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Friday, January 20, 2012

Murphy's Law

I am in Prof. Murphy's precalculus course again, but this time it is at night. Last semester I did not feel like talking about the fact that I had to drop two courses. It will suffice to say that everything which could have gone wrong certainly did.

The walk across campus to my math class yesterday evening seemed dream-like. After six weeks with virtually no schedule, I am taking courses at weird hours. Since it was late, there were fewer pseudo-random event generators (students) passing near me. I noted the differences in sound, scent, temperature, and just about everything else which would result from being on campus at a late hour. Class went okay though. After nearly two hours discussing functions and linear equations, it was time to leave. Prof. Murphy explained that the OSD would soon be sending me the Brailled first four sections of the book. I promised to email him if I heard anything from the OSD and then headed outside. Again, it felt so still and strange to be here this late. I had to stay focused and find the place where the short bus would pick me up or risk getting lost in open spaces.
"Amanda!" An unfamiliar voice, sounding out of breath. "I'm glad I found you. We've been Brailling all night."
The voice belonged to the OSD's new employee, who handed me an envelope containing an inch-thick volume of paper Brailled on both sides. Naturally, I was looking forward to getting some work done and began looking it over on the short bus. It contained mostly indecipherable gibberish, adding to the unreality of the school day.

Later, I sent an email explaining the situation to two people in the math department and three in the department responsible for the Braille. My last sentence, "I could really use some help," is an understatement. I've been at this school since 2007, and this sort of thing is not new. As I was composing, I received a message from Prof. Baldwin asking how the latest upgrade to my software was coming along. I didn't want to touch it. Something would surely go wrong. I imagined reams of nonsense-covered paper flying out of an embosser which I had previously unplugged from the wall. In dreams, even the laws of physics and cause and effect are not enough to constrain the chaos. All the things which should never go wrong most likely will. Dreams, or encounters with average human beings?

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