One day, after eating lunch in the library, I was just about to leave when I saw a sticky note on the ground. I don’t pick up every piece of trash I find on the ground, but this note had an especially elaborate doodle on it, so I shoved it in my pocket and went to class. It was only later that day, on the bus, that I remembered the note burning a hole in my pocket.
I was shocked to see what I had laid my hands on. A gold mine, a token, a treasure map, the meaning of life, a true beauty of a note. This note had more information on it than I could retain in a single school year – maybe even my lifetime.
This note really has it all:
The rudimentary question to ask is, “What does this all mean?”
Don’t be alarmed. That’s what I thought that day on the bus. In that moment, I knew that this note is surely not like the other pieces of trash in the library. I had found this note for a reason. This note found me! This is where I started my search for information.
The note is actually written on a post-it note from the prescription drug “Rebif.” Rebif (A.K.A interferon beta-1a) is a drug to help people with multiple sclerosis. It should reduce relapse of the people suffering from MS. The Snake Box on the back of the post-it note was obviously in reference to Rebif’s international $44 million dollar scandal back in 2011.
One of the biggest clues I caught early on was the labeled graph on the back page. The axes are labeled “PriceLove” and “GOP”. Well after some research on linear graphing, I can only conclude that the the price of love, something we all experience, is going up as the the Republican party gains more and more power.
Now, to the numbers. This was as far as I could possibly bear. I spent many sleepless nights looking at the numbers: [8, 64, 12, 96, 68, 44, 52, 16]. I cross-examined with everything. After weeks with no closure, weeks with no great epiphany, I figured that this problem must be bigger than just me. Abandoning my original plans, I knew I couldn’t do this alone. I would have to get some great minds working on this. I found the best person I knew for the job. He’s right up there with Stephen Hawking, Terence Tao, Euclid and Pythagoras himself: Steven Rattendi.
I knew that I could not tell Rattendi exactly why I needed to solve the numbers. If he knew the true power of this note I doubt we’d ever see him again. The pure knowledge of the note would consume his soul, making the crude problems he deals with today even more intolerable. I’m sure he would quit his job and pack up, chasing the note till the day he died. I couldn’t do that to him – he belongs here at South.
To prevent Rattendi from realizing the true power of the note, I decided it was best to play it cool in our interview on Wed, Nov 4, at 11:23 AM. It started the same as any meeting with him, with little cooperation. At first he treated me like he would any kid who came crying to him about his or her class placement or an unfair grade.
Rattendi: *mumbles* I have so many things I have to get done *mumbles* What is this about?
Rattendi: How long will this take?
Rattendi was clearly not in the mood for chit-chat. I decided to just cut to the point. I placed the sequence on his table. I barely even mentioned anything about a sequence of numbers and Rattendi’s face went stone cold. He started shaking, and whatever remained of a once-happy man was gone in an instant.
Rattendi: Are YOU the one who’s writing this sequence all over
Eli: What are you talking about?
Rattendi: That just keeps showing up…
Eli: What are you talking about, Rattendi?
Somehow, Rattendi was already very familiar with these numbers. He was shaking at just the sight of them. I was almost shaking at this point, too. Whether out of excitement or fear, I can’t say.
Rattendi proceeded to stand up and frantically swarm around his office, showing me scraps of the sequence. He claimed someone wrote them down in hidden places for him to find, and he collected them, and saved them… Hmmm… Doesn’t that sound a lot like me finding a note in the library? At this point it was clear that this sequence, these numbers, this note, was coming for us. It was coming for any who were worthy of its power. After Rattendi’s office quarrel, he was not in the mood for any more discussion.
He took a firm stand by his office, telling me, “LEAVE ME ALONE!!”
The meeting ended better than expected, but still with no closure. I was just thankful to leave that small room with my life.
While I was happy to see that I wasn’t alone in this uphill battle, it was discouraging to see how easy it would be to lose oneself in the note. It is known that being on the brink of greatness is not too far from the edge of madness. It is known that being on the brink of greatness is not too far from the edge of madness.
Seeing Rattendi like that – obsessed, stressed, and sleep deprived, all because of the note – made me second guess the value of my most recent post-it find. After talking to Rattendi, I realized that I had to put the note down. Chasing the power of the note was just not a lifestyle I could afford to live anymore. I’m not gonna lie, coming back to a “normal” lifestyle wasn’t easy. It was hard telling my friends why I was talking to them when I specifically told them I wouldn’t be any more due to research. It wasn’t easy explaining to my parents why I no longer needed a to-scale model of a “snake box.” It wasn’t easy retreating back to the average, noteless life, but I’m happy I got out of there when I still could. As for Rattendi, I doubt he will ever be the same.