Sep '09 - Aug '10
I slept last night because all of the big decisions have been decided. My instincts screamed that I should attend a DRL party last night for Machiavellian reasons, to make new connections, strengthen the old and feel out people’s positions on different topics. So much has politics and social awareness been embedded into my way of operating here that it only became apparent to me the moment it becomes of less urgency. Up until this point the two big questions we continuously revolved around was ‘who do you want to form a team with’ and ‘who will form a team with you?’ The last 4 months have felt like a political shuffle of epic proportions as we form and reform teams for every class and project. Like all political games I think, this one was played primarily in the background, in chance meetings in the hall and out on terraces. It relied heavily on luck and intuition with timing being the ultimate virtue. Over the last few weeks this scramble began to skirt out into the open, becoming ever bolder as time diminished. Just before it ended I had the sensation that this is what life must be like for the teenage girls depicted in tinnie bopper movies as one imagines how perfect life will be when you find the ‘right’ team mates. You fantasize about what it will be like to work with them, how great your project will be and how they will bring such skill and talent into your life. Then the negotiations stumble, they say ‘maybe.’ You stay up at night wondering if ‘maybe’ could mean yes or if it really means ‘no.’ You wonder how long you can wait for their decision and you think about who else they may be talking to when you are not there. More conversations occur, they keep saying ‘I need a night to think about it’ and you find yourself telling other people ‘maybe, I will get back to you.’ Everything is in limbo. You will never get married to your prefect team mates. Teams solidify around you and the members smile, enjoying their newly formed bliss. Eventually you reconsider your options and become a bit more realistic about what you want in a team mate. Suddenly everyone has a fault. All the coolness and laughs of the previous months turn into potential balls and chains dragging you under the surface misery for the next year. Despite the fear of commitment, you have acquired one team mate and together you are looking for number three and four. The choices are slimmer now and it is time to get bolder. Quasi interviews are scheduled, you all go out on a speed-date of a lunch to discuss priorities, agendas and tutor choices. Questions like ‘how do you think you will fit into our team’ are asked and ‘would you be willing to consider working with so and so…’ All the while, finals are raging, work is being produced and no one is sleeping. Avoiding the people you told ‘maybe’ to but really meant ‘no’ is becoming more difficult and the realization that maybe when others told you ‘maybe’ it really meant ‘no’ too is sinking in. Everybody is in teams of two now which should make it easier to match a team of two and a team of two and reach the magical quota of 4 geniuses all working harmoniously together. The only problem is that it doesn’t work. Two is too many. One will say ‘yes’ and the other says ‘maybe.’ Damn, maybe means ‘no’ doesn’t it? ‘How are we going to break this team apart’ you ask. Time is running out so ultimatums are made. Emails fly and phone calls are made. There is no hiding now as every second counts and delicacy is thrown out the window. You hear yourself telling someone ‘we need an answer by tomorrow at noon.’ High noon!?! Yes, it is this dramatic. It’s a long night and you know the emails are flying. By 8am the fruits of your labor are graciously displayed by gmail: they broke and you got the piece you wanted. Success. Relief. A team of three is now safe. It is a good position to be in because you don’t technically need anyone else. You are now in control. The selection is now very slim and the strategy changes to one of personality solely. It’s all about a good fit now because one cantankerous member could ruin the nice family you worked so hard to build. Now interviews are conducted with three members standing together in the hall facing one other uncomfortable person. Everybody now wants to be on your team and so you have to set a deadline to make a decision by. ‘We will let you know by tomorrow night’ you tell them and they know there are more people you want to talk to before you discuss their qualifications amongst yourselves. Finally, as a team the forth selection is made and someone goes out to offer them the position with good benefits and crappy hours. Your team is now full and tutor proof as they will not break up a team of 4. Teams of three are at risk.
The day arrives where everyone has to choose a tutor with their team. The tutors process in and ask if everyone has a team. Nods all around. They ask if anyone is in a team larger than 4 or less than 3. Two hands go up, a team of two. This is what everyone feared. In typical DRL fashion a discussion breaks out about how to solve the problem, break a team of 3 or break the team of two? It gets messy and in a rare top-down moment of administration the tutors decide to take control. They ask for all ballots to be passed in and retire to a back room to sort the teams and distribute the team of two. It’s like the sorting hat in Harry Potter as everyone waits nervously for them to return while trying not to look nervous at all. The only distraction is to examine the teams and marvel at how it all worked out. Who found who and who compromised with who. Projections are made for how each team will fair and which ones are the obvious power houses. After 40 minuets, the tutors emerge and read the fates of each student. It is done. You can hear the exhale of weary relief.