I got my timetable online a week ago.
When I first saw it, I was happy, because I got a four-day week schedule:
Awesome. No classes on Friday!
Until I saw Tuesday.
3 Tutorials and 2 lectures.
This is madness.
I know, I know, I only have 13 hours of classes a week. By right (or privilege), I should be happy. I mean, I have friends in Singapore who have 35 hours of classes a week and my brother is one of them too.
But I’m an Art student, not a Premed, not an Engineering or a Science student. I thrive on having as few classes as possible.
I’m not even complaining about the number of hours. I had 13 hours of classes last semester. So having 13 hours of classes this semester is nothing new.
But having 3 tutorials and 2 lectures? All in one day? With only two hours break in between?
Damn it, I’ll die from information overload.
And to add further insult, I have a 9am tutorial on Wednesday.
Oh, boy. I had experienced a 9am tutorial on Wednesday last semester. It was a World Politics tutorial. Knowing my inability to wake up in time and subsequently missing half my tutorials (I still passed, I think my tutor went easy on me), I decided that enough was enough. No more 9am tutorials or lectures for me.
So today, I went down to school to change my timetable. I did it last semester and it was pretty easy. Just go down to a computer lab, talk to one of the student advisors, tell them your problem, do some rescheduling and viola! timetable of your dream.
I planned out my rescheduling first. After all, when it comes to full time slacking, matters like this can’t be done half-assed. It needs proper planning and strategy. So I logged onto the university’s central timetable, checked out all the available timings for tutorials and lectures, made notes and chose which classes I wanted to reschedule.
I was actually planning to spread out my classes over 5 days. But after last semester’s experience, I decided against it. Because most of my classes was in the middle of the day (I cannot wake up early) and I couldn’t do anything much while waiting for classes to start, except to wait for classes to start. So it was like back in the air force, “rush to wait, wait to rush”. I spend 5 days waiting for classes to start. I had enough. I wanted at least one day free and that would be Friday.
This was last semester timetable:
This is an old one. I changed my English tutorial from 6pm Wednesday to 2pm Tuesday. I hate attending classes in the evening. That is another reason why I didn’t like this semester timetable. I have two Philosophy lectures at 6pm on Tuesday and Thursday. FUCK!
Anyway, I went down to the computer lab and met up with one of the student advisors. He was an old man with a shock of neat, trimmed hair. Like a professor. Or a genial, old grandfather.
“So, what’s the problem here?” Student advisor asked.
“Well, I want to change my Philosophy tutorial from 4pm Tuesday to 1pm Thursday.”
Mr. White Hair Man (he did have the most brilliant white hair I ever seen) turned to his computer and started checking out the class attendance for Philosophy tutorials on 1pm Thursday.
“I’m sorry, but they are all full.”
“What….” I stuttered.
“Well, you can have a 9am tutorial on Thursday or a 5pm tutorial. But the rest of the timing, all filled up.”
I was lost for words, so I made an useless and obvious remark: “But… then, that’s the earliest and latest timings of the tutorials….”
“Okay,” I sighed, “How about changing my Art History tutorial from 5pm Tuesday to 4pm Wednesday?”
Mr. White Hair went through the class attendance record for Art History.
“Sorry, all the 4pm tutorials on Wednesday are full.”
I could feel the walls of my slackerdom crashing on me. I needed to do some damage control.
“Okay,” a tinge of desperation creeping into my voice, “can I change my Philosophy lecture from 6pm Tuesday to 3pm Tuesday?”
Mr. White Hair raised an eyebrow. Doing that would mean having only an hour break. But damn it, I will not have a 6pm class. He went through the attendance again and said:
“Sorry, the classes are full”
I anticipated that sentence from him. I saw from the computer screen that under the remarks section, that time period was filled up.
I covered my face and let out a low groan: “Man……”
“Okay,” more damage control, “how about changing my 9am Psych tutorial to 2pm on Wednesday.
I heard more clicking of the mouse and another:
“Sorry, all filled up too.”
By now, I couldn’t say a single word. I just stared at the screen, shell-shocked.
“You know,” Mr. White Hair said, “these classes are very popular.”
Of course they are, these are afternoon classes, not too early, not too late. Everyone wanted those. And the courses I’m taking are some of the more popular ones too, so it explains why there are such a great number of students fighting for such few available number of classes.
I had one last chance. This better work.
“Okay, could I change my Philosophy lecture from 6pm Thursday to 11am Thursday?”
More clicking of the mouse.
I stared at the screen, willing that the class could accommodate me. Willing and hoping that at least, I would not have to attend a 6pm class.
“Sorry, it’s filled up too.”
I slowly tore my gaze from the screen and looked at my timetable, thinking how fucked I was for Tuesday. Thinking how Tuesday was going to fuck my head, thinking how dead I was when I had essays, deadlines and discussions piling up on the same day. Thinking how I was going to survive that one day of mind fuckery.
Mr. White Hair broke through my thoughts.
“You know, you can schedule some of your classes to Friday.”
I looked at him, the one guy who was the answer to my dilemma. The one guy whom my whole semester schedule depended on. The one guy who was to be my saviour but yet failed me, no us, because of the system.
Mr. White Hair stared at my desperate face with a mixture of amusement and pity clashing across his face. This guy couldn’t decide whether to feel amuse at my so-called plight or to empathize with me.
If I were he, I would feel the same way too. A student trying to wiggle out of some non-desperate situation. But what the hell does he knows? I don’t want my current timetable. I want changes.
The thought of moving some classes to Friday sounded so good, so tempting. It was so easy. All I needed to do was to give the go ahead, pointed out which classes I wanted to reschedule and Mr. White Hair would do it in a matter of seconds.
It was so easy. Just like that, I wouldn’t have to face 5 hours of brain damage on Tuesday.
“No, Zareth, don’t do it,” a figment of myself floated in front of me, “remember what you promised yourself. You wanted Friday free. You shall have Friday free. You SHOULD have Friday free. Just for one day, endure 5 hours of classes. At least you have the whole Friday off.”
Mr. White Hair stared at me, impatience forming on his face. The line of students outside the lab increasing like a caterpillar engorging itself on its last meal.
I looked at Mr. White Hair. I looked at my timetable. I looked at the computer screen. I had to make a decision. And I needed to do it now.
“Okay,” that would be my last okay, “I think, I’ll just leave my timetable as it is.”
Mr. White Hair smiled.
“You know,” he said, “don’t try to change your timetable by yourself. You might end up with something you don’t like.”
At that point, I thought he was advising me. Now I realized that he thought I did some changes myself but got some messed up timetable. But I didn’t. The system gave me this fucked up timetable. I didn’t catch his hint so I just said, “yeah, I know.”
“Thanks for helping me,” I said, even though he barely helped me out.
I went out of the computer lab, still dazed by the experience, by the thought of Tuesday. As I stood outside, watching students, friends, staffs and security personnel enjoying themselves with the O-Week festive on Eastern Avenue, I felt a sense of injustice, a feeling of hopeless rage boiling in me, a hurt that crawled towards my throat and clung there, refusing to let go.
Last semester, it was so easy to change my classes. Why not this time?
I felt angry. But mostly I felt numb and hopeless.
Then something inside me snapped.
I turned around and cannoned back into the computer lab.
My target was Mr. White Hair.
I ran fast, ignoring the long line of students and their look of consternation on their face.
Mr. White Hair.
He was my target.
Actually, he wasn’t, he was just collateral damage.
I left my student card behind.
To summarize the whole story:
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