It’s prizes season again. You might be forgiven for thinking that this is a good thing. After all, prizes are generally considered to be positive things, to be greeted with squeals of excitement and delight whilst perhaps clapping hands together or indulging in a little skip. Rather like surprises, in fact. I wonder if that’s why the word ‘surprise’ includes ‘prize’ in it? Well… sort of, anyway. But enough of this etymological digression – interesting though it is – and back to the matter in hand.
In this case, the fact that it’s prizes season again fills my heart more with dread than joy. I should probably explain at this point that it’s student prizes that I’m talking about here. Part of my job involves the annual calculation of exam results to figure out which students are the lucky winners of certain prizes. Apparently, the fact that they’re studying at what the TEF considers to be a ‘golden’ university [pauses to stifle a snort] isn’t enough, and we need to award them prizes as well. Although to be fair, the prizes have been awarded for long before the TEF was even thought about. Anyway… this particular job involves me spending hours running lists of data, linking it up with other lists of data, and then staring at row after row and column after column of Excel spreadsheets in order to work out in an extremely long-drawn-out and sometimes quite literally painful fashion, which students should be awarded which prizes.
I don’t know whether any of my eye buddies find the same, but for me Excel is visually pretty horrible to work with for extended periods of time. All those lines and columns are an effort to focus on, and spending long periods of time scrolling back and forth through rows and columns of data make my eyes ache. I’m getting through about three times the amount of eye drops I usually use in a day at the office, and my eyes still ache more than usual by the time I get home in the evening. If it wasn’t so intense over such a short period of time, it probably wouldn’t be as bad. But because this work has to be completed relatively quickly due to various deadlines, I pretty much have to just crack on with it. As a result, I find that Excel in large doses is even worse than Dreamweaver, a program which I find quite appalling in terms of accessibility. Even before my eye issues, I found the size of the font on the menus and files within Dreamweaver difficult to read. These days, it’s horrendous, and I simply can’t use it for long periods of time. Of course, there’s always the magnifier, but that’s not particularly user-friendly either, especially when trying to move between files fairly quickly in order to get stuff done. Maybe I should start thinking about those ideas for a new job again, which I explored in New vision, new job…?
Of course, what makes prizes season worse is the fact that back in June 2014, just two weeks after I’d returned to work after my long period of sick leave following my first retinal detachment, I was starting to work on prizes again when my retina detached for the second time, leading to a mad dash back to the hospital. So now, prizes are associated in my head with a particularly grim period of my life. Unfortunately, being aware of this and understanding that it is merely an association does nothing to block out all the unpleasant memories.
However, I managed to plough through the dreaded task of poxy prizes last year and will hopefully manage to do so again this year, amidst much swearing, gnashing of teeth, and pausing to administer eye drops. The final year prizes are almost done now, so it’s just first years to go once the results are published. And as to who the prize is going to… well, quite frankly, I think it should go to me once all of this is done and dusted. I might just award myself a £50 book voucher. Or perhaps bake a celebratory cake instead…
Note to self: Must remember to stock up on eye drops in prizes season. And lottery tickets. Lots of lottery tickets.
Second note to self: Even prizes are better than more eye surgery.