“Sergey. Sergey Brin how many times do I have tell you to quit daydreaming, sit up, pay attention and participate in this class. Now, did you even hear my question?”
I didn’t particularly care for Ms. Yer and found her name appropriately matched to her mannerisms and style; namely, odd. English Literature was boring; daydreaming was a far more productive means to pass the 90 minutes to dismissal.
Retrieving the thick, brown-framed glasses from their descent halfway down my nose, I curtailed my algebraic doodling, straightened my slumped body and looked the stern-faced teacher in the eye.
“Well, no, Ms. Yer, I did not hear your question and you’re right I was not paying attention. I apologize.”
Though it had been more than a decade since immigrating to the United States, my Russian accent had not diminished. It and my curt response caught both teacher and classmates off guard. Suddenly the sound of pages turning and intermittent yawning ceased. I was surrounded in the silence of fellow students rousing to attention.
“Sergey, how do you ever think you’re going to succeed in life if you don’t pay attention now? You’re a senior for cry’n out loud – there’s not much time.”
My teacher was exasperated and I was her target. I suspect she was not so much irritated at my personal lack of regard for the course, but rather was frustrated at her failure to effectively infuse the students with passion for the subject before year’s end.
“Not much time for what? To learn? To live? I do have interest in classes like math, algebra, calculus. I just haven’t developed a taste for this one. And I don’t think I will succeed, Ms. Yer, I know I will. God has a big plan for my life.”
“You are quite arrogant, Mr. Brin, to think God has a personal plan just for you.”
The teacher huffed indignantly as she shook her head, loosening a chunk of graying hair to fall directly in front of her eyes. Even over the cacophony of muffled giggles, the proverbial pin could have been heard dropping.
“Mark my word, Mr. Brin; if you don’t apply yourself now, God Himself won’t be able to bring you success in the real world.”
Ms. Yer fiddled with the wad of hair until she was finally able to secure it into the knot a top her head.
“God says all things are possible with Him and I am with Him, Ms. Yer.”
Thinking back to those years at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, recalling Ms. Yer’s admonition to apply myself, I wondered if she would recognize God’s hand in my life now, despite not ever taking a liking to English Literature.
“If she could see me now,” I thought, taking a slow spin-of-delight in the high-back, plush leather chair which faced 180 degrees of glass. Lifting my feet off the floor, I twirled with the glee of a child, soaking in the stunning mountain and blue sky penthouse view. “Thank You, God.”
When my whirl wound to a halt I grabbed a piece of embossed stationery and penned a brief note to the nemesis instructor.
Dear Ms. Naysa Yer:
It has been some time since I sat in the front row of your 12th grade English Literature class. I do owe you an apology for not doing my best while under your tutelage, and I hope you will forgive me.
I never did acquire a taste for literature, but you did make a lasting impression on me. I was thinking of you today, recalling the incident when you forewarned that even God Himself would not make something of my life if I did not apply myself in the real world.
You will be glad to know that since graduating high school I have applied myself, particularly in the area of mathematics and algorithms, recently completing graduate studies at Stanford University. As a matter of fact, while at Stanford, it was a Godsend to meet my current colleague and business partner, Larry Page. Together, we created a technology that perhaps you’ve heard of; maybe you even use it (I hope so): Google.
With God all things really are possible, Ms. Yer, and I am forever His student.
Note: This is a fictional depiction of Sergey Brin and Larry Page co-founders of Google launched in 1996 with $100,000 seed money from the founder of Sun Microsystems. How do I know? I Googled it.
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