Friday, March 28, 2014

Day 130: A Letter From The Island

Captive Log: Date Unknown

I have been on this island for 4 days.  At first, it didn't seem so bad.  It's peaceful and quiet.  I have plenty of room to stretch and a comfortable enough place to sit.  It didn't take long for boredom to set in.  There are several other people here, but I am unable to interact with them.  My captors do not allow it.

Nor do they allow us the use of waste facilities, except at designated times, which seem to be scheduled randomly.  When pressed for a reason behind this, my captors shrugged and muttered something about a secure work site. 

I use the word "captors" loosely because they, too, appear to be trapped here, serving out some penance. They put on a good face when reading off work assignments for the morning, but I can clearly see the boredom and frustration in their eyes.  They give us speeches about how our work is for our own benefit and how it will help us down the line, but I don't believe them.

Interestingly, I don't think THEY believe them.  When pressed further about the purpose of their work, my captors responded that this is apparently the best way to know if we are all making the best use of our time.  When I stated that that seemed counter intuitive, they shrugged and told me to return to my work station.

Each morning that I have been here, we have been separated into work groups of no more than 15.  One day, I caught a glimpse of the rest of the island and the people in other coves and I estimate that there are at least 500 other workers, all broken into smaller groups.

I can't speak for those other groups, but my work group has been given a different array of seemingly meaningless tasks to complete in a designated time frame.  For example, today, we were forced to do calculations for an hour or two, followed by what might have been a letter-writing campaign.

The more interesting, and disturbing part, is the island itself.  When one thinks of an island, they might picture trees and flowers, plants and rocks, waves crashing on the shore and wild animals calling to each other.  This island is eerily silent and empty.

The tree and bushes are bare as though long dead, but everywhere there are signs that this place used to be a colorful and lively island.  Something has taken away that life, apparently very recently, as though even the slightest encouragement might adversely affect our work, leaving everything bland and muted.  When I say "muted" I mean both figuratively and literally.

The sounds seem to be blocked out, creating an unnerving silence.  It's not the non-sounds of an empty place because I can hear the noises, coughs, leaf-rustlings and shifting of my labor group, but the silence of a sound-proof booth.  The trees seem to drink the noises causing no echoes and blocking things I think I should be hearing from elsewhere on the island.

Even the waves lapping at the shore, while they appear normal, seem to be afraid to let the slapping noises get too far away from them, like over-protective parents of adventurous children.  They reach out with invisible watery hands, pulling the splashing to them and hording it.

As I look around in my work group, I am amazed at the variety of reactions among the other workers.  Several tend to their work assignments with enthusiasm, diving in and working very hard, apparently in an effort to please...someone.  Who could it be?  Others have taken the attitude of bored resignation, completing their tasks without joy or interest.

There appears to be no incentive to work hard since we've been told that we won't see the fruits of these labors until many months after we have completed work.  In addition, there is no incentive to work quickly since we are required to remain in our work groups until every member has completed their assigned tasks.

On top of this, we are not allowed to leave our work stations until EVERY worker in every group is finished and an alarm has sounded.

Even after 4 days of this routine, I still cannot comprehend the higher purpose that it serves.  My hope is that it will end soon and that I, and my fellow workers, can return to our normal lives of self-imposed boredom and ennui.


  1. Hilarious and telling. But what's the self-imposed boredom and ennui? Endless video games?

    1. I was thinking more the refusal to engage in lessons and constant complaint about activities are boring.

      Video games rock!

  2. I just scored 13,000 points on 2048 ... it was the closest I've come to winning it. Had fallen behind on your blog; just got caught up. Interesting stuff with the Pre-Algebra students doing the timed shorter assessments and also their reactions (all of the students' reactions) to the subtraction/number-line problem. Looking forward to reading you this week. Nice to talk to you today.

  3. Umm ... has your readership doubled in the past two weeks? Is this all due to the common core post? Holy crap!

    1. Yeah, man! That common core post apparently struck a chord.

      Clearly, I need to write about more controversial topics... :-)


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