Classes finished nearly two weeks ago but the final exam for my course was scheduled only for the very last possible time slot.
This means I’d spent the first week off hauling my parents around town and drinking absurd amounts of coffee, sitting in the living room in my awesome new high-tech thermals (thank you, family), looking out the window at the frigid city rooftops and laneways.
I started this week temporarily back at work on Monday, invigilating in a freezing, dimly lit, post-apocalyptically deserted university where everyone except me, my 40-odd kids and the class matriarchs had gone home for the long winter break.
The walls radiated cold. The admin office was locked and dark and I had to wait until the last minute for someone to give me the exam and exam room number.
No one had remembered to get me the keys to the listening console so we had to send a runner down 5 flights of stairs to the tech office for that. They brought back the wrong keys and had to start all over again. Then it turned out that the computer console’s electricity had been turned off at an unknown source, then it turned out that the computer itself didn’t even work so the techie had to go back down to his lair to bring up a new one. Half an hour after the exam had started (and half an hour after the listening part should have started) I plugged in my USB memory stick and told the kids to brace themselves for the listening section only to discover the new computer didn’t have a media player installed. The techie was summoned again. The kids were nervous wrecks from all the interruptions. We were able to begin 40 minutes late. The class matriarchs didn’t bat an eyelid. Such is China.
Yesterday, I trudged back to my office after two days of hair-pulling marking at home to input the final grades, only to find it even more dark and chilled and echoingly deserted. My normally chipper and green potted plant was shivering in its ceramic pot. It was snowing sideways. Three days of snow in a (insert quotation marks here) Tropical City. I wore my mittens as I typed. My poor old computer roared after being awakened from its long, icy slumber. Every other office on my floor was locked tight, dark, deserted. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just hallucinating my job.
Today, I’m officially done until the 21st of February. My parents and I are off to Qibao for some touristing. Good times.