My binder fell off the roof of my car on Saratoga Sunnyvale and you probably saw it

December 11, 2018 — by Anishi Patel

It was Friday, Nov. 16, and we were in the middle of the Unfortunate Smoke Week.

I’m not a very superstitious person, but something happened during fifth-period calculus that day that had me lying in bed thinking for the next couple nights.

We were learning about optimization and I was thoroughly confused. So, naturally, I zoned out and began thinking up creative get-out-of-class scenarios. Perhaps it was the Camp Fire situation or a smoke inhalation-induced thought, but one of the first scenarios that floated into my head was, “What would I do if a tiny fire popped up next to me?”

This got me thinking about what I’d sacrifice to extinguish this fire. Not my backpack, surely, because it was a new Herschel and I’d rather put out the hypothetical fire with my hands than use the backpack. Maybe my foot, but who was I kidding? My legs weren’t long enough to reach the spot I had chosen for my fire. That left my big, yellow red-day binder. It would have to go.

Little did I know.

I walked out of math that day holding my binder — one downside to Herschels is that they are a little small. To get my keys out of my backpack, I decided to put the binder on the roof.

Now, I’m not the best driver, but until that point I could safely say I’d never done anything downright stupid.

Besides, people leave stuff on their cars and accidentally drive away all the time — phones on the roof, drinks on the hood — no big deal, right?


This was my red day binder. Red days are my hard days, meaning the entirety of my junior year academic life was IN THAT BINDER.

I drove away with junior Connie Liang sitting in the passenger seat, neither of us realizing the dark spot clearly visible on the soft-top canvas roof of my car was a binder.

We heard the first muffled scratch as we exited the school parking lot. Something was definitely on the roof. I thought a squirrel had jumped onto the car from the trees near the McAfee. Connie later told me she had thought the sound was an injured bird. We simply exchanged a look and drove on, possible animals stranded on the roof be damned.

From Herriman we turned onto Saratoga Sunnyvale, and I’ll admit, my turn wasn’t as slow as it should have been.

The spot on the roof disappeared with a less-muffled scratch and reappeared as a flying yellow binder in the driver’s side window.

After I screamed, I made a U-turn that would have failed me my driver’s test, parked the car and ran out to the intersection with Connie, the binder had been run over multiple times and papers were strewn across the road.

Half a semester’s worth of calculus notes?

Painstakingly completed biology active readings?

Every English assignment to date?


And the binder itself … well, let’s just say I never knew binder rings could bend like that.

Shoutout to the two people who took mercy on a poor kid that day: the lady who parked her car in the middle of the street to help us collect papers and junior Charlie Wu, who was walking home and kindly stopped to join us in our real-life version of “Crossy Roads.”

After scurrying around on the street between traffic for about 10 minutes, Connie and I carried our armfuls of paper back to my car. We then realized we’d spent the entire time breathing in the smoky air.

Connie, IOU a pair of less-damaged lungs.

That weekend, I used half a Hi-Polymer eraser removing tire marks from my papers, and on the Monday school started again, I began to make the rounds. I couldn’t wait to see how my teachers would react: Did I beat their worst “My dog ate my homework” stories?

First was Mrs. Lenz’s AP Biology class, where she attempted to hold back laughter while helping me find new copies of my lost material.

In English, Mrs. Keys made sure everything I needed was accessible on Canvas. When I told her the story, a junior sitting next to Mrs. Keys’ desk overheard and apologized for possibly having run over my papers on Friday.

To the dozens of cars that must have driven over my binder: I forgive you! Sorry I couldn’t remember to get all my stuff inside the car before driving off.

The last stop was math, but I decided to wait and turn in a worksheet that had been run over: It was done, after all. I left a sticky note explaining what had happened and added a smiley face for good measure. The next class, I got my homework back with full credit and without a single comment. Mrs. Mantle hadn’t batted an eyelash, and to this day, I wonder what other homework horrors she has seen.

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