The ASL Rookie Series: A Registration Craze

Short fiction series #1; (c) 2021 Jolanta Lapiak

Old Building, University
Old Building, University

Poppy stood before the Old Building at the University of Handland campus on the first day of class.

She sensed her stomach fluttering. Being a freshie, she wasn't sure whether she should come to see the MLCS (Modern Language and Cultural Studies) department to beg for her enrollment in ASL 101, the beginners level.

Earlier that week in front of the monitor, Poppy dropped one of the courses that she heard that the course and its professor were tough. She banged on the keyboard "drop" and browsed for another course. She looked and looked. A foreign language? Nah, it's out of her question. But, wait a minute. "ASL 101" caught her eyes. Hmm, American Sign Language. That ought be easy, she thought. And interesting, she mused. "I've always wanted to learn sign language since I was in kindergarten."

She banged on the button to register. Sorry, full! There was a wait list that she could add herself to the wait list. She clicked on the button to add herself to the list. Yet still, she felt uneasy. She must find another course to fill the gap in her course selection. While she hunted a list of courses, the ASL 101 course nagged in the back of her mind that she couldn't wait nor she could miss it. Somehow she must have it so badly.

Ah, an idea popped up. She emailed the professors of ASL 101 to ask if the professors could add her to the class. All professors replied about the same that they couldn't, merely to be fair to everyone. One of the professors, Agnie Lapiak, gave a sound advice that Poppy could keep an eye out for any drop right after the first class and stay eye on any drop to grab in the next days until the end of two week of the add/drop period. The other professor Barbara Ruddy invited her to come to her first classes to keep up with her language learning until she formally got in so that she wouldn't get behind when she officially got in.

So far, that was the whole story. Here she stood at the entrance of the Old Building, hesitating whether she would do the right thing. She pulled an old fancy door and peered in. The foyer was quite empty and quiet with a few floor stairs to the granite floor, columns, old framed photos, and all that sort of stuff.

Stepping in the foyer, she looked around. There were two hallways on both sides. She climbed up a few stairs to the main floor and looked right and left. Toward to the left hallway, she noticed the sign "Modern Language and Cultural Studies". She walked straight toward the end. Peering through the glass-paneled door, she turned the knob. She slowly opened the door. The secretary, tapping on the keyboard, greeted, "Hello, may I help you?"

Poppy nervously mumbled, "I'm interested in registering a course in ASL 101. It's full, but I'm wondering if I can be added as an extra student?"

Nadie replied with no hesitation, "You need to contact the professors of the course."

Dang! Back to square one. Poppy thanked and quickly left. U-turn. "Wait a minute, do you have any tips for grabbing a spot if someone drops it?"

Nadie looked up thoughtfully for a moment, "Hmm, all you can do is to keep eye on the HandTracks."

"How many are there on the wait list?"

"One moment," she tapped at her computer and looked up with the news:

bad news

"As of now, there are 116 students on the waitlist."

bad news
Poppy reacted

Poppy thanked Nadie and left. "That's it. I'd never make it."

Standing outside the Old Building, Poppy couldn't help it but thought, "Why did they suggest her to keep eye on the add/drop changes in the next days, even though there are 116 students on the list? Is it a first-come, first-serve basis?"

Pulling out her phone, it reads 8:45am. The first thing she did was to log in her HandTracks account. She opened and eyed on the number 24/24 for all ASL 101 courses.

Still full. "I will check right after the class." She eye-blanked at the screen in silence. The first class was at 8:00am with Professor Sussie who invited her to observe the class. It was too late. Agnie's class was at 9am. She stared at the room number. T B 95.

Poppy dragged her heavy backpack across the plaza, heading toward the Tung Building where the ASL class was located in. Maybe she could sneak into the class and see what the first day of class was alike. After all she had not much to do at 9am anyway. She entered and looked around. She walked along the hallway to the classroom #95.

Other students pulled the #95 door and entered. She followed in, quickly glancing around. There were about half the size in the classroom already. She nervously took a seat. Few more students entered. Then another one. This time, she didn't look like a student. She wore a smart shirt and black skirt, business coat, and a black travel-type suitcase. That must be the professor, Poppy gulped.

The professor strided across the room, took a quick glance at the class, waved her hand and smiled, as she walked toward the podium. Poppy looked around, thinking maybe she should leave because she didn't register nor she was invited to observe. She saw that the other students suddenly became quiet, watching the professor with curiosity. Poppy grasped her backpack, hinging on whether to leave or stay through the class. She couldn't help but became intrigued as she noticed, like everyone, that the professor didn't vocally say anything.

Ms. Lapiak busily set up, while two more adults came into the classroom and sat in the front. Again, they didn't look like students. What was going on, Poppy wondered with growing curiosity. Suddenly, the two adults moved their hands around. What were two adults doing - sitting in the front row and manually speaking in the classroom? Poppy anxiously looked around to see if it was a wrong class. Ms. Lapiak greeted the two adults in sign language. Suddenly, the whole classroom fell silent as the students gaped when the adults exchanged in signed language very quickly.

See in action
Fast signing
The students perceive how the ASL instructor chit-chat with the other signers.

This observation blew away Poppy into another world. That's it. Poppy straightened up in her seat and moved her backpack under her seat for a long journey of adventure. Glancing at the clock, it was just one minute before the class started. She quickly grabbed her phone and tapped.

23/24. One fire-hot spot available.

Poppy frantically tapped and banged on the button REGISTER.

See in action
bad news
It was a close call, whew.

Now Poppy never felt so relaxed, sinking comfortbly into her seat.

The 9:00am clock striked. The professor tapped on the table loudly to get everyone's attention and began talking in American Sign Language (ASL). For a split second, everyone felt aghast, gripping on their chairs, because not a single of them knew sign language; then, they felt relieved when the interpreter, sitting in the front row, vocally translated ASL into English, "Greetings, welcome to ASL 101. I am Agnie Lapiak..."

Poppy felt transported into, not another world, but into an outer space.

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