Your Advice, Please
Yesterday was the last day at the advising center. We have officially scheduled 3,700 incoming freshmen. Good news for us; bad news for Wednesday's students. Talk about beggars not being choosers. I was SO tempted to quote Caddyshack about half a dozen times: "You'll get nothing and like it."
I scheduled a young woman who was just adorable. She looked like someone famous, but I couldn't quite place which famous person she resembled. However, what she had in looks, she lacked in manners. She seemed polite enough, until I started actually registering her for classes and she whipped out her phone, turned away from me and started text messaging someone. Of course, every schedule was a chore yesterday - everything decent was closed, filled to overflowing. At one point, I said to young girl, "All of these psychology sections are closed," and she looked up from her text messaging and asked, "Oh. Is that bad?" I understand that classes don't close in high school and this concept is new, so I said, "Well, it just means we'll have to put you in another general education requirement." She looked at me. "Nothing before 11:00, okay?" and went back to text messaging. Interesting. Hasn't yet learned the concept of a closed class, but has grasped the concept of no classes before 11:00. I made the mistake of trying to talk to her, "I'll do my best - I promise, but you and this group of students here are the last 35 freshmen out of 3,700 to register. It's kind of slim pickings." She wasn't listening; she was text messaging. She sat next to me for approximately 15 minutes while I cruised through the university's massive database trying to find what might work out of the dregs. Every 5 minutes or so, she'd look up from her texting and say with a polite smile, "How's my schedule coming along?" What I wanted to do SO badly - so, so badly was say, "Please put down that phone and at least act like you're remotely interested in your educational future." But I said nothing.
Why? Because the woman who runs the advising program is big on customer service and enrollment. "Remember," she says every day, "They don't have to choose us. They might have been accepted by 5 other schools and if they have a bad experience with us, they can always go somewhere else." (Although based on most of the transcripts I've seen the past month, I doubt it.) Or sometimes her daily pep talk is, "No matter how awful they might act, we have to be polite. You're not just representing yourself; you're representing the entire university."
So her speeches ran through the back of my mind as I contemplated saying something to our pretty young thing. And then I thought, "This blows. I'm going to see her in my classroom in two or three years (if she doesn't flunk out which seems a distinct possibility, based on her transcript and her attention span; a gnat has a longer attention span - no offense to gnats) and I'm going to have to explain six times during the first class why she has to put her phone away - 'cause I know she ain't gonna read my "e-policy" on my syllabus.
After she went bouncing out of the advising center, I found myself wishing I had said something, but what? I just felt so, I can't exactly articulate it, maybe, disregarded? Inconsequential? Like the maid in the four-star hotel who people pretend not to see? Have I lost all sense of what decorum means in a "mobile" society? Are there new "rules?" Does it matter that she didn't stop text messaging once since I didn't truly need her to be engaged? After all, there was nothing she could really do - except to remind me about her not being a morning person. Was she being rude? Or am I just being overly sensitive and old, out of touch Teacher Lady? Your thoughts (honest ones), please!