06 January 2014

The Moral of a Cheating Story

First of all, if there are kids reading this, I would like to make it clear that I do not condone cheating during exams. It is not only dishonest but ultimately counterproductive.

During my life as a student, I always preferred to rely on my intellectual capacity than on a crumpled piece of paper that was otherwise called the codigo. However, I was not a saint.

There were extremely rare circumstances when I would – uhm – allow myself to be persuaded by circumstances that taking along a codigo was not such a bad idea at all.

As it happened when I was still in college, we were still required to take 12 units of Spanish. This was universally regarded as a petiks course; and it was no surprise whatsoever that it would soon be removed from the curriculum.

I mean, even in my day, we could not see any practical application – apart from the swearwords, which were not formally taught and which we all knew, anyway. Frankly, most of us thought it was a waste of money.


My classmates and I stared speechlessly at each other for a moment. Then, we all burst out laughing! Everyone one suddenly remember that midterm exam.
So I was in my junior year and I was already behind in my four Spanish subjects.

As things were, because of my East Asian Studies major, in one semester I was taking French I as an Elective; Nihonggo II as a required course; Filipino I because I got caught in the dragnet of the revised curriculum; and yes, Spanish IV which I should have taken when I was a sophomore but did not.

It was, perhaps, the craziest of all my semesters in college; and, needless to say, the words of the four languages as well as the different sentence structures got jumbled up frequently inside my head.

For Spanish, we had this kindly professor who could put a hyperactive child to sleep without even trying. He was a visiting professor who was Filipino but taught for a long time in a Mexican university.

Those in our class discovered early enough that there was one way to divert him away from the Spanish which was tedious to begin with. All that was needed was for somebody to ask him about Mexico and he would willingly go on an inspired soliloquy about the country.

As a matter of fact, we assigned somebody before the class to ask the question. How deranged was that?

Of course, just like all other professors, whether they taught or not, they had to give exams during midterms and finals. All the storytelling was great; but when midterms came along, let us just say that we knew more about Mexico than the language spoken by its natives.

It probably served us right.

It was particularly difficult for me because I was taking up three other language courses in the same semester. I was also playing in the football team; and preferred to devote more study time to my Majors than the petiks classes.

So, as did everyone else in that Spanish class, I fell to temptation and brought along my own evil piece of paper. Frankly, referring to it during midterms was so easy it was embarrassing.

In those days, many students brought along attaché cases to school. All we needed to do was to place our attaché cases on our desks, slip the codigos underneath these and it was party-party!

For this Spanish class, the professor throughout the entire exam did not get up from the teacher’s chair. Moreover, he spent the whole time looking up at the ceiling and turning his head this way and that.

How easy was that for all of us!

*****

Weeks later, I was with a group of classmates making our way to a class when we chanced upon the same professor. “Sir!” we called out to him.

Instead of looking straight at us, he looked ABOVE us. That was only when he finally recognised us and said, “Hi guys! Going to your class?”

“Yes Sir!” we chorused.

“Sorry I didn’t recognise you guys immediately,” he said. “I have problems with my direct vision and I have to look up to see who I am talking to.” And he went on his way.

My classmates and I stared speechlessly at each other for a moment. Then, we all burst out laughing! Everyone suddenly remembered that midterm exam.

The damned fool was watching us all the time!

[Footnote: My classmates and I talked about the professor and our midterms many times afterwards and we were all in agreement that he probably saw us fooling around during the test but also recognised the minor subject for what it was. I will be the first to say that what we did was incorrect; but it sure as hell was also fun!]


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