Some of us were never meant to understand

The title is rather dramatic for the actual content of this post. What I want to talk about, and what has been on my mind all morning is: how the fuck does everybody else know what’s going on?

And by ‘what’, I mean ‘everything’. I spend my life in a perpetual state of confusion. I don’t mean just when I’m stuck in a complicated talk or reading a book that uses words more than ten characters long. I mean going-to-the-fucking-bank-and-being-owned-by-the-ATM confused. I just can’t seem to get my act together.

who let meThis week I became a student again. I’m actually quite excited about it. So of course, I think: “I’ve got brains enough to get into this establishment, I must have enough to help me navigate the general administration that being a student involves.”

“MWAHAHAHHAAAHAHHA” says the neat little post-doc human lurking in a corner with all his books, access cards, maps & uncanny ability to remember all of his passwords (I’m locked out of Vula AGAIN). He takes one look at me tripping over my own slip-slops and realises that I don’t really have the mettle to cut it on a large campus. Hell, I don’t even have the mettle to cut it at my local library. I seem to just be wired all wrong. Papers (the wrong ones, which I picked up by mistake) fly out of my hands and are sacrificed to the paper-gods daily, pigeons capitalise on my weakness by stealing my sandwiches while I’m trying to rescue my lost papers, and campus admin staff’s eyeballs are stretched to dangerous levels of roll.

So what is the secret? While I’m trekking with bags, baby supplies (which I’ve forgotten in my school bag & will probably irk my baby some time shortly) & milk-stained clothes, others seem to have time for coffee, work & arriving on time to lectures.

I always counter my deep confusion by arriving preponderously early for everything and thus confusing the shit out of the people who can’t figure out who I am or what I’m doing there. Misery likes company. Also, confused people tend to ask a lot of questions and I get a lot of mine accidentally answered in the process.

“Er… who are you?”

“Who, me? I a student, who are you?”

“Er… well, I work here. And that’s my chair and… can I help you?”

“Oh, no thank you. I used this thingamajig to get in. Do you have one?”

“Your student card? Yes, I have something like that. Um, where did I put my coffee?”

“I’ll get you one. Can you just point me in the direction of the kitchen? And the computer lab? And tell me what courses I’ve signed up for?”

“Sure, sure. Just, uh, get out of my office and get my coffee.”

archer confusedScore. I usually then hand them some kind of sign-up form on which I’ve filled in & crossed out all the wrong sections, signed by the wrong person (possibly the caretaker or the local traffic service official), and which should really be handed to the funding office rather than this random stranger who I found in the department I presume I’m registered to study under.

There has to be some tool out there. You know, some way that shows me how to do things before I ask all the stupid questions. I’m sure there is signage everywhere, but it’s in a language I don’t understand. Or am too impatient to read.

Forget studies – it happens at work, too. In all my jobs, it takes me more time to figure out the damned administration line than it takes me to pen the 20 000-word e-mail explaining why I’m not fit for the job & should probably be fired. It doesn’t matter if I’m the most or the least qualified person for the position – I will assume that there is somebody with their head screwed on straight who can do the job a great deal faster & with less fuss than I can. And I’d probably be right.

I would like, now, to take the time to thank the people who have helped me get this far in life without accident or bankruptcy. Because, frankly, that’s the sort of thing that awaits people who live in a constant state of “HAEH?”. To my parents, who instinctively steer me back to happy reality with their daily phone calls to make sure I’m still alive (and also by teaching me certain skills which have been nicely lodged in my procedural memory bank & cannot ever be lost. Hello toothbrush, hello car!); my partner who ensures I am well-fed and clean & social; my mother-in-law who made sure I ate all my fats at dinnertimes & dressed warmly always; my sisters who put up with me while running our family business (there was much hand-holding here); my grandma who used flash-cards to ensure I was at least good at school, if not at life; and all my friends who forgive my confusing text messages & bouts of cursing in casual conversation. Did I mention my sisters? Well, they kind of fit in all of the above categories except the flash-cards bit. I’m sure they’re kicking themselves for not having thought of that.

notI think I need a little award for getting this far. Now, if only I could figure out how to put my name forward for it.

Thank god for the internet. Here I can lurk and pretend I know what’s going on from the safety of my beanbag.

Please tell me there are more out there like me.


  1. Yes yes yes!
    This is why I love the internet so much – because it means I can google how to do things (like get on a bus) without looking like (too much) of an idiot.
    The admin around my last degree was more incomprehensible/academic/higher grade/rocket sciencey than any of the actual studying/exams I had to do.

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