Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Miserable Tale of Al Gorge

I'm sorry. I'm sorry for submitting content back to back. I know it seems needy of me. The explanation is very simple: I'm needy. But in all honesty, something so magically horrific happened today that I simply had to share.

It's a class in a basement. It's frequented by Li'l Eddie. Li'l Eddie is a mouse with a personality (he steals pens and pencils from students; video documented) and he's our de facto University mascot.

It's a Global Hamsters Policy class.

One day Al Gorge
figures it out.
Today was our fifth class. The very last day of the Add/Drop period. We were all so innocent. So unwittingly close to safety. But evil had one last card to play. On this last day of Add/Drops, a new student arrived for class. I'll call him... Al Gorge. He was not small in any of our three dimensions or, indeed, any dimension at all.

But that's not what really caught our attention. He was a loudmouth asshole. He would interject his loud commentary while the professor (who is beloved by all) was talking. It went ignored. He would talk loudly to the young lady next to him who, for her part, VERY obviously wanted nothing to do with him.

So he was loud and kind of inconsiderate. That's nothing special, right? Certainly nothing new. You're probably wondering why this is noteworthy. Around... halfway through class the professor was lecturing in that sort of tone that says "Why, yes, this WILL be on the exam." and a gentleman approached the doorway of our classroom laden with brown paper packages.

I was confused. But in just a few moments my confusion would go through puberty and mature into absolute bafflement. Al Gorge held up his hand, somewhere between asking a question and a 1940 German greeting. He was getting the Professor's attention, but not to seek his answer or approval for a request.

"Excuse me, Professor, hang on just a moment please."

He got out of his chair, all eyes upon him. He walked eagerly over to the gentleman at the door... and started handing him money. He got the packages and returned to his seat and then fucking told the professor, while smiling, "Thanks, go ahead."

He begins digging into a large hot steak sandwich, slices (plural) of pizza, and cheese fries. With ketchup on all of those things, including the pizza. He makes a noise as he's going to bite. Not even when he has food in his mouth (though he assuredly makes noise then as well) but while he has NO food in his mouth and is just making his overture to bite into the food. Ketchup is getting everywhere. Sometimes he says "Oops" and chuckles when he sees a splotch hit the table, the floor, or the innocent bystanders around him.

Throughout this entire process, from standing up to starting to eat, we are speechless. Every single other person in the class is like a deer in headlights. My friend since childhood leans over and whispers to me "This can't be real. This is a dream or a movie or something."

The professor is dumbfounded and is taking a while to recover. A girl sitting behind me quietly whispers "Why are you doing this?" as if pleading with some sort of ethereal monster to cease tormenting her.

I don't know what baffles me more. The fact that he's so oblivious or the fact that he somehow got food through security and had it delivered to his classroom. It's like he's some sort of evil sorcerer with magical powers granting him the ability to induce rage and nausea. He had food delivered to his classroom. And he fucking paused our Professor like the lecture we were watching is fucking Tivo.

I could tell immediately that We hated him. I capitalize "We" because it's not a royal we but a sort of democratic "We" meaning society. When he came in and was all loud and obnoxious, fine. We were the Confederated States of Well He's Annoying. But in the two-three minutes that he paused our Professor, got food, and proceeded to get it everywhere we signed and ratified our Constitution and became the United States of Fuck This Guy.

The Professor eventually opted to not address it and just move on, albeit with a renewed sense of horror and wonder, with the lecture.

This was just the first day with a student that I could only describe as... Cthulhu. Or something. Jesus, take the wheel.


Conan the Grammarian

35 comments:

  1. That's bad, but with Chekhov's Mouse up there at the beginning of your story I expected it to end much more horribly than it did. I can sleep well knowing that Li'l Eddie is okay.

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    1. Several attempts have been made at hiring an exterminator to get rid of Li'l Eddie over the past year and a half or so that he's been here. They have been blocked by student protests.

