I’m in the middle of supervising a local college exam, it’s one of the last of the week and everything is going pretty smoothly.
I’m patrolling the little section of the exam hall, basically three rows of desks, that I’ve been assigned to.
As is probably natural when you’re in a confined area for a long period of time, two hours to be precise, I’ve grown quite used to my little area and I’ve adopted quite a protective nature over it.
My routine is simple:
I walk in between the rows of desks, all in perfect silence if I do say so myself, walk to the end of the row and allow myself to stand for a few seconds on the spot before relaxing for a few seconds on the edge of a vacant desk, before I’d slowly turn up towards the next row and do it all again.
All of this while of course giving some expert eagle-eyed supervision along the way over the 30 or so exam candidates seated around me in this, my student filled dominion I watch over.
Yes, everything in my corner of the world is going just right, well, as right as it can be for someone supervising exams.
I’m at the end of the third and final row of desks in my section, right in the middle of my moment of relaxation when suddenly I notice…
‘Hang on a second’ I think to myself, inwardly frowning, taking in this new development ‘what is she…?’
Another supervisor (let’s call her Fiona) had started walking slowly down a row in MY section. This was unheard of…
She’s moving slowly down the rows, hands cupped behind her back, eyes darting over all of the students, her footsteps not at all silent.
‘Maybe she’s just made a mistake, it’s been a long day and she’s probably just not as vigilant as I am. She’ll get to the end of and realise she’s in my area and it’ll all be grand,’ I reassure myself gently.
She reaches the end of the first row and instead of looking up and realising her silliness, she turns and starts slowly walking down the SECOND row of my section, her footfalls annoyingly loud.
‘Okay, okay, don’t panic,’ I quickly think ‘she’s probably still just confused, it’s an easy mistake to make, I’ll just subtly let her know’ I think confidently.
I move off from my spot on the edge of the vacant desk and start walking down the next row, alongside the one my fellow supervisor has (hopefully) mistakenly encroached upon.
‘Ahem’ I cough quietly as I near her, ‘this should sort it,’ I smile, inwardly confident.
Nothing, no reaction, as she continues her trespassing.
‘Okay probably too quiet, I’ll step it up, she is going to feel so silly when she realises what she’s done, we’ll laugh about this afterwards. It’s classic Fiona…’ I chuckle inwardly myself.
‘AHEM’ I cough more loudly.
Success! She looks up just as I’m passing her, I give her an encouraging smile, just to let her know there’s no hard feelings, before ever so subtle nodding back towards her section, which of course means:
‘Come on, you’ve had your fun, now get back over to your own area you scamp’.
‘Poor woman, the embarrassment she must be feeling now’ I think, offering her another encouraging and pitying smile.
She smiles back and continues on her way, stopping at the end of the row before she slowly moves to sit on the edge of my vacant desk, where she then stays for two long minutes before heading back up my THIRD row of desks.
‘My God! The nerve of her…’ I think. ‘This wasn’t a mistake by her at all, she’s purposely walked into my section, she’s trying to make me look bad in front of the others, this is an act of war!”
‘Oh-ho-you have messed with the wrong person, two can play at this game!’ I huff to myself, ‘I’ll beat her at her own game!’, making my way over to HER side of the hall.
I’m at the start of her original section of desks and start my routine, determined now to supervise the heck out of her students.
‘We’ll see who makes who look bad now’ my body full of inward maniacal laughter.
One step, perfect silence, another step, perfect silence.
It’s like clockwork through the first two rows of her area, I glance over, she’s not even looking at me, the shame of losing her section to me must be eating her alive.
‘Haha!’ I’m congratulating myself on a well earned victory as I walk through the final row when suddenly —
I look down and see that I’ve stepped onto some old wooden floorboards hidden underneath the carpet.
The noise echoes through the entire hall, breaking the exam atmosphere and drawing stares from some of the students and the other supervisors.
‘Oh God, she’s tricked me…I’ve been bested’ I realise instantly, this was her plan all along.
The exam ends a few minutes later, and as the students depart, the rest of the supervisors organise the scripts before they head away for the evening.
Fiona is collecting her jacket when I make my way over to her, determined to let her know that I’ll be ready for her games next time…
“Phew, glad that’s over, they really do drag on don’t they” she smiles at me.
“Haha, yeah they do, it’s a long ol’ day, I answer.
“My legs are killing me, all that walking, you’d be on autopilot most of the time, you wouldn’t know where you’d be wandering. Well, see you tomorrow!” she smiles.
“Yeah, see you tomorrow” I respond with a smile of my own.
‘What a lovely woman’ I think to myself, before grabbing my own bag and jacket and heading out of the hall.