I’m sure others have had worse, but this was certainly the most unpleasant I’ve ever been through. My history of science exam this morning was a gruelling test of handwriting speed and endurance more than of knowledge: 5 essay questions in 3 hours, some outrageously subjective and open-ended. “Is science complete? 500 words.” “Is information technology revolutionary or evolutionary? 600 words.” Horrible, eye-rolling questions … and, in fact, the exact SAME questions that we wrote papers on during the course. And those word counts? I couldn’t have met them writing flat out for six hours! The first hour was painful, the second was torture, and I had resorted to strange hand contortions by the third. We’re talking real suffering here! Hours later, I’m having trouble typing this, my right hand still hurts so much.
An addled invigilator really dialed up the weirdness. For several minutes before the test, she listed draconian rules like it was a matter of national security, implying that we might be shot or at least expelled for sneezing. However, SHE screwed up: first her cell phone rang — on “vibrate,” but sitting out on her desk it might as well have had a fire alarm ringtone. She ignored it! Then she trigged a loud advertisement on her laptop … which couldn’t turn off even by shutting the laptop. As she stabbed keys and sweated, an entire roomful of students were torn between outrage and schadenfreude. And then her phone rang again. Which she ignored. A strange, strange morning.