Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Why I Kill

By Tracy Kiely

I have to admit, I’ve gotten this question before. It’s a popular one at writers’ conferences. Usually I answer with something along the lines of, “Mysteries are great because you can guarantee that the bad guy will get his just desserts. We live in a world where there is so much chaos, injustice, and just plain stupidity that it’s nice to create a world where order reigns, where there is justice, and where nice people do get ahead.” For the most part, I believe this. But then, every once in awhile, something happens, and I realize that no; this is not the case. I write mysteries because certain things happened that annoy the crap out of me.
My eldest son is seventeen and will be off to college next year. As our first, we have NO idea what this process entails as we grew up in a time when people knew what a typewriter was and the fax machine was still only a twinkle in Al Gore’s eye.  So my husband and I try our best. We lean the language (unweighted GPA is your grade; weighted GPA gives you an extra .5 per class if it’s an honor’s class).  It’s kind of maddening. The other day, as we were getting ready to send in his applications, we noticed an error on his transcript. We called the counselor. She pulled it up. She assured us that the mistake had been corrected and that the version we were looking at was an old copy.  She assured us that all the transcripts that were sent out did not have an error on them. She then sent us the “corrected version;” the one she’d sent out to all the schools.
It had the error on it.
Seriously, this is what she said, when we pointed this out: “Oops! I guess I shouldn’t multitask!” 
At this point my husband went in to talk to her; it being agreed that I should not as I’d begun to mumble and play with the kitchen knife.
Here’s what happened:

Husband:       So, do schools look at the weighted or unweighted GPA?
Counselor:      Well, we tell students to base their applications on the weighted GPA.
Husband:       Okay. But what do the colleges look at?
Counselor:      Well, we only send the weighted GPA to the schools. It’s really unusual for them to sit down and calculate the unweighted GPA.

Husband then thanks her and leaves. He calls, and tells me the about their conversation. I then look down at our copy of the transcript. It lists both his weighted and unweighted GPA.
I email counselor and ask:  So, do you send both GPAs?
Counselor:  Yes. We send both.

This is why I sometimes have to write stores that involving people dying. 


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Yeah, I've mumbled and played with knives myself. At least you have someone who'll play interference for you. I'm on my own and sometimes it ain't pretty.

TracyK said...

It really can drive you nuts! And that's why (fictional) people must die.

Barry Knister said...

Your candor is admirable. There really is no point in being coy about the satisfactions that come to those of us who commit murder, albeit the vicarious kind. Surely, you can find a place in a future book for a counselor who meets with, well, misfortune.

Alan Orloff said...

I can't wait to read "Murder in the Counselor's Office."

Susan C Shea said...

Totally understand. In the current manuscript under revision, I may have to dump the private revenge character. It was more self-indulgent than plot-worthy!