The way your head hangs down in defeat, anyone can tell something is wrong. The way you drag yourself into my office and thump yourself down, as if the anticipatory weight of an F is too heavy to negotiate gravity, I feel empathy. I really do. And then the way you open your mouth and the despair in your voice hits me:
"My computer died at 4 a.m. when I started my paper last night. I was halfway through and now I have to recreate it. I mean, how am I supposed to rewrite a whole paper? I was almost done! I was just going to submit it before class and then it died when I hit "submit." I have to pass this class! My mother will kill me if I don't pass. I have to get an A in this class. I know I've missed a few classes, but not really important ones. I've always been there for the important ones."
The whine in your voice: oh, it's at just the right resonance, and your pleading eyes ask me to fix your problems: all of them, including the inconsistencies in your story: when, exactly, did your computer die? And is it that you just need to pass, or is it that you need an A? And does it matter, since the paper was due two weeks ago?
You claim to be trying your hardest to be a good student and that this is the FIRST time someone has ever told you that you need to do more than skip class and skip assignments to pass a class. "I am an A student," you say with an indignant expression. You act shocked when I tell you that you've missed 78% of the in-class assignments. "How is this possible?" your "shocked" open mouth screams your ignorance to me. Well, given that you've missed that many classes, it is entirely possible. "But I'm a good student," you protest. And you seem to believe it, except for that slight shift in your expression when I ask if you've ever struggled with getting to class on time, or if you've ever had to repeat a course before.
You're putting on a good act. I can tell you have some practice at this. If I hadn't seen you working on the same computer that you claimed had died right before you wandered into my office, I would probably have more sympathy. Plus, the paper was due two weeks ago and I don't accept late work. Your attempt to garner sympathy is not likely to do more than annoy me.
And sweetheart, I won't say this to your face, because it's patronizing, but you still have some living to do. The act you're putting on may work on your matricidal parent, but if you're going to come in with your dog-and-pony show, you've got to be more convincing in your pathetic plea. You don't do the work in class, and your act right now isn't cutting it, either. I can only hope you're good at whatever you're majoring in, because this act isn't helping you in my class.
A quick lesson in acting: all quarter, you have had no idea that I'd rather be biting down on my electric toothbrush that clatters against my teeth than listening to you justify your failure. You've had no idea that every time when you've come to whine about the quizzes you've missed, or the textbook you forgot to read, or the, paper that was just impossible to complete, or now, the computer that broke or didn't break, I've wanted to simply walk away from you and leave you talking to yourself. You've had no idea that, if given a choice, I would block you from ever taking a class from me again. So in the world of acting, the Oscar goes to me for the emotional labor enacted simply to deal with snowflakes like you in a gracious manner.
Go away and leave me alone to regain energy for the next person to walk in here asking " if there's anything I can do to pass the class."