My last name is Vaz. Which starts with a V. Anyone else who has a last name which starts with a letter near the end of the alphabet will probably share my dislike of alphabetical order. We’re always last. And it isn’t fair. I was last in enough things in school, like 3 blocks runs and being picked for group projects. Did I really need the additional misfortune of being last for things simply because of my last name? Apparently.
I’m taking a class right now at UBC, which is what reminded me of this today. At the end of class, our assignments were handed back. And our names were called out so we could go get our assignments and then leave. And of course they were called out in alphabetical order. What else is new? And so I sat there. Wanting to leave. But unable to. Because the people with C last names were still being called. It was going to be a long while…
I’ve had to go through this in all my years of education, ever since I can remember. When lining up for things, we would do it alphabetically. Which meant you were always stuck in between the same two people in the line up. And if you didn’t like those people, well, that was just too bad. And sometimes that would be how groups or partners were assigned. So if I didn’t like the kid who’s last name started with T, or the other kid who’s last name started with V, it didn’t matter. We were stuck together.
When tests and assignments were handed back, I would always have to wait, much like I had to wait today. And yes, people say that sometimes the teachers would mix it up and go in reverse alphabetical order instead. But I feel like that rarely happened, if ever. I cannot recall a time when it did. Maybe my childhood memories are just biased and blocking out the few good experiences that may have occurred?
So I had to wait a little longer for certain things, so what? Would I have really done anything important with those extra minutes that I spent patiently waiting? Probably not. But that’s not the point. It’s the principle of the matter. And sometimes it wasn’t just time that I missed out on.
In elementary school, we would have “hot lunch” every so often, maybe once a month? This was basically when the school allowed us to order food, since there was no cafeteria or place to buy food and we would always bring it from home. For hot lunch, we would have to bring in money and check off what we wanted days in advance. They would order from places like Subway or Pizza Hut, or sometimes it was just hot dogs, catered from I don’t know where. When the lunches arrived, guess what order they called them out in?
So I had to wait longer before I could eat. But that’s not all. You would also have the option of ordering a drink and a donut. You could specify what drink you wanted, but the donuts were just a first come, first served thing. And everyone wanted the long johns. But there weren’t enough long johns to go around. So when it was finally time for the girl with the V last name to get her food, there were only jelly donuts left. And I didn’t like jelly donuts. It wasn’t fair.
I suppose things could have been worse. There were always kids with last names that started with W and Y. But were pretty much in the same boat. But at least since they were there, I was never dead last. I guess at least that was something. I think if I were a teacher and I was handing back assignments, I would just mix them all up and read them out in a completely random order. That way no one is at a disadvantage. Although then you wouldn’t know when to listen for your name. At least alphabetically, you knew when it was going to be your turn. Damn, I guess it is the most efficient way. But still. It wasn’t fair.