      Unconfirmed sources have seen him with another mouse. So we're kind of hoping he has a family. (This is how horrible infestations start, I'm sure)

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    2. If you say in the first chapter that there is a mouse hanging out in the room, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off.

      But What Happened to the Mouse?

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    3. I, too, came down to the comments to say something about Chekhov and mice (but had not come up with anything as clever as Chekhov's mouse). In any case, I was relieved that the mouse(trap) did not go off by the end of the piece. And yes, he will probably have a family of impressive size in short order.

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  2. Just strange, that the professor did not address this. I have a version of "no food will be eaten in class" in my syllabus. I'd have asked him to leave, and if he refused, security would have backed me up when I called to have him physically removed.

    But then, I teach at an inner city community college, and things like this have to be negotiated at the outset because so many arrive here with no idea how to behave.

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    1. I had a professor whose rule was "eat or drink whatever you want, as long as it doesn't make any noise" (so we had to open our soda cans before she started lecturing). I've also heard of people with "eat whatever you want as long as I can't smell it" rules. (I've been tempted by that one, as the students who bring hot lunches always seemed to sit in the front row)

      Either of those would be applicable. As would the general "no disruptions" rule.

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    2. Technically speaking we are not supposed to eat any food that is not solid fruit (so no sliced or cubed fruit). I was under the impression that it was just an administrative rule until last year when the dean informed me that it was a requirement placed on the donation by whomever that we treat the building nicely for the first seven years. And that was one of his requirements.

      It is not obeyed even slightly, as we've seen.

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    3. hell, I bring in my own morning caffeine. My rule is "no noise, no mess, no smell, no trash left behind"

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  3. Bella, I would have talked to (yelled at) security for letting a food delivery get past them at least. And I think what you're saying is the resolution everyone in the class wanted.

    The professor is a good one, but he's not very quick on his feet and it seems like he kind of wants to be liked. So the method he appears to opt for is addressing behavior with students via email after the class.

    I honestly don't know what's going to happen next class. It could be anything. But we are stuck with him now and he DOES need to pass this class to graduate. So while we can't get rid of them, the professor has considerable leverage.

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  4. Jeebus. Are you sure it wasn't some sort of bizarre performance art?

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  5. Wow, this is horrifying . . . but your write-up is brilliant. Kudos.

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  6. Such a well-told story that walks the cringe-inducing line between disgusting and hilarious. I have a syllabus rule that permits only food you would bring to a professional meeting, and I give a few examples on the first day.

    I was hoping the denouement would be the mouse soaring out of the wall to grab a pizza crust and peace. We can dream!

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    1. Thank you. The more enraged I am, the more eloquent I become.

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  7. Shit, that was funny. Thanks, Conan. Don't worry, we're all needy.

    As usual, Fast Times at Ridgemont High provides a good tutorial for dealing with a problem in class.

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    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6J8__fWphE0

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  8. Ho. Lee. Crap. Dude would have been out on his ass in my world. If the douchy dude keeps it up--a virtual certainty--talk to the prof outside of class and get this stopped. He'll be ruining YOUR education. Eff that chump.

    The Gog

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  9. If the instructor is afraid to do anything, then maybe there is an indicator of shitty leadership in hir department?

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  10. I think part of the issue is that this occurred on a scope that the professor had never before seen. I don't want to exaggerate so I'll use a very conservative analogy.

    This would be like kindergarten. If a kid hits another kid the teacher knows precisely how to respond. But if one of the children plans to destroy the 9/11 memorial what the hell do you do? Put them in time out.

    This guy is essentially a terrorist. What is our professor going to do about Osama Bin Laden?

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    1. He's just a poor little professor. What could he do to stop this fucking monstrosity? This guy is worse than all of the Captain Planer villains, Dracula, and Cthulhu combined. We need an army led by Van Helsing and Good Hitler from a parallel universe to beat him.

