp on? Check. Sweater, because not only is my room a cave with horrible lighting, but a freezing cave with horrible lighting? Check. 

All is well as I slide into my seat, propping open my laptop. I check my reflection in my phone and try to clamp down on the horror that comes from witnessing dark circles so prominent they look radioactive. It’s OK. The Zoom camera only catches so much. 

8:47 a.m. 

I make the foolish decision to inhale while biting into my toast. The first few seconds are blissfully deceptive, cream cheese with the kick of garlic reinvigorating me and bringing me peace, until some of the seasoning decides to take a jolly stroll into my nose. I proceed to hack, cough and wheeze like my neighbor’s lawn mower until I can finally breathe again. 

8:50 a.m. 

Near-death experience over, I click on the Zoom link for first period, blinking rapidly to hide my streaming eyes. All I have to do now is wait to be let into the call from the waiting room, so I treat myself to another bite of toast, taking care to not inhale and chew slowly. 

The Zoom call opens and I slam my plate back on to the table, smiling deceivingly at everyone in the gallery view. Class begins with a normal “How was your weekend?” and “Anybody do anything fun?” I think for a good second – biting my toast and covering my mouth because manners, people, manners – and realize that I did not do anything fun, because I am a 16-year-old stuck in the middle of a pandemic and fun is an ambiguous word with a decreasing amount of viable definitions. And so the awkward Zoom silence follows, where all 20 something faces stare back at our poor teacher, who laughs it off with an admirable amount of grace and moves on. 

The first 10 minutes go smoothly enough, and I deem it safe to eat my toast in less subtle bites. Then my eyes travel to the bottom corner of my screen, where I see that the little microphone icon does not have a slash over it. 

Have you ever felt so mortally embarrassed that you wanted to shrivel into a ball and evaporate? Well, this is worse, because I was absolutely pigging out unmuted so the entire class could hear me chewing, swallowing and occasionally choking on my toast. Nothing compares to the involuntary reaction your body emits after a realization like that- my ears burned, my stomach churned and I lurched forward to mute myself so I could let out a squawk of agony that nobody would have to hear. 

At this point, I am convinced that nothing else could go wrong on this Zoom call; I have already experienced shame at its finest. But once again, I stand corrected as my teacher asks a question, and I, being the model student that actually listens and does not scroll through TikTok during class, unmute to answer. As I begin my response, I hear a wave of feedback and another voice, and ah yes, my ears are turning red again, because a classmate and I have spoken at the same time. 

There are two options for what happens next. Either one of us, in the midst of the hurried “Oh, I’m so sorry” and “You go first” exchange, backs down and unmutes, or, in the middle of our apology session, someone’s audio spasms, and the sound that follows is akin to Darth Vader screaming. To be frank, I highly prefer the first option, but as you may have realized by now, the universe has a personal vendetta against me. So, my voice morphs into a horrible, agonizing and amplified low-pitch version of itself, and I meekly mutter an apology. I mute myself and shrink into my chair, sincerely considering leaving the call altogether to avoid further shame. But before I can do that-

Beep. Beep. Beep. 

Sunlight streams through my window as I sit up, hair a certified mess, eyes bleary. I fumble for my glasses and fix my eyes on the clock across from me. 

7:30 a.m. 

7:30 a.m. means a good hour and 20 minutes until school, so I have enough time to get ready, eat and maybe even watch some TV. But then, the realization creeps up on me that in an hour and 20 minutes, my nightmare has a very likely chance of fusing with reality. 


Follow Akhila (@akhila_gunturu) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.