Tuesday, September 18, 2012


“And the on-line quiz is going to work every single time, right?” I said with heavy irony, a touch of despair, and hoping that I would not be praying for death when it was over.

 Ms. Koopmann, my composition II teacher replied, “Yes, yes, of course the on-line quiz will work every time.”

She smiled with a confidence that I did not trust or understand.

Ms. Koopmann was my college teacher. She taught creative writing and composition II (a class that I had already taken but in another state and with another course name and another magic class identification number, therefore the computer in Florida did not recognize my perfectly fine efforts, and I was having to take it over. It’s take the class over . . . or, hire a private detective to locate my former composition II professor in North Carolina, obtain a letter stating that I did in fact take composition II, and that I stayed conscious for the class and did not argue unduly with the professor.)

Since I took classes in North Carolina, the world has gone green and all written submissions, quizzes, and tests can now be submitted on-line—as in by computer, through the ether, over the Internet (invented by Al Gore or the government or some guy in a garage.)

“And the on-line quiz malarkey is going to work every single time, right?” My question was intended to receive verbal reassurance from my teacher that the whole techno-mess would, in fact, work as promised.

 It didn’t.

 Half way through my first timed computer quiz, my chubby husband of thirty plus years rolled over in bed onto my computer mouse. His flopping about caused a strange, unrelated “window” to pop up on my computer screen, over the top of my quiz. It was a window offering mandarin Chinese lessons.

 Okay, I was taking my first computer quiz in pajamas, in bed, with snacks.

  I clicked on the window; it disappeared.

  The computer quiz gods decided that I was A) dead B) cheating or C) descending the stairs like a goddess (that’s a quote from the reading I was being quizzed on, and that’s why that’s funny.) The quiz god “locked down” my quiz taking. I choked on a pork rind.

“Sherwood, you just blew my first quiz.” I clicked on boxes, windows, and pictures of a blinking padlock.


 “Urrrrrrghabloooooolig,” he said, squashing my bag of Bar-B-Q pork rinds.

“Wake up, man. I have eleven minutes to figure this out.” I clicked and cursed. The clock ticked down. “Ugh, I have ten minutes.”


“I HAVE EIGHT MINUTES.” I clicked madly. “You rolled over my test, and oddly enough when I asked the Help Desk what to do when a chubby husband rolls over on top of a computer mouse causing the, “Do you want this document translated into Mandarin?” option to pop up, THERE WAS NO ANSWER.”

He fumbled for his glasses. The clock ticked on and on. I balled up my fist, shook it at the sky, and cursed the computer quiz gods.

 “Sherwood, I’m doomed and damned.”

The clock ticked down and a cartoon bomb exploded when my twenty minutes had expired. A cold hard lump formed in my throat, nostrils, and sphincter.

I emailed my teacher to explain my quiz taking failure. Her email “came back” with the computer explanation “no such human being exists on this earth.”

 I have begun to pray for a computer related on-line death for a version of myself that resembles a cartoon. More about avatars at a later date.

Linda (Computers are the devil’s workshop!) Zern

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