Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why I Drink

 At 2:43, the following email arrived, sans salutation or closing:

"What happened with our class today? The classroom was empty and there were no cancellations."

It took all of my strength of will not to write back,

Dear Dumbfuck,

The calendar clearly indicates that this week is dedicated to face-to-face conferences for the third essay. The note on the classroom whiteboard even says where these conferences take place, as did the sign-up sheet with the available conference times, which has your name written next to the 1:30pm slot for today. If you hadn't been absent most of the last two weeks, you might have caught one of the many reminders I gave in class about the upcoming conferences and the importance of having a decent rough draft so that I can help you pass this class with the minimum "C".
I would like fries. And a medium chocolate shake.
Sincerely,Your Prof who hasn't got time for this shit
But I didn't. I sent a politely-worded reply that reminded him of the circumstances mentioned above.

Then I came home and made a stiff drink.

14 comments:

  1. This was funny to read; not so funny, I know, to live through.

    This is not the first time I feel like you, Burnt Chrome, and I live extremely similar professional lives.

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  2. Whenever something like that happened to me, I found I would have had less hassle if I apologized to the student(s) in question:

    - apologized for having put in the effort to notify them,

    - apologized that I thought they would pay attention,

    - apologized that I assumed they could understand my instructions,

    - apologized for assuming they were responsible adults, and

    - apologized for not only being better-educated than they were but smarter as well (I was their instructor, after all).

    If I didn't apologize, they might have gone whining to my superiors, who would have made sure I suffered for it.

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  3. Many thanks to the RGM for the formatting assist and graphic blandishments. Blogger does not like my iPad, and this was a quick dash-off as my home computer was being used by my offspring for homework.

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    Replies
    1. We've had a few folks with iPads who seem to have a hard time making Blogger work well. Not to worry.

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  4. Sending politely-worded replies to inquiries like this just enables and encourages their lack of attention and their general obliviousness. Apart from the "Dear Dumbfuck" salutation, you should have sent the message you produced for your post.

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    Replies
    1. More than anything, I want to encourage attention and discourage obliviousness -- more than anything except paying the mortgage, the car payment, and my tab at the liquor store. Frankly, and sadly, and miserably, it's down to that for me, which is why my tongue is bloody from biting it.

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    2. Well, it's pretty sad if an email like the one produced by the OP would put your job in jeopardy.

      I'm an adjunct lecturer, with all the (lack of) seniority and job security that the term usually implies, and if I sent an email like the sample in the OP to one of my students (minus the "Dumbfuck" and the fast food comments, of course), my department chair wouldn't blink an eye.

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    3. We agree on the "sad" part, for sure. I suspect that my lack of courage might factor into the matter. My chair might very well back me up if I kept it real, but I don't want to find out the hard way that he's been taken over by the customer-service body snatchers while I wasn't looking. :)

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  5. The thing is, even if you explain, it's still your fault to them.

    I had a student sitting in the wrong classroom because she was an idiot who didn't look at her schedule to see where the class met. She blamed me for not emailing her ahead of time to let her know where class was meeting (this wasn't a change to where we regularly met; this was her simply not looking at her schedule to figure out where we met for class; we hadn't MOVED to a new location or anything).

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    Replies
    1. I once had a student who submitted a lab report which was missing most of the data. I marked it accordingly and returned it.

      A few days later, he stopped by my office, huffing, puffing, and ready to do battle. It was his contention that it was *my* job to ask him why the data wasn't there. He wasn't a freshman--he was halfway through his studies and had lab sessions in earlier courses, so he should have known what to do. If he didn't, he was obligated to ask me.

      In addition, he skipped most of my lectures, showing up only for lab sessions and exams. Of course, it was my fault that he didn't bother attending because I was "boring" or some such thing.

      Unfortunately, I think he managed to pass the course.

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  6. Hi, student here. Why not just ignore the email altogether and continue on with whatever you were doing? I've followed this blog for a long time, and I'm beginning to realize that the "college misery", but only of the non-violent type, is welcomed. And yes, I realize that it's a blog by university employees for university employees.

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    Replies
    1. Honestly? I responded to the student simply because it takes less energy to do so than to ignore the string of emails (or complaints to my dean for my lack of response). When the phrase "doesn't respond to emails" shows up on your student evaluations, or as we like to call them "customer service reports," you end up having to devote even more energy to dealing with them. So this was a pre-emptive way of doing that.

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