tabulating the results

Where have all these people been who say, “we have consider the person’s
intent when tabulating the final results?” I could have used one or two of
them as a senior in high school taking my SAT college entrance exam. I was
whipping out answers when I realized I was answering horizontally on a
vertically numbered grid sheet. My intentions were good; the answers right,
but computers do not read intentions. I began erasing my horizontal
responses and recording them vertically.

I did not do well on that test.

Ahhh, but that was just a computerized test with a rigid computer refusing
to recognize my good intentions and the work I did to arrive at those
answers. With a little bit of understanding and a personal grader going
over my scratch paper, my score would have improved vastly. My intentions
were obvious … if the reader just knew I had confused the way the lines
were marked.

But the ‘good intentions people’ weren’t around and my SAT score remained
below my expectations. My score was better on the ACT, but then I filled in
that computer grid correctly.

And where were these “consider the person’s intentions” folks the summer
vacation my husband saw the cutest set of twin Navajo toddlers in an
out-of-the-way store in Arizona? Their mother allowed him to take their
picture – if he would buy something and send her a copy.

He intended to send her a copy, but 20 shots, a couple hundred miles and a
day later he realized he had not completely put the end of the film through
the film advance post when he loaded the camera. No cute pictures of Indian
twins, my nephews or the desert scenery. And no time to go back and retake
the picture – but his intentions were obvious. We just needed one of those
“the intentions are clear … make it so” folks around.

Computerized answers and camera film do not interpret human intent. Plus,
college entrance exams are given in quiet rooms where great pains are taken
to insure that no one sees the answers the test takers record. And, for
sure no one was watching when my husband threaded the film into the camera,
so we can only assume he intended to do it right.

But my brothers’ and husband’s intentions were obvious to everyone when
they played basketball. They just needed someone who would consider those
intentions when calculating the score.

I’ve seen them throw the ball towards the basket fully intending for it to
go in. I’ve watched the ball bounce into the backboard, off the rim, hang a
moment on the edge of the rim, even whirl around the hoop and dip into the
net before spinning up and toppling out of the basket into the opposing
team’s hands. Every spectator there knew the player intended for the ball
to go down through the net for a point or two – but it didn’t. No matter
what the basketball player’s intentions, if the ball didn’t go through the
basket, that team scored no points. Those are the rules.

For them it was too bad, so sad, you lose – until those who say, “we have
to consider the intent” begin scoring the basketball games and rewriting
the rule books.