Category Archives: grumpiness

Whatever happened to me?

Not much. Same old, same old, which I guess is an explanation. Last semester, I had a lot of students, and they were pretty much the usual, and yeah. Let me catch you up.

Remember Neddy? He turned up in one of my colleagues classes, which I managed to find out by accident. I could not resist asking about how he had been, to which she replied “he is very keen, and he asks good questions, and he persists until he gets the answer”. Anything about crazy shit he says in class? Nope. Anything about how he can’t string an idea into a paragraph? Again, nope. “Of course,” she says, “he does have accommodations for his learning disability”. Nice that things are working out for him, and I get a fist pump for knowing it wasn’t just me.

Last semester I tried out some new technology in the classroom, and this caused a crazy-ass student who was doing badly to report me to all kinds of authorities. The logical fallacy here was that her disliking my method of taking attendance had anything to do with her inability to think. Lest you accuse me of harshness, I will illustrate by the following example: when asked the most interesting thing about herself, said student responded “I went on holiday to Mexico.” ORLY. Did you encounter Mexican culture and thus broaden your mind? “No, we stayed at a resort. She then dropped the class, because I was “teaching it at the wrong level”.

This semester we have an exciting new agreement about hiring that means I now get yelled at by a committee when my student evaluations aren’t high enough. Evaluations are being taken MOAR seriously. I need to work harder to get good evaluations. I have to take this seriously. Except, fuck me, I find it hard to take seriously the comments of jerkwads, snowflakes and dickholes who use the evaluations as a platform to complain about general curriculum requirements over which I have no control, my personal appearance, my accent, and the fact that they were stupid enough to voluntarily sign up for an 8am class that they find “too early”.

This brings us to the present. It’s Reading Week. All of my classes were supposed to give me essay proposals last week, so that they could be working on their essays this week. My amazing Children’s Lit class (srsly, this class is made up of geniuses, eg the guy who wrote an essay arguing that Hop on Pop teaches kids important science facts like Newton’s 3rd Law, which it totally does, just think about it) all had proposals in hand which they showed me on the designated day. The point of the exercise was for me to tweak them a little where needed, give suggestions and send them off. Mission accomplished.

In all the other classes, very few students remembered or bothered to do this. The instructions to all the classes were the same, except, no, I lie, I don’t think I reminded the Good Class. So I’ve had a few emails about it. Well, I’ve had a few emails from a few students, and 25 from this one guy. I am beginning to suspect he doesn’t want to write the essay. Because he suggests a topic, and I say “yes” or “no” or “this would work if you narrowed it down to x”. And then he sends a new email with a new topic. JUST PICK A FUCKING TOPIC, ALREADY, I wish to cry. But no, this dipshit gets to evaluate me, so I have to be responsive to his needs.

So, I’m back. Thanks to everyone who in any way nagged me or reminded me that I have a blog, and a special shoutout to Sarcastic Bastard, who really needs to write a guest post about teaching creative writing in drag.

A New Low.


I know, I have been complaining all semester about the students in my online writing class. They are the laziest students I have ever had. Earlier in the semester I had it out with them about how my class was “too much work”. Because, you see, we only meet once a week, and then I give them online tasks to do to make up the other class time. These onerous tasks, this week, include watching a 15 minute TED talk, and reading some posts on Icanhascheezburger. These things, I am informed “take too much time”. When I asked for clarification, saying “So you’re telling me that you are spending more than 5 hours a week doing this stuff?” the room went strangely quiet.

Their research papers SUCKED; they were under-researched (in some cases non-researched), and in most cases lacked any kind of argument, discussion, thought or spelling.

Since this is a course in online communication, I designed a group assignment for them to do that involved trying to get content to an audience using the internet. They were allowed to design their own message and figure out how to get it to their audience using any number of methods, as long as some of the things they did used the internet or social media. The idea was to get them learning by doing, since so many snowflakes, and this group in particular, have so much trouble learning by reading information.

It felt a bit like kindergarten, the online equivalent of asking for plasticine sculptures, but it’s a Gen Ed class, and I am supposed to be experimenting with different learning methods. Plus, as I said, LAZY ASSHOLES.

So, they had 3 weeks to get their shit together, and I even gave them class time to work on it. A couple of groups had decent ideas, and worked to implement them, and actually got reasonable audiences given the time frame, although no one had anything like a stunning success.

