Friday, June 1, 2012

The Game of Life

The Game of Life: Then and Now

I was in high school in the mid-90's. My class had the distinction of being the last required to take Business Education and the first required to take Career and Personal Planning (CAPP), affectionately known by most as CRAPP.  We thought this to be rather unfair since it cost us an elective that classes before and after us got to keep.

In grade 10 Business Ed, several of my classmates and I figured out how to hack the system so that we could play games on the computers instead of only being able to access spreadsheets and a primitive word program. The only useful thing I remember learning in that class was how to complete a tax return. By the time I had my own tax return to complete, they had invented programs like QuickTax to allow you to breeze through the process without any tax-return know-how. 

My Business Ed teacher interviewed each of us at the end of term and asked us what grade we felt we deserved. Not wanting to overshoot, I said a B+. His response? "Well, I was going to give you an A, but since you don't think you deserve one, you're getting a B+ now." I loathed that man!

In grade 11 I was one of the few people in my class to defer CAPP 11 to the following year because it simply didn't fit in my schedule. In grade 12, there were two classes of grade 12 students taking the dreaded "CRAPP" class. The class was pretty easy and had been reworked so that future students took it once a week throughout high school instead of as a separate class, so there was not that much material for us to work through. We completed most of the work half-way through the semester. 

As an incentive for us to show up to class, our teacher decided that we would get 5 points for every class we came to, adding up to a certain percentage of our final grade, there opportunities for bonus points, and we had a couple of "byes" each. If we already had enough points for a good grade, we'd sometimes take a 5 point hit to take advantage of an extra "spare." We had cracked the system and knew exactly how many days we could ditch and retain our A's. On particularly sunny days, it wasn't uncommon to find a group of CAPP students hanging out on the hill beside the school, catching up on homework or just absorbing the rays. In our CAPP class, we were to work on projects for that or other classes. Many of us simply ran out of things to do in class, so we were then allowed to play cards (math!) or play The Game of Life - because it could teach us valuable lessons about life! Duh! With quite the odd combination of classroom activities, one could enter our classroom to find someone painting, a group playing poker or Gin Rummy, and a group playing The Game of Life. Of course there were a couple of slackers who weren't finished the required material, or hadn't used their legitimate spare to catch up on other homework, so a handful of students would be doing actual schoolwork.

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I encountered The Game of Life again.

I had just gotten my iPod Touch 4 when Suze and I found ourselves with her mom, waiting in a doctor's office. I pulled out the iPod and we began playing the digital version of The Game of Life. Each of us would take our turn, make some cheesy or sarcastic comment, then pass the device over her mom who was trying to nap in the seat between us. Apparently our comments were rather entertaining, because before long the other patients in the waiting room were switching seats so that they could better hear us.

A sample of the type of comments they observed:

"$5000 in books? Remind me, why did I choose to go to college again?"

"I'm volunteering at a soup kitchen."

"I just bought a plasma flat screen! Movie night at my place!"
"I'll bring the snacks!"

"You got married? Thanks for telling me! Why do I have to give you a present when I wasn't even invited?! Ouch and an expensive present at that!"

"Oh look! I adopted twins!"
"Well I have no kids, so I just paid off my student loans!"

"I'm living in a trailer now!"
"Yeah, I see that. Now get it off of the lawn of my Victorian Mansion!"

"I'm a doctor now! I told you college was the way to go!"
"Well I'm working in Entertainment."

"I just won an Idol competition! That entertainment career is really paying off!"
"Congratulations! Now hand over half of your prize money, I've got a share the wealth card!"
"...evil glare..."

"Ack! I just got ticketed for speeding?! I was SO not speeding!"
"Maybe it's the fancy car you bought with that doctor's salary!?"

"Why am I paying $10000 towards your kids graduation?"

"I really hate to do this, and it's nothing personal, but you should know that I'm suing you for $10000."

The best part of this was that initially the elderly patients across from us thought we were having a real conversation about our lives. What interesting and scandalous lives they must have thought we led! Once they moved closer, we explained that it was just a game. They looked amused and a little disappointed at that, but they chose to continue being entertained by our antics for the rest of our visit.

*The comments above may not be the actual dialogue used, but are true to the spirit of our banter.

**** Suze sent me the following: "I read it. But I couldn't comment because blogspot is evil.  I do wish I could remember the ACTUAL dialogue we used cause I seem to remember it being HILARIOUS."

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