Braille Monitor                                                                           December 1986


If I Had Only Thought

by Gary Wunder

(The following article is excerpted from Gary Wunder's lead article in the May-June, 1986, issue of the Blind Missourian, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Missouri.)

Once I took an English course under a teacher I particularly wanted to impress. This special teacher did not believe in collecting papers every day. Assignments would be given daily but would be collected only once each week or so.

My schedule was such that I had a study hall just before my English class. I did all my papers, but because the papers were not collected daily, I gave them to my reader and friend, who was also a member of the same class. I reasoned that he could hand in the papers when they were called for. Assignments were not always requested in the order they were done, and I knew of no way to hold them and hand them in.

Near the end of the first quarter our teacher listed the number of total points available, the number of papers assigned, and the number of papers each of us had turned in. How well I remember listening with pride until the teacher said, "Gary Wunder, 14 out of 22, 8 papers missing." Eight of my papers were gone? Where? My friend didn't know. Perhaps they blew out of his notebook. Perhaps he left them at home. He just didn't know. One quarter wasn't enough. I went through four quarters always believing I would get a good grade, and always wondering just what had happened to me. What is so perplexing to me now is that I didn't think I could do anything about it. I was a helpless victim.

Today this whole story sounds bizarre. I always carried a briefcase in school. I could have put seven folders in the case, one for each class. Each folder could have had a card attached to it with a Braille label. Each paper in the folder could also have had a card attached to it with the date the assignment was done and the number of the assignment if the teacher assigned them that way. I could then have turned in my own papers, kept track of them when they came back, and could have kept them to go over before major tests. I didn't do any of that because it simply did not occur tome that I had an alternative.