The other part of the assignment, naturally, was for them to write a report on what they learned from the experience. I gave them guideline questions, but left a fair amount of the decisions about HOW they wrote it up to them.

So, this was worth 15% of their grade for the course, and at least 3 groups handed in reports that said, “We asked 20 people we knew on Facebook to join our group and 6 joined, so we think this is a success.”

That was it. I shit you not.

I am thinking about buying a cattle prod.

Potpourri of ventage.

Okay, so it’s, like, Week 4 of semester. Here are some things that are happening.

This guy comes to my class and spends the first 5 minutes ostentatiously unwrapping his textbook from the shrinkwrap it comes in at the bookstore. Then he picks the wrong volume, despite the kind attempts of the student sitting opposite him to show him that he’s looking at the wrong book. A couple days later he comes to see me about the essay that is due the following day. I mention that I couldn’t help but notice he hasn’t done any reading, and it is WEEK FOUR, and maybe he’s fallen a bit behind. Well, he’s busy with work, donchaknow. I suggest that maybe he cut his losses and drop, but he’s not willing to do that yet. He thinks he can catch up. Can I help him with his essay? Oh, sure, what the hell. What is he writing it on? He doesn’t know. He hasn’t done any reading. So, he wanders off, I bang my head on the desk, and then he fails to come to the next class, and doesn’t, therefore, hand in a paper.

The majority of students in my online class continue to suck the balls of the donkey. It’s WEEK FOUR, and one of them wanders up to me in class and lets me know he still hasn’t figured out how to log in to the courseware.

I make a tutorial that consists of a flickr slideshow of screenshots with writing on them (and you know my paint skills are top notch) to help the students who are having trouble with the courseware. I offer bonus marks for students who comment on the tutorial. There are at least a dozen students who don’t watch the tutorial, and who still need help with the courseware. I suggest that they watch the tutorial, but they can’t figure out how. Seriously. Clicking a link is WAY TOO TECHNICAL for these people.

I get tricked into sharing my tutorial with one of those slug-like beings from academic support  about whom I complained earlier. His response is to ask me how I made the screenshots, to which I reply, “by taking screenshots and writing on them using GIMP.” He responds by linking me to a program that can do what I already did. I CAN ALREADY DO IT. I DO NOT NEED YOUR PROGRAM. When I express this sentiment, he suggests that we meet to discuss it. I am tempted accept the invitation and meet with him carrying some kind of sharp implement, but manage to restrain myself.

I have a student who is worried she is failing and can I tell her her grade. It’s WEEK FOUR. Your first assignment isn’t even due until tomorrow. There is no grade yet.

I have a student who has been mad at me ever since she told me she was missing the first 2 weeks of class and I said that I thought that was a bad idea. She sends me emails complaining that I don’t do things like her other teachers do, and that she continues to be unhappy with my attitude and behaviour. I have offended her at least 3 times, apparently. Once by saying I think attendance is important; once because I didn’t comply with her request that I “stay after class to discuss my attitude and behaviour”; most recently because when I clarified for the whole class my expectations on participation, she got into an argument with me over email about whether a week from Thursday to Thursday includes a weekend. (Apparently, it doesn’t, and I am foolish to persist in my belief that it does.)

I have a student who wants to write her essay on internet crime, and stuff. I suggest that she needs to narrow her topic down, since “internet crime” is a bit too broad, and she writes back: “I just want to look at child porn.” I laugh for 3 days.

In which I fail to be developed, professionally.

I am about to shock you, readers; brace yourselves.

I got into a heated discussion, nay, an argument the other day. I KNOW! You are bewildered as to how such a thing could have come about. Let me lay the details on you.

Against my better judgment, I decided to go to a professional development seminar. I am sure you are aware –  in fact, you probably have encountered these weaksauce assholes at your own institution – that universities have a special little corner they shove the least able teachers, who have tenure, but can’t possibly be let in front of students: this is often called the Academic Development or Faculty Development Department/Unit/Centre. (In my experience, the universities that have a “Centre” have much the worst development staff.)

