Heads are bowed over hundreds of tables as English teachers read essay after essay for hours on end. Some read standing up, swaying slightly as if davening before the Wailing Wall, although wailing is frowned upon here. It's a remarkably quiet room considering the number of people and chairs and pieces of paper. Periodically a bell rings and we all reach for headphones so we can hear what the room leader has to say. By the end of the week the sound of a bell will make us salivate in unison.
Reading for hours under fluorescent lights puts quite a strain on body and soul, but we all develop our coping methods. I sit up straight and stretch my legs out in front and raise and lower them or swing my feet around in circles. I lean forward and then back, set the essay on the table or lift it up in front of my eyes, cross and uncross my legs and occasionally slouch. To keep from getting sleepy I breathe deeply and maintain steady caffeine intake, but for mental alertness nothing works better than a quick shot of laughter--which is, sadly, in short supply. It's hard to share a good laugh when everyone remains so studiously quiet.
If we all took time to share the funny things we're reading, we'd never get through 200 or 250 or even 300 essays in a day. And so we sit, and sometimes we stretch or grimace or reach for the chocolate, but when something really funny comes up, we're generally constrained to keep it to ourselves.
And then that little bell rings and we're released from our labors--and then, look out! You'd better not get in our way!