austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Something familiar, something peculiar

I got up for my first final, the tiny class doing quantum mechanics, before 7 am -- punishment enough, I'd think -- and went to the Dean's Office to get the preprinted question forms and answer booklets. They seemed to not know I was coming, but a secretary agreed to go back and look around. I was kept on the other side of a card-access door, although several other secretaries and one janitor came by and asked if I wanted to enter. I did, but felt my vague instructions to wait took precedence. Finally the secretary who'd gone looking came out with my exam materials, and then the secretary who was supposed to be handing all this over arrived. I was early. It's a nervous habit.

I searched for the venue, a lecture hall I'd never heard of. I wandered around following ambiguous signs until one of my students found me. It was shared with a considerably larger chemicals course. The official seating chart ... had none of my students on it. The other class's instructor had instructions (usually the larger class's instructor runs the venue) which didn't say a word about me. Ah! But, my copy of the attendance sheet and seating chart ... was not given to me.

I look like a graduate student, partly from long experience, partly because I want to look less formal so my title, height, and bulk are less intimidating to students. The trouble is, here I was, without any attendance sheet, seating chart, any paperwork showing I should be there, and without my students because they couldn't find the place. I had to keep insisting that yes, I was supposed to be there, and I started planning for if I had to abort the exam altogether, which would have been no great loss, as it was one of the worst exams I've written.

Fortunately, I suppose, the student who found me located my other students, and there were enough empty seats I had a column for my class. The other instructor let me proceed, with only mildly dubious glares at me through the exam. After I went back to the Dean's Office and explained the problem, and sent an e-mail, all on the uncontroversial, I would think, grounds that if this happens with my other class, the one with 93 students, it will be a hideous mess. I hope it won't come to that.

Trivia: 2600 new structures were built in Brooklyn in 1851. Source: Gotham, Edwin G Burrows, Mike Wallace.

Currently Reading: The Last Castle, Jack Vance.


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