The faculty in these places have fuck-all to do, and often try to schedule meetings with people who are doing actual work like teaching and developing courses. The couple of weeks before and after semester see them crawling out from under their rocks and spamming invitations to encounter groups, and development round-tables, and all manner of bullshit time-wasting exercises. Most of them, you get one sniff of and sensibly decline to attend. Occasionally, though, they target you with a cunningly-named event targeted at something that appears relevant to your interests. You think “this sounds like it might actually be useful”. Of course it isn’t going to be, but guilt at the number of these invites you have ignored, and the spectre of the Chair asking what professional development activities you have attended this year start to niggle at you, and so you end up going.

It becomes apparent within 5 minutes that this is bullshit. I went to an online teaching seminar, and most of the other people there appeared to be unfamiliar with computers, and had fucking PAPER AND PENCIL with which to take notes. Goddammit.

I enlivened the proceedings by betting with myself how long it would be before I said something that would prompt the PD sloths “leading” the seminar to tell me I should be running it. They are all sycophants who are full of politically correct mantras about every contribution being worthy, and how you should always give feedback that reflects the questioner’s question back at him or her, so it hardly ever takes long, if you aren’t some kind of snivelling social retard. This time it took 35 minutes. Not a personal best, by any stretch.

It became increasingly apparent that what this session had been designed as a lengthy infomercial for Blackboard, and I tolerated that for about 5 minutes before I started grinding my teeth. Most of the infomercial was all about how you can get Blackboard to automagically count student posts on Blackboard forums as graded participation. Really! Blackboard can automate this for you, making the process of massaging snowflake egos that their every little verbal burp has meaning and worth! It only takes one click!

Luckily for me, some of the other victims of this scam started meeping about their misgivings about some aspects of Blackboard, which opening I quickly grabbed in order to talk about the alternatives. One of my major issues with Blackboard is that it really is an arcanely complicated electronic gradebook, and its focus is the prof and how he/she is going to produce the grades. (There are SO many things wrong with that, it just makes me foam at the mouth, but let me reel this in just a touch.)

Squeezing into the opening provided by someone who students are frustrated by having to recreate their profile in Blackboard for EVERY SINGLE course they take, I mentioned the portfolio software I (and a few others) have been using for the last few semesters, which has, as one of its advantages, the fact that students keep their portfolios from semester to semester. Since this software is sanctioned by the Learning PodPeople, some discussion of it was allowable, but then I pushed the envelope by mentioning that I was intending to teach with twitter, and possibly Google Wave (if it still exists in a week).

This caused consternation. Why? Well, because unlike Blackboard, none of these alternative methods would give students constant 24/7 access to their grades.

This is where the arguing thing got going.

“I don’t want students to have 24/7 access to some arbitrary numerical score,” I opined.

This was countered with the infuriating “But it makes them more comfortable” argument.

Okay, apart from me not really caring what makes my students comfortable, at least in opposition to what I think is pedagogically good for them, I think this is a crock. The argument is that if students know their numerical grades, they will understand what this means in terms of a final grade for the course.

COME ON. We all know at least a dozen examples where this is is not true. Students who know they have 79% come in begging for that one extra mark; students who know numerically that they are failing believe in the power of prayer; students who have poor math skills are startled by Cs at the end of semester. A couple of semesters ago, when I took over a class for a colleague, I had a student who was sure she was getting a B, despite having no grade higher than a B- all semester. Having the marks accessible is no anodyne against student delusion.

My other objection here is more philosophical. I don’t believe in giving grades without context. That is, I think students should see a grade on a paper next to a substantial number of comments about what was good and bad about their work. Maybe I’m deluded, but I want them to learn from the process, and not just be fixated on the number, or the letter.

I expressed these opinions to the Professional Development Chooks, who were still bok boking about how I could use the gradebook in Blackboard, even if I wasn’t using Blackboard for any other purpose (I know, WTF). “No.” I said. “I don’t play that game.”

This resulted, not in a spirited debate about grading, which might have been useful, or at least interesting, but in an immediate backdown. “We didn’t mean to suggest that any of your methods were WRONG,” they chanted, resorting to their mantra. “Whatever you feel comfortable doing is fine.”

This is exactly why these teaching support people suck the balls of the donkey. They are so fixated on politically correct educational theory that focusses on massaging egos and being careful of professorial self of steam that they will never offer cogent or practical advice that isn’t so obvious it is useless. “Face the class while lecturing.” Even in extreme cases of stupidity or contrariness, they won’t really give advice. “It might be an idea to put pants on when you go to class, but only if it doesn’t cramp your style.”

