The Pit Of Despair

It occurred to me only later that I came dangerously close to sleeping through the LEAD final. Sure, during the normal semester, not a morning goes by that I don’t compose “I’m too sick for class” emails in my head at 8:18 sharp, in response to the twisted pleasure my heartless alarm clocks (yes, that’s plural) derive from fourth attempts to get me out of bed. But that’s during the regular semester. During exam week, I’m what Myers-Briggs would label a “J” – for “Jump out of bed 10 minutes before the first ring, time caffeination perfectly so as to empty bladder fully 2 minutes before download time, get to desk with 3 new pens, a highlighter, and 2 blank floppies, even though I don’t have an A drive.” So you can only imagine the unique combination of expletives I employed upon being startled out of a perfectly decent sex dream by my printerless neighbor knocking down my door at T-minus 8 minutes to download time. In my defense, it wasn’t completely a case of the J-ness being on the blink: I had just spent the night in my first state of nostril-whistling congestion since the Flu of ’96.

As the disgruntled laserjet spat out the coversheet, my eyes caught the “Number of Pages: 19 plus 800,000 exhibits with limited apparent utility to you for this exam” accompanied by the title – “SMA Microelectronics Products Division (A).” Oy – talk about not being at one’s Best Self. I cleared the pile of clothes off my chair, and, with the attention span of an ADD child charged with reading The Iliad in Greek, I began my painful odyssey through the plight of Guido Spichter, finally putting 2 and 2 together that that’s why people buy “Nightime-sniffling-sneezing-coughing-aching-stuffy-head-fever-so-you-can-sleep-medicine.” At least the week was almost over, I kept thinking.

Tonight, a quickie review of the Keg O’Nails and the cost of Part A103 at John Deere, and in 24 hours Term 1 would be but a distant memory of Aussies et al in drag. Goodbye Kiwanee dumpers and non-asbestos pads; hello Fridays off, and classes called “Biggy.” Yet little did I realize that as I arrogantly (and frankly arbitrarily) decided upon a fate for Mr. Spichter, a certain email was snaking its way through the HBS server into my inbox.

I had known it would be too much to ask to get skydeck again, so I was prepared for relative laptop screen exposure during class. However, as an optimist of the “Of Course I’ll Meet And Marry Jude Law Now That He’s Single” variety, I figured the odds were against getting too screwed. But oh mother of mercy; it wasn’t pretty. I stared at my floating head on the screen, as I consumed a post-LEAD Spangler lunch: I wasn’t just in worm deck. I was in CENTER worm deck.

How could this be? The Gods of Almost Random Secretive HBS Algorithms were punishing me. But for what? I mean come on – I hadn’t meant to Google that pop-up porn during class – I’d been conducting legitimate skydeck award research! And seriously – there had been 30 of us up in the boon-docks, and only three had been assigned seats with exposure levels equivalent to the Naked Dream. (Admittedly, at least the three of us had had a taste of skydeck – the fourth shlemazel in our row-to-be was a former powerdecker.)

Well, it’s been a couple weeks since my inauguration into the Evil Seat.

There’s no case-reading during class, and my performance in spider solitaire is being monitored by a small audience behind me. It’s disconcerting to know that if the mouse slips and I accidentally lose a free space by putting the ace of clubs on the two of hearts, 35 people conclude I’m stupid and make mental notes to never return my networking emails later in life. Plus, my LCA prof is an avid classroom jogger, and the constant alt-tab toggling to Word gets on my nerves. More irritating is my own personal air conditioner above my head, which is clearly value-added in January, and was strategically installed to boost mid-morning sales of warm drinks at the Coffee Cart. That said, the seat has its good points.

Getting airtime, for example, which in skydeck was as rare as a single Jewish guy at HBS, is now as easy as finding a forlorn RC pondering the answer to “how many garbage cans are there in Tuscaloosa?” That is, the second even a pinky flexes north, poof – I’m explaining Bretton Woods.

Finally, the seat has unmasked an acoustical phenomenon: After 26 years of being told to lower my voice by anyone not from my father’s side of the family, the other day I actually got the official Section C “Speak The Hell Up!” hand signal from several newly-marooned skydeckers. Who knew I could ever be a low-talker?

Just when the jury was about to judge the seat “not intolerable,” there occurred what I refer to as the Beech-Nut Incident. It was Monday, and Career Services was plying us with pizza to entice us to sit through a lecture that, by all objective criteria, was fully for our own benefit. A sectionmate and I had questions afterwards, but as we stood waiting our turn, we suddenly realized it was 1:08, and we sprinted downstairs. Alas, we were indeed late, and there was no way to traverse the pit inconspicuously. At least I’d talked in this class, so I was at low-risk for a cold call, I figured, and I could explain the tardiness in a shameless pit-dive later on. (Ethically, I had to turn myself in to the captain of our 4-man self-appointed pit-dive police force, who showed me no preferential treatment, and ruthlessly recorded the event in his official Pit Dive Data Excel Log.) With trepidation, I began my crossing just as I heard the prof say, “who’d like to start?” Suddenly, in slow motion, a cowardly voice from left field – “Jenn.” A fellow sectionmate was cold-calling me? Gee, I hadn’t realized I was giving off “I have great insight into the handling of the Apple Juice Concentrate Fiasco” vibes. Thoughts of revenge swept through my mind as I hastily searched the Sunday night archives for “Opinion on Andersen.” But then I realized, hey – I’d just found an ending to this article.