When my Family Studies class recently had the chance to spend an entire period in the library, I naturally spent the entire hour-and-a-half researching my thesis topic, finding references and working on my position response.
That, and training to become a master at Asteroids.
By grade 12 most students, myself included, gain the ability to not only control a tiny ship as it blows space rocks and aliens to bits, but simultaneously keep track of the librarian’s exact coordinates. Which isn’t so easy, considering a requirement of all school librarians is to be trained in the Ninja arts. You know, so they can sneak up on a student doing anything but schoolwork. Unbeknownst to me, it was already too late.
The librarian had locked on to the weak thermal signal emitted by any student within a 100km radius that’s playing a video game. Before I could switch task bars to the decoy homework website (and regain a carefully-posed bored stupor), the librarian lunged for the kill.
The thing is, I wasn’t even playing Asteroids at that specific moment. I was e-mailing myself all the work I had done. Sure, personal e-mail is a violation of the Library Code of Conduct, but it somehow felt wrong to be caught sending an e-mail when I had been playing a video game 30 seconds before. Sorta like if someone, after robbing a bank and hijacking a car, was caught double parking. I felt like saying, “You think THIS is bad? You should have seen what I was doing 30 seconds ago.”
I had innocently assumed that, since I was surrounded by half a dozen kids talking loudly AND obviously playing video games, I was low on the librarian’s hierarchy of harassment.
I made a grievous error: forgetting to factor in that I am a Nerd.
The basic rule is that the least intimidating-looking student is usually the one that somehow becomes the ‘example.’
Out of a group of students that’s talking loudly, making a mess or playing video games, guess which one becomes the scapegoat:
A) The one that has a biology textbook with them, has glasses, and is fugitively glancing over their shoulder because they’re violating a school library rule,
B) The one that’s slumped low in their chair, has their hair jelled into spikes, is wearing (used-looking) brass knuckles, and is shouting across the aisle, “Hey Bobby, I beat your high score. BOBBY! HEY BOBBY! I SAID I BEAT YOUR HIGH SCORE! WHAT? AN ENTIRE SENTENCE IN CAPITAL LETTERS IS ANNOYING TO READ?”
It didn’t matter that I was working between alien invasions and had the volume at zero. It wouldn’t have mattered if the other kids had decided the time was right to set some books on fire and rip the cover off the biggest most expensive book they could find. I had a biology textbook AND a calculus textbook on the desk beside me. I was doomed. Survival of the least-nerdiest.
By the time I heard the low-frequency “pop” of the librarian phasing directly behind me, I knew it was too late. I only had enough time to formulate a lame excuse. Like, “My thesis evaluates the traditional four-directional steering versus the eight-directional steering found in Asteroids.” Or, “I heard that you could detect a video game, evaluate the relative intimidation-factor of the perpetrator, and recon directly behind them within 0.5 seconds. I just had to see for myself.”
That, or I could shave a large S on the back of my head and get a nose ring.