Patience is a Virtue
Once I saw Sylvia Browne on Montel Williams (I swear - I swear I was channel surfing. I watch loads of bad television, but that is one type of bad TV I don't actually watch.) Anyway, apparently, SB believes something about how we all have one major "life lesson," and blah, blah, blah. Well guess what? My life lesson is clearly patience. Because I have none. Nor have I had any that I can recall. Perhaps I should get some. I would probably die a lot later if I did. Plus, I know my life would be a lot easier. But, gob, have people been acting stupid lately.
Exhibit A: Solitaire girl walked into class Tuesday wearing a little spaghetti strap thing that was not much bigger than a cocktail napkin. She was also wearing shorts and flip-flops. It was exactly our tenth class in that building. And guess what? It's really air-conditioned in there. Really, really air-conditioned. I've been in meat lockers (literally) that are warmer than that building. So most of us wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts and bring extra layers just in case. Why? I don't know. Maybe because we're not idiots. Not even five minutes into class, Solitaire girl raises her hand and says in her Southern accent, "Hey, y'all. It is SO cold in here that I cannot concentrate. Is it okay if we change rooms?" I am evil. I said loudly, "Don't worry. Playing Solitaire rigorously will warm you up." I don't think she heard me. Our poor professor. She is just so nice. She wanted to be accommodating. "Well, we could try, but there's no guaranteeing that we won't get kicked out in an hour when the class who is supposed to be in that classroom shows up." Then SG says, "Well, what about room 119? That room is always empty." Let me tell you something about room 119. There's a reason it's always empty. Probably because it used to be a janitor's closet. Or a place to keep the dead bodies. There are, maybe, 15 desks literally smashed in there. I had a class in there two years ago and it. is. miserable. The professor looked around uncomfortably. "Well, . . . I suppose, if you really want to. I'll have to ask the rest of the class. Is it okay if we move?" A man who I didn't like before (for taking lots and lots of cell phone calls) is my new best friend. He said loudly and clearly. "No. I don't want to move. It's too crowded in 119 and we're already here." He didn't add, "Oh. And by the way? You're a dumb-ass for dressing like you're going to a picnic on the beach." But I still like him anyway. Solitaire girl proceeded to shiver dramatically and just said, "Okay, but I can't even think straight it's so cold in here." Guess what I did? I gave her my hoodie. Because I could not listen to her for one. more. minute. And because I was actually warm. What with the perimenopause and all.
Exhibit B: The section I'm teaching this summer meets on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 4:30 - 8:30 p.m. It's pretty brutal. For me and the students. But I try to make it fun. I give them lots of breaks, etc., Since the summer session is only 5 weeks, and we're off for the Fourth of July, and the last class meeting is the final, we actually only meet 8 times. One of my students, let's call him Bobby, didn't show up the first week of class. He e-mailed me that Sunday with something about "extenuating circumstances beyond his control" (sounds like bullshit, if you ask me) and what did he need to know to be prepared for class this Tuesday. I e-mailed him back and told him to have read the first five chapters in the book and I attached a copy of my syllabus. I may have mentioned it, but my syllabus is very detailed. So Tuesday comes and no Bobby at first. He shows up at 5:45. That is an hour and 15 minutes late for those of you not big on math. And what's funny? He actually arrived just in time for the break at 6:00. I gave them a 15 minute break, right? Guess who comes back in at 6:45? Bobby. I mean, really. Why bother, dude? He was also nearly an hour late on Thursday and once again made the 15 minute break into a 35 minute break.
So tonight is their big midterm. When he finished, he said to me, "Um, yeah. I don't really know what's going on, since I missed the first week of class. What's with those papers you keep talking about?" I just stared at him. "Didn't you read the syllabus I sent you?" He said no. I was brave Teacher Lady and said as politely as possible. "Why not?" He said, "I didn't see there was an attachment." I believe I wrote in the e-mail, "Attached you will find a copy of the course syllabus and that should explain everything." Maybe he didn't read the e-mail? Maybe he can't read? But see? This is the kind of shit I have absolutely no patience for. None. We have two more class meetings. That's it. Two more and then the final. Don't you think you'd ask your professor for a syllabus if you didn't "notice" one in the e-mail attachment? You wait until the SIXTH class meeting (which is over 50% of the whole entire summer session) to ask what's going on?
Maybe I should not be in one of the "helping" professions. Because if I were a nicer, more patient person, I would not be so exasperated by this crap. Maybe it's because I'm still shocked and surprised with every new instance of student apathy. Maybe it's because I continue to be awestruck by the absolute plethora of ways in which students can fuck up. Really. It boggles the mind. Maybe I'm not so much impatient as easily shocked. Okay. That's what I've decided. That's my problem. I'm easily shocked. Thank you for supporting me in this delusion.