Looking at it glass half full, I only wasted 90 minutes, and bothering to go on to campus meant that I lucked into FREE BEER at the Dean’s reception, which hilarity I described on College Misery.

Phoning it in.

So, I am teaching a Spring class, and we are about halfway through, and there is one student who is not doing well. Most of them are motivated keeners who are asking how to make their B+ an A, but this one guy is just not engage. You know, comes to class with his iPod in, can’t always be bothered to take it out, never contributes to discussion, hands in half-assed work days late, that kind of thing.

Last night I had the chance to chat to him, and I said “I am a little concerned that you are not really engaged in this class, and that’s going to be reflected in your grade. Are you okay with getting a C-/D+?”

His answer was “I am in theatre performance so I don’t see the point of any academic class, and I am fine with just passing.” Then he offered to pretend to care. Because, you know, acting.

There are a ton of things I could get worked up about over this little exchange, and I did kind of gesture at this by saying to him, “are you so sure there’s nothing of value being offered in this classroom?”And it vaguely crossed my mind to suggest that if, in the unlikely event that the the whole acting thing didn’t pan out, he might want some literacy skills to fall back on.

But then I thought, I have 20 people in this class who care about how they do, and who want to learn, why expend any effort on this guy who doesn’t give two shits.

Which is freeing and depressing both at the same time.

Don’t believe what you read.

In my infinite and devious wisdom, I made up an assignment that tests, sorry, ENCOURAGES and DEVELOPS students’ abilities to assess what they read online.

It includes a number of traps for heffalumps, such as directing them to a site which expresses an opinion that they probably agree with is credible when it has no sources. It asks if a badly designed, ugly website is credible, and if the think the Nation is transparent about its sources and authors.

One of the basic traps is one labelled “Is expressing an opinion you disagree with the same as not being a credible source?” It is distressing, but no longer amazing to me how many of them tumble in. “Kate Harding is a feminist, so she cannot be a credible source.” AUGH. “Naomi Klein does not like capitalism, so she might have misreported her interview with Michael Moore.” (This even though you can CLICK to listen to the full audio of the interview.) Kill me now.

My concern here is how much they are relying on the google to find them information, bypassing gatekeepers like librarians and peer-reviewers in journals. I know this seems topsy-turvy, but I try to explain that going through a database where you can check the box for “Peer-reviewed only” is a much more efficient way of evaluating information than going to google, finding some random site, and then trying to figure out, say, who the heck Juan Cole is.

Of course, trying to figure it out is the first step in becoming a critical thinker, so if they actually did that, I would be reasonably happy. In this current group, however, I have FIVE students who told me, unequivocally, that has no information about Chomsky.

Seriously? That site should totally be taken down for false advertising, then. One guy, a little smarter and a whole lot more arrogant than the others, went to wikipedia for what must have been 5 seconds and concluded that Chomsky was a “philosopher of sorts”.

Would any of them use any writing by Chomsky in an essay? Of course not, and not for the obvious reason that it is unlikely they could understand one word in three of what he says. It’s because he is an ANARCHIST, and that makes him unreliable.

Fox News, on the other hand, is totally fine, because it says right there on the website that it is “fair and balanced”.

In which I plot revenge against slackers.

Okay, so this semester I am teaching Children’s Literature, a class for which the reading is, to put it extremely mildly, “light”. FFS, one of the goddam books on the motherfucking reading list is Flotsam, which doesn’t even have any words.

Naturally, this poses some challenge to slackers because the reading can actually often be done in the 10 minutes per week they appear to allocate for it. This week, however, we were doing the kickass awesome novel by Kate DiCamillo, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, which, if you have a child and have not read it, you must immediately go and get, and even if you don’t have a kid, you should still read it. I wasn’t sure about this book, but my spawn and her teacher raved about it, so I read it, and they were not wrong.

(Slight aside here to say that I have childhood trauma from the Velveteen Rabbit, and so any book that has even a teeny tiny Velveteen Rabbit vibe is a book I will not normally go near for any money, and the words “toy rabbit gets lost” really did make me hugely hesitant. However, this book is the book the Velveteen Rabbit should have been, so much so, that it may have eased my pain.)

Anyway, to return to my despicable slackers, none of these assholes had bothered to read the book, like even cracked it open, even though it would have taken the slowest of them no more than 3-4 hours to read. “Fine,” I said. “We were going to discuss it today, but I shall just make it the topic of the essay portion of the exam.” Take that, slack-jawed yokels.

