I took my copy of the Marquez book to the Fitz library, along with my laptop, so I could use their dictionary. There are supposed to be digital spanish-english dictionaries available on the computer system, but those are all non-functional at the moment. I had expected not to be able to find a power outlet, and so I was pleasantly surprised to find one in the reference room. I sat down and started translating.
It was slower than I’d imagined. I’d read the passage several times, and thought I pretty much understood what was going on, and I had, less or more, but the details were numerous, and I had little choice but to err on the side of caution and look up seemingly every word. About an hour through translation I realized that the white-noise background in the room was actually rain on the roof, or more accurately a downpour. I had my laptop with me and no raincoat. I kept translating. After about 2.5 hours I was done with my first pass, and was amazed to discover that what had been handed to me in a reasonable typeface on less than a single sheet of paper occupied two and half pages 12pt single-spaced on my screen, despite reducing the number of words from the original. At a page an hour, it wasn’t exactly speedy translation. To be fair, Marquez writes a little like Hawthorne, in sentences that have no problem with running for half a page. By the time I had finished the rain had stopped. I hurried back to my room, transferred the files to my computer-system (Public Workstation Facility) account, then went to the computer room to print it. When I got there I decided I needed to make one last wording change, and ended up logging back into my computer remotely and recopying the file before printing it. It was about 10:25 at this point. I printed it out on the malfunctioning college printer, tossed it into my backpack, and biked down to King’s college, in the center of town, to turn it in. King’s college had “closed” at 10:30, and there was a sign outside to this effect. I was surprised, as I’d read on their website that their porter’s lodge was open 24 hours a day. I pushed vainly on the huge, ancient wooden door. Eventually, one small part of the door, indistinguishable from the rest, opened as a man dressed like a lumberjack stepped out. I stepped in and asked the porter for a stapler and said I was looking for the pigeonhole of Ann Frost.
“Pigeonhole” is a term used universally in Cambridge and presumably all of England to mean a mailbox of the sort found in dorms and offices. In Fitzwilliam, they are simply cubbyholes sized for large envelopes, completely open. By comparison, the ones in most American dorms are combination-locked, and the mailboxes in Simmons Hall are keyed to the room keys. At the porters lodge at Kings they did not direct me to the pigeonholes. Instead, they took out an envelope stuffed with translations of Marquez, took my work, stamped it with King’s College porters’ seal, dated it, and put it in the envelope.
It would appear that Prof. Frost has something that I had not previously encountered: a secure managed pigeonhole.