July 11, 2006


I am sitting here at my desk looking at a little sticker, preparing myself mentally to remove it.

I am haunted by thoughts of purchasing gifts from high street shops and trying to get the little price sticker off, when the little price sticker has no intention of being removed. Scraping with stubby fingernails is only partially successful: the sticker yields, but either it is glued so firmly onto the surface beneath that only the top layer of the sticker comes off, leaving a fine layer of paper still firmly attached, or the sticker manages to remove part of the surface it is glued onto.

Neither option is good for the sticker I am currently looking at. This sticker has been carefully placed onto an exam paper by the staff who deal with examinations. Usually there is no sticker, there is simply attached to the paper the id of the student whose exam paper this is, partially concealed so as to assist marking anonymously. But this time the staff have slipped up, and forgot to make sure the student's id is firmly attached to the paper. Luckily this is a student who needed special facilities to take the exam, and when his word-processed answers spilled from the printer, the computer had attached a header bearing his student id. Diligent staff then slapped a sticker over it to conceal his identity.

I have to remove the sticker, it's the only way to know who wrote those answers.

But what if by removing the sticker I obliterate the number? How would I ever know whose script this is?

(oh the suspense)

(over a little sticker)

All that worry for nothing. It peeled off flawlessly. I apologise, exam administrators, that I was so cynical in my estimate of your sticker quality.


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