Manned Satellite

The Vagabond

One morning Vag awoke from a disturbing dream to find himself transformed into a large tape recorder. Indeed, he was no ordinary tape recorder, but a portable, nearly automatic machine which was capable of functioning with a minimum of whirring, clicking and other unsociable noise.

While he realized that he had somehow acquired a "phonographic" memory, Vag wondered if there might not be some bugs in its operation. After putting himself through a few exercises such as, "Name all the members of the Kingston Trio" and "List the titles of Eliot's Four Quartets," Vag was assured of his competency.

But on taking the elevator down to breakfast (fortunately, Vag lived in Quincy), he discovered he had communication problems. When he tried to ask the cleaning woman who was riding with him what she would do if she was changed into a tape recorder, all that came out was a high pitched garble suggesting a recording being played backwards on the wrong speed. The cleaning woman, who possessed great presence of mind, reached over and patted Vag consolingly, hunted around among his several tapes and--with a smile of satisfaction--placed one on the machine.

"Nice morning, isn't it?" Vag's amplifier announced.

"Why yes," said the cleaning woman.

"This weather can't last much longer..,." Vag continued.

"Too much to hope for," said the cleaning woman. There was a pause, and Vag's mechanism hummed quietly.

"Squibiditydibitydibity," squealed Vag, as he tried to repeat his first question, and suddenly the tape announced, "Hi Mary, Hello Josephine, no hot cereal, thank you..."

"Now you've done it!" chided the cleaning woman. "That's what you're supposed to say to the serving ladies. Keep that nonsense up and you'll ruin yourself." Vag hummed quietly again. "You know," she said, "what you need is some nice girl who'll make you study and fix your tapes for you." Vag's tape murmured vague assent.

Vag got through breakfast all right, although he didn't feel much like eating. One of his room-mates, with whom he was sitting, changed tapes for him, and Vag did not stir throughout the meal, although his amplifier uttered occasional comments which, although often ill-timed, were inconsequential enough not to interrupt the conversation around him.

After breakfast, Vag rolled up Bow Street and went bump, bump, bump into Sever for his first class. As a non-Honors junior in English, Vag had chosen three large English lecture courses and one of the more popular History courses. None of these had sections or discussion periods; a fact which had formerly dismayed Vag, but which now rather cheered him. Resting against one wall, his recording mechanism purring quietly as the professor spoke, Vag felt a contentment he had never known before.

Papers would still be a problem, yes, but the heart of his courses, the proper approaches and attitudes, would rest securely in his very innards. And he would never be obliged to say anything, since the tapes took care of all that. For a moment, he was tempted to fall asleep, but, realizing that tape-recorders never sleep, he checked himself and resolved to concentrate.

The lecture was over and Vag's mechanism rumbled with what passes for a yawn in tape recorders. "No sections, no tutorial," he thought. "No wonder they said junior year was worth waiting for!" Bump, bump, bump, Vag maneuvered his way down the steps of Sever. "Off to fresh woods and pastures new," he mused cheerily as he rolled up the walk to Lamont.