Thursday, February 9, 2012

Well, this is at least original.

Dear Professor Ben,

I am sorry that I missed your lecture class today. I was sick and felt that some rest would help me recover from a cold. I understand that my grade will be penalized for my absence. I will get the notes from a classmate. My friend in the class told me that you returned our lab reports today. Besides wanting to apologize, I am contacting you because I was curious if I should come by and pick up my report at your office or should I wait until after Friday's class. Please let me know at your earliest convenience.

Cordial but Clueless Clark


I know what you are thinking: that was the most professional, well written student email you've ever seen and completely snowflake-free. Even the subject line was short and informative. Indeed, it is a beauty. If you find anything wrong with the above email, it's probably my mistake caused by paraphrasing what the student wrote.

There is only one problem. Maybe you can figure it out based on my response.


Dear Clark,

You are not in my class. I hope you feel better soon so that you may attend your classes, none of which I teach.

Professor Ben


I checked his schedule. He is taking a class taught by another professor in my department. That professor is located on a different floor in our building, looks nothing like me (lucky guy) and has a completely different name. How do students this clueless survive to reach adulthood?


  1. Dammit, Ben. Go get his fucking lab report and quit being so obtuse! He's reaching out to you!

    Oh, and buy some damn Bic pens.

    The RGM (Real, Grouchy Moderator)

  2. Ben, if this is the Big Thirsty, then it needs to look a little more like this:

    Q. How do students this clueless survive to reach adulthood?


    Are you feeling ok?

  3. Clearly, he survived only because of his helicopter parents. His future looks...predictable. Can you imagine someone like this in a position of responsibility, on whom large amounts of money or human safety or life depends?

    1. I hate whenever a student springs something "original" on me. I dread what abomination they can possibly come up with next. I won't say "think up next," since they clearly don't do that.

  4. This happens more often than one might think. The last few years, I've averaged one of these per semester. My name isn't common, and often I'm the only one or one of only two people teaching a particular type of course. Sometimes I think they just randomly pick professors to email. And what's worse for me is that with our wonderful new software and the size of my institution, often I have no idea whom they were trying to reach.

  5. That's nothing. I got an e-mail from a student at another university with a two-word name beginning with the same letter as mine, asking why he couldn't log onto the online homework. I gently pointed out to him that XY---- University was not the same as XZ---- University.

    I refrained from pointing out that they are 800 miles apart, since the kid was obviously not a native citizen. Plenty of furriners have no idea how vast this country really is -- Canadians and Russians excepted, who think it's pretty damn tiny.


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