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Last One Out
Under that night sky, I could vaguely see the outside through a window that is blocked by myriads of metallic pieces. I have not the slightest idea of time or time passing by. All I knew was that it was dark outside, dark as in if you would put your finger in front of you, you would not be able to tell apart from your different fingers.
I was not the kind of person who usually stays out this late, perhaps I was over-cautious with breaking curfew. Most of the time I preferred to spend my Friday night inside my dorm waiting to check in at eleven o’clock. However, tonight was not like the others; instead, I was in the only robotics lab on campus.
George, my mentor who was only a junior, coughed to attract my attention. He tried to make the cough sound natural, but it was still easy to tell that it was not. I put down the C-channels in my hands and looked up. George was still looking at his computer, probably a YouTube video or something, but he turned so his screen wasn’t facing me. “Grabbing a fish”, that’s what Chinese people call those who don’t do their work.
“Do you know what time it is?” George asked without looking at me, trying to cover his guilty conscience. “It’s not…” Without me even finishing, George interrupted me: “Oh! It’s already that late? Sorry, but I have to go.” With that, he ran out the door like I was something terrifying.
Well, now that George left as well, I was the only person in that lab. It made sense, because who would be out working this late on a Friday night. Except for me, I was the last one out in this world, the last person under the night sky in this room full of metal sheets, screws, nuts, and a metallic monster.
It was already January, not much time left until the competition begins – only about two weeks to be exact. Our robot was still not ready yet. To be honest, it was nowhere close to ready. We did have four wheels and an arm functioning, but that was basically it. From time to time, a screw or two would fall off and it was impossible to find where they came from.
This project started last September when a group of ambitious young men came together to build a robot to attend the VEX Robotics Competition. The team worked well and dreamed well together at first; however, progress started to slow down. January seemed to be so far away.
But not anymore.
Now that it is just me in the lab without the rest of the team, I must figure something out. I kept telling myself that I can’t give up yet, that we still have a chance to finish this robot before the competition.
However, I just couldn’t put away the looks on my teammates’ faces in my mind. The disappointment, the defeat.
I tried to tell them that we were still in this together as long as we kept putting in our best effort, but none of them listened. They already admitted defeat, and why sacrifice more for something that was already doomed?
My hands were sweating so much that the chain and gears kept slipping out of my hands. I still have faith in our robot. The moment we put the first pair of screws and nuts together is the moment we gave life and purpose to our robot. As long as I haven’t given it all yet, I told myself over and over that I couldn’t give up.
My whole body is sour from bending in an extremely uncomfortable position. I had to hold the robot on its side and make sure it doesn’t fall and break my nose, and at the same time, I had to bend down and put a nut on the bottom of the robot. Everything was due to poor planning. If we had worked harder before, we would probably be done by now. I finally realized how crucial time management and having a plan is.
Tick-tock tick-tock. The night kept getting darker but the lone silhouette in the lab seemed to glow. He was getting stronger, being the last one out under this beautiful night sky.