Some of the most remarkable pieces of writing have been written while in bondage. This, which you are about to read, will not be one of them.

The ideology behind “room time,” a consequence for one’s failure to practice proper social behavior, is to provide time for the violator to contemplate his detrimental behavior in his or her room. Despite the apparent formality of the practice, room time is quite a “trip;” that is, if you can consider complete immobility in a 6×8 room “a trip.”

For one thing room time can spread. Should a “free” student mistake a “room time commando” (called this for their reclusive behavior) for one of his own kind and engage in conversation with him or her, (while not in meal time or chores) he will acquire the roomtimer’s sentence.

A 10-day roomtimer carries with him the power to inflict 10 days of room time on any of his classmates foolish enough to fall prey to his siren song. For these reasons the room timer is regarded as a roaming parasite, an infectious germ seeking to drag down his fellow classmates into the “sludge” from which he was spawned. However, the infection rarely spreads. Students eye those they once knew warily and are not fooled by their familiar ruse.

What becomes of the room timers, you might be asking yourself? Their story is a much brighter one than what has been so far described. When they work, they swing, carry and dig with the enthusiasm of a toddler with a new toy. They view the world, when their eyes adjust, with a newfound respect and appreciation, that their “free” classmates could never contemplate. They are encouraged to be heard and listen to their classmates, a luxury that vanishes at the end of class. Above all, they are darn sure to practice mature and appropriate behavior when they are, once again, free.

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