Reading Raul’s post made me think about something that has been bothering me all weekend and it’s related to something I almost posted about a few weeks ago.
On Thursday or Friday of last week I received an email from a former student requesting a letter of recommendation for something or another. I honestly have no idea what it’s for because Verne neglected to put that in his email. The email right above his was an email from the organization with a link to follow. Of course, this organization expects the letter writers to have some idea who they are so they don’t tell you what it’s all about. I could pull out my mean research skills and Google it but I haven’t yet so maybe I won’t. I just don’t know.
The deadline to write this thing is tomorrow. So I have time to procrastinate. But I’m really having trouble getting into a positive frame of mind about this student. I’ll lift it up to God after lunch but for now I’ll tell y’all my miseries. We’ll start with the moderately annoying and go from there.
If you haven’t figured it out yet I’m a chick who teaches in a math intensive field which makes me feel like a mathematician sometimes. Perhaps it’s because I publish in as many of their journals as my own. As you might have guessed my real name isn’t actually Crazy Math Professor. CMP is my alter ego. CMP is a ballsier version of me. CMP wouldn’t have the problem I’m about to tell y’all about.
Many of my students don’t address me properly. I prefer Dr. CMP but Prof. CMP would work as well. When I put my info on my syllabus I write Dr. Crazy M. Professor. When I sign my emails I write Dr. Professor. The signature on my email is Dr. Crazy M. Professor. When I talk about myself in class (that sounds worse than it really is) I call myself Dr. Professor. But I still have students who address me as Mrs. Professor. That’s not ever technically correct. Mrs. Professor is my mother. I am Mrs. Crazy Math Spouse but not Mrs. Crazy Math Professor. You see I accomplished a bit before I got my MRS. I earned three degrees, published papers, and got a tenure-track job. Crazy Math Spouse and I got married after all of this. So I didn’t like the idea of losing my last name and thus eight years of academic history. Sometimes I regret this since my kids’ friends may one day think I’m Crazy Math Stepmom. Oh, well….
Now back to Verne. Verne’s email started off with addressing me as Dr. CMP. That’s cool. I’m glad he’s learned since we last had class together. But then at the end he writes “thanks, Mrs. Professor” (what’s my mom got to do with this!). Ugh. Well, I’m an adult. I can get over it. That’s what being a grown-up is about.
Next I read the email from organization. Of course, it was addressed incorrectly as well. But it’s not what you think. You see the name Crazy was one of the most popular girl’s names in the two decades around my birth. There were no fewer than 5 Crazys (or would it be Crazies?) in the Fourth Grade at my school. The email was addressed to Sane Math Professor. Now Sane is not a name that has been popular since 1938. Over my entire life, I’ve known two Sanes. Both of these women are now in their sixties. So it seems that although Verne knows my email username (cprofessor) he hasn’t a clue that the “c” indicates my name would start with a “c” as opposed to an “s”. And if he wrote the email followed by my “name” it didn’t occur to him that something was weird and he should double check the department website, course schedule, an old syllabus, the college catalog, or any of the other myriad of university resources with my name on it. No. He’s applying near the deadline. Details are unimportant.
Before last week the last time I heard from Verne was just after I submitted the grades for the most recent class in which he was enrolled. You see Verne had earned a 91.something% in the course. He’d missed an A by a few tenths of a percent. When a student is in that position I look at their final exam score and office hours attendance to see if there is any reason to bump the grade. This is the only kind of curve I ever do. Verne had come to office hours once or twice and had a decent final exam score so after a lot of thought I decided to bump him up. Then he sends a snotty email (to Mrs. Professor) about how he’s an A student and I should bump him. I was pissed! I thought long and hard about what to do. I really wanted to change his grade to a B since snotty students deserve no breaks from me. After a few days of ruminating I decided that by changing the grade to a B I would be basing his grade off of my feelings for him rather than his performance in the class. I knew this was wrong so I didn’t do it. (But CMP would have so I felt some vindication). Once grades were posted Verne didn’t even bother to drop a thank you email.
So this is going to be a hard letter of recommendation to write. I should have immediately responded to the email with a stern “This is too short of notice and I don’t have time to do it.” That, of course, would have been a half lie since I have plenty of time to write this post. Unlike CMP, I’d rather procrastinate and be pissed then actually have the courage to write an email stating how I really feel. So I’ll let CMP do it for me on CM.
I am very busy woman and I don’t have the time this week or next to write a letter for you. Recommendation requests should be sent several weeks in advance so that your letter writers can gather their thoughts about you and clear more than 10 minutes in their schedule to write a well written letter for you. Further, I’d rather not recommend you for anything since I think you are a snot. I felt angry and offended when you insisted I give you an A when you had earned a B. You also don’t give a sh!t about others. You see I’m not “Mrs. Professor.” I’m “Dr. Professor.” It was on your syllabus, every email I ever sent to the class, and was mentioned in class pretty much weekly. If you gave a sh!t about other people you’d have taken to addressing me as Dr. CMP in the first few weeks of our first course together. I can’t imagine that any organization would be interested being associated with an ungrateful, snotty, self-centered person such as you. I’m very sorry I will be unable to accommodate your last minute request.