Let me set the scene. It’s 3 a.m. during finals season, 2018. I had been kicked out of the library about an hour ago. I had moved into the Argosy office with my friend Sean. In the morning I had a term paper due. The paper was 700 words over the limit. I had given up. It was the perfect time to do my citations.
Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever done Chicago style citations, or any citations at all, but the crème de la crème of citation style guides is the Purdue OWL website (no offense to our own library guides). I have used this god-tier website since Grade 9 without issue. It is the absolute gold standard. I trust this website with my life – or, at least, I did.
I prepared to dominate the citations. Home stretch, baby. I typed “Chi” into my search bar and “Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition // Purdue Writing Lab” immediately appeared beneath it. This wasn’t my first rodeo. I clicked on the result and prepared to start copy-and-pasting bibliography and citation templates into my paper.
I was not ready for what I was about to see: Error. 404. Page. Not. Found. What? How could this be? What’s going on? Some sort of cruel joke?? Who would do such a thing??
I went into the Purdue website’s search bar and tried desperately to find those beautifully curated citations. No luck. Panic set in. I had books with multiple authors, editors and translators, sometimes all at once. Where else could I find how to cite these? Certainly not the actual Chicago Manual of Style – I can’t be bothered to read that and the library is closed anyway. No other website had the obscure citations I was looking for.
Panic turned to fear. Fear turned to anger. To rage. I had to do something. I had to tell someone. Sean was the first to hear.
“OH FUCK! THE PURDUE GUIDE IS DOWN!” I exclaimed.
Sean didn’t know what I was on about. “What?” he asked, foolishly.
“Sean, it’s all over for me. I am fucked.”
But soon, it came time for action. I was NOT going to take this lying down. I scoured the Purdue website some more in hopes of finding the guide, but I instead found something much better. A phone number. The phone number. A line to God Herself. The Purdue University Computing Services Department. Bingo. Long distance charges? Not even a consideration. Some things are more important in life. Someone had to fix this. Someone had to pay. This was not just a “me” problem. I thought of the millions of other students who rely solely on the Purdue guides. Their removal of the Chicago Style guide was equivalent to the burning of the Library of Alexandria: an atrocious crime against knowledge and education.
I dialed the number and, with absolutely no hesitation, I pressed call. Go time. I soon realized I had no plan of what I was going to say, but that didn’t matter. I was speaking from the heart. I went to voicemail; apparently, the office had closed for the day several hours ago. What poor service. “Hello,” I began, “I’m calling from a small university called Mount Allison up here on the east coast of Canada. It’s about three in the morning and I’ve just realized that your Chicago guide is down. I don’t know if this is on purpose but you guys really should get that back up. I’ve been a loyal user of your guide since about the ninth grade and I’m now in my third year of university and I think it’s pretty messed up that you guys would take that down.…”
In the end, I left a five-minute long voicemail that wrapped up with something along the lines of “I’m sorry for going off but it’s hard out here. Just please put the Chicago guide back up, thank you.” Somehow, I managed to guess the citation formats by piecing together information from about six other websites. The next day, I had a new voicemail on my phone: “Hi, it’s ____ calling from the Purdue Computing Services Department. The guide is back up now; we were just reorganizing the site overnight when there wouldn’t be anyone on it – or so we thought. If you have any other questions, please feel free to call us back!” I had of course missed the call, as it came at 8:30 in the morning and I was asleep, as I should have been.
Now you might hear that and think, “Ah, of course the website was just being reorganized.” That is NOT correct, IDIOT. I just saved ALL of your asses. Let me explain. There was no “reorganization,” OK? It was a cover-up. Purdue was going to take down the public study guides to cause students at other universities to perform poorly on assignments. Suddenly, Purdue is the #1 university in the world. But they weren’t careful enough. They didn’t think we would notice. Well, I noticed, and I EXPOSED them. Don’t try and step to me, Purdue, or you’ll be in a world of hurt.
In short, my procrastination has once again saved my own, and everyone else’s, ass and I’m basically the best human being to ever exist.