I am not going to give them easy questions, either. The questions will contain words of many syllables, require examples from the text, or may simply be cryptic. For one of them, I am thinking of going with “Why a warthog?” Feel free to add suggestions of utter meanness in the comments.

So, that half of the class was a wash. The other thing I had planned was a peer review of their drafts of their final projects – which was writing a children’s story. I had said, several times, that they needed a draft of their words, so we could talk about age-appropriate vocab and similar. “Don’t worry about pictures, but you must have your text”. Yes, yes.

So how many of them had a draft? Oh, you know, half a dozen. The rest of them were desperately scribbling any old bullshit while I looked at the drafts by the people who had thrown 15 minutes at the task. But hey, guess what? It was worth actual MARKS. Quite aside from the fact that getting help with the draft might help with the finished product … OMG who am I kidding?

I gave a bunch of them zero, which felt quite awesome.

Bow down to the King of Flakes.

Hang on to your hats, I am about to go ballistic.

To begin at the beginning: this semester I am teaching Children’s Literature, which is a course not without its problems, said problems often involving having to hammer info into the heads of those destined to be kindergarten teachers. This semester, instead of a bunch of delicate little kindergarten teacher types, my class is made up of monumental slackers.

How do I know? Well, they don’t come to class, and they are having trouble handing work in on time. Pshaw, I hear you say. That seems par for the course. Let me elaborate. These people are such slackers that the girl who turned up stoned to the exam last semester, who is in this class, is one of the more exemplary students.

Want more evidence? A couple weeks ago, their first assignment was due. The following class, I returned the assignment to those who had handed it in (about a third of the class). A couple others handed in their work that class, which meant it was 2 days late. At the next class, a week later, a couple more straggled in. I pointed out that the majority of students were still out to lunch on Assignment 1, and now, Assignment 2 was also due.

At this point, a guy in the class, hereby christened the King of Flakes, put his hand up and asked, “When is the last possible day to hand in the assignment?” WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF QUESTION IS THAT, ANYWAY? I mean, quite apart from the fact that they have a course outline that says “work handed in more than 7 days late will not be marked,” which is actually the answer to his question, what the FUCK kind of question IS that?

So that was the first couple of weeks of class. Sensing the mood of these dumbasses, and knowing that this week, I was kicking it up a notch by requiring them to give a 5 minute oral presentation, I began laying the groundwork for the presentation.

I told them it was coming up. I went through the requirements – to whit, you have to get up and tell a story to the class, as if we were, say 4-6 year olds, and it should take about 5 minutes. You can retell a story you know, or tell one about your life, or make up an original, or even just memorize a book and recite it, but there will be no notes. this is about Storytelling. You can even bring props or require audience participation, just as long as you are telling a story.

Is this rocket science? No. I’ve given this assignment to classes before, and they’ve all managed to do it, some of them even do it well. There has been enjoyment and success in the past. I know it’s possible.

I asked if there were questions. I brought in a kid to tell a story to the class. (It was a great story, by the way, and I don’t say this just out of fondness for the kid.) The kid, admittedly, told her story from notes. One of the flakes noticed this, and asked if they could also use notes. I replied: “this child is 9; I think you can probably manage this task without notes.” Following the demonstration, I asked if they were clear on the task. There were nods. I asked if there were questions. No questions.

So, Monday rolls around, and off I go to class, and the first thing that is notable is that of the 16 students scheduled to tell stories, only about 8 have bothered to show. Fabulous.

The first student gets up says “When I was 5 my mom took me to the petting zoo and a goat pulled my pants down.” THE END. That’s it? Apparently so.

The second presenter had the nugget of a fantastic story about how he got left behind on a family trip. This story could have had everything, suspense, exciting action, the emotional high of the eventual reunion, even an element of humour. Instead, he got up and flatly told the bare bones of the story in about 30 seconds, with a horrible scowl on his face.

And so it went. Of course, this is the peril of setting oral presentations. Sometimes they fall flat, or are cringe-makingly awful. I continue to persevere because other times they are interesting and informative and allow students to showcase their ability to convey information in ways other than written work. However, in this case, they were mostly dire, but at least they were short. Because of the pathetic efforts and the missing students, class was over in 30 minutes instead of 90. “That’s it?” asked the King of Flakes. Like somehow this was my fault for planning badly.

