Guest blog - Things can only get worse

by Rhodri Buttrick on 3 February 2010

The day following my disaster day, I was in the library struggling to find a book for my philosophy essay. Thankfully, there is a “disability coordinator” in the library who is extremely helpful and helps me find the books I need. I can even e-mail him in advance and he will find the books for me so all I have to do is collect them. After he had helped me find the book I needed, I went to the desk to take the book out. This was going to be a better day!

But, reaching into my wallet, I found I had lost my access card! A university access card is possibly the most important thin piece of plastic you will ever own, except perhaps your credit card. Without this, a student turns into a second-class citizen. Not only are you are unable to take books out of the library, you can’t get back into your hall of residence as all the gates are electronic. Officially, you can’t even get food from the canteen, as need to show the card to the kitchen staff.

So this was not just inconvenient, it was a total disaster – I was potentially homeless, hungry and late in starting my essay. What’s more, if I didn’t find the card I would have to pay £10 for a replacement. With the exception of not being able to rent out library books there were ways around the other problems. I had to phone a friend every time I wanted to get that into my hall and the office wrote me a note so I could get food.

With dyslexia, is the best way not to lose things, such as access cards, is to get into a good routine of where to put things. I think I know how I lost the access card. When you enter the dining room you have to show your card so I must have left it on my tray and after finishing my meal, left the dining room and forgotten about it. Usually, one of the kitchen staff notice and rescue the cards but on this particular lunchtime, we had fish and chips wrapped in paper! So a lot of things went in the bin rather than the dishwasher and the odds are, my poor card is languishing in a rubbish dump somewhere.

After about a week of searching and trying to survive without the card, I stumped up the cash and bought a new one. I was determined not to lose this one and figured out a new system. Instead of putting my access card on my tray at lunch, I would put my wallet with my access card in it on the tray. This might sound like a risky strategy as doesn’t this mean I will simply lose my wallet? It is bigger, however, and far more noticeable than a card therefore I’m more likely to remember to put my wallet back in my pocket.

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