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    2. Hey, now! Nothin' wrong with Cthulhu. Unless he doesn't eat me first.

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  11. So, if being needy means writing somthing like this that spurs this much conversation, I'm thinking I need to be more needy.

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  12. I have my second class with this Lovecraftian monster later today.

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  13. Heh. I cannot spell nor can I pronounce: Cthulhu. Sounds like one crazy-assed student, tho!

    The Gog

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  14. @Gog: Well, according to Lovecraft if you COULD read it, you would go insane.

    Also, my class just ended. It was eventful. Probably try to get something typed up tonight. I feel like you all need closure.

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  15. Too stereotypical to NOT be a set up by the (or some other) instructor.
    "Global Hamster Policy"- If I recall correctly, you are a Human Resources major. How would you reprimand/counsel/approach an employee that exhibited this behavior?
    How would you counsel co-workers who brought this behavior to your attention?
    Or it could be a legitimate situation.
    I'm waiting for the payoff, either way.

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    1. In order:

      1: You thought this was stereotypical? I thought it was like witnessing a whole new kind of monster.

      2: Impressed you remembered my major.

      3: If an employee exhibited this behavior (ordering food during a meeting) I would recommend that their employment be terminated. Because they're not just a bad employee, they're some sort of Hell spawn.

      4: I would counsel co-workers that his life be terminated.

      5: There was a payoff and a satisfying resolution. It wasn't some kind of "teachable moment", though. This ain't The Andy Griffith Show. The problems aren't all solved at the end of the episode. But there's definitely a sort of "Alright, the good guys won. Civilization gets to continue to exist." feeling from today's class.

      I'll try to write it up tonight or tomorrow because it is, in and of itself, a worthy post.

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  16. It struck me as a bit theatrical. By stereotypical I meant, "So very over-the-top, beyond the pale, blatantly egregious conglomeration of all things that-should-not-be yet cannot be ignored."
    A character from an '80s teen comedy, if you will.

    I look forward to the follow-up.

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    1. In what is perhaps an interesting coincidence, the RGM has chosen a flashback post for the sidebar that also deals with a stereotypical student behavior. The comments address the stereotypicality in an alternatively stereotypical way.

      Sometimes it is amusing to play BINGO with oft-seen behaviors. Surely Al Gorge manifested enough that someone would have won the kitty.

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    2. I don't know why I was reminded of this, but I had a friend in high school whose sense of humor was even darker than mine. He had leukemia, we thought he beat it, we were wrong, he died after my Senior year.

      He had a penchant for trying new things. He would always drag me to new shit. One time I asked him "PJ, why the hell do you never do the same thing twice?"

      And he said "There are infinite things to do in life. Why would you EVER do the same thing twice if you didn't have to?"

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  17. Replies
    1. Submitted. Though it's not up to my usual writing standards.

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    2. Maybe only use American words and not those crummy British ones, then?

      I am, of course, kidding, but I know a guy who is chronically under-employed (and has a hell of a time getting references) who loves the same kind of joke you made in a previous comment. His throwaway lines have cost him so much and he can't seem to figure it out.

      Mentioning it because you write like someone who wants to do well for his / herself.

      You're hopefully more self-aware than my mate is. His real life character is so much like your online persona.

      To quote Guy Kay: You took him for what he was, which was not inconsiderable, and tried to keep private the inward lament for how much more he might have been.

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    3. I appreciate the sentiment. My real life persona is nothing like my online persona. To be precise, even my College Misery persona is very different from my normal online persona.

      And if you're talking about the self-esteem thing, you know it was funny.

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    4. And I'll be sure to pepper my next post with plenty of "thee"'s and "thou"'s and if someone is going somewhere I'll say they "hie'd".

      I do like how people think "thee" and "thou" is formal because in plays and what-not Kings always spoke that way. No, "thee" and "thou" are INFORMAL. And the King talks like that because EVERYONE'S shit compared to the King.

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