Today, I spent the morning debating whether or not to say I thought the previous classed sucked. On the one hand, telling snowflakes they suck means you are labelled “mean”, but on the other, HOLY FUCKING CRAP THEY SUCK.

In addition, I’m getting a vibe that their suckitude is going to be defended by whining. I’ve had a couple of emails, and there’s this whiny tone developing. So I decide to put my cards on the table. They can suck all they want, and half-ass the class all they want, but they can’t also expect to do well. Don’t want to hand your assignments in? Fine, but don’t blame me if you get a bad mark. Don’t want to put any effort into the assignment? Fine, but don’t expect to pass.

I comment on the general suckitude of Monday’s presentations (making sure to note the 2 honourable examples). And I know some of them agree with me because a couple are nodding, and one student had been to my office to ask a question and had made a comment indicating that she thought they sucked. So, yes, it is a dressing-down, and I am hoping that it will have the effect of making the ones who wanted to do well lift their game a little.

In the midst of my rant, King of Flakes puts his hand up. “To be honest,” he says (and OH GOOD, I think), he didn’t really understand what was required until he saw other people faceplant in the previous class. How can this be? Did he not hear the explanations? Read the assignment? Listen to the demonstration? Did he make any effort to ask a question to clarify his confusion? What more did he want?

“Well,” he said, “I thought it would be easier.” Fabulous. I don’t punch him, but instead ask if he can elaborate. “It just seemed that there were easier options.” Okay, whatever. I make the point that sometimes the easy way out isn’t the way to get the best mark, and we move on.

And, mirabile dictu, the presentations today are good. There’s humour, there’s audience participation; one guy accompanies himself on the guitar, one girl brings a friend to be a prop; it’s what I was hoping for the first time.

Then we get to King of Flakes’ turn. He gets up and starts to read Green Eggs and Ham. Just read the book. Not retell the story. He’s just trying to read the fucking book to the class.

Green Eggs and Ham, I will point out, is a set book from our reading list – he didn’t even go to the library or the bookstore or, I dunno a box of books in his house; just picked up the first handy book. He doesn’t recite it, like another guy did with a different Dr Seuss book, he’s just going to READ the GODDAMN set book from the FUCKING reading list.

I say to him “you can’t just read the book; the assignment says ‘tell a story without notes’. This is not doing the assignment”. He looks at me like I am insane. See, he wants to do something easier. Rather than, you know, the set task, which I will reiterate, isn’t difficult. I tell him to cut it out. He’s determined to read the book, and the class is bewildered, and I suggest that he sit down and figure out what the fuck he thinks he’s doing, and we’ll have the next presentation while he does that.

As a result of all of this folderol, we ran out of time, and there are a couple more people left, so I have to effectively give them an extension and let them present next class. So at the end of class, I have a talk to King of Flakes. Would he like to TRY the Herculean task of memorizing Green Eggs and Ham for next class? He just looks at me like I am insane again. “I won’t be able do that.” WHAT? This is his response? “I thought you would just take marks off if I didn’t memorize it,” he explains. Well. Yes. Yes I will. All of them.

Can I just repeat something here, in case you missed it in all of the foaming of the mouth? The book it will be too onerous to memorize is Green Eggs and Ham. Yes, that Green Eggs and Ham. The one that goes:

I am Sam
Sam I am

That Sam-I-am!
That Sam-I-am!
I do not like that Sam-I-am!

Do you like
green eggs and ham?
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.
I do not like
green eggs and ham.

Snowflakes, I present to you your king.

No, not that kind of snowflakes.

So, I dunno if you know this, but here in the Empire of Canada, it has been snowing like fuck. And so today, when I got home, in the interests of not breaking my ankle, I shovelled the front steps and then got to work on the sidewalk. Now the sidewalk snow had been trampled by many feet, making it all packed down and stuff, so it was harder to shovel, and I had to, like bash it a bit to get it up and then scoop it off the sidewalk.

I took a little pause to wave to my fambly, who were walking up the street from school, and some old biddy who is walking past stops and decides that what a person who is clearly struggling with an unaccustomed manual task needs is unsolicited advice.

And she says to me, I SWARE I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP, “What you need is a Dutch ho.”

Excuse me? Inappropriate much?

So I am sure you understand why I told her to fuck the hell off.

Is there an award for petty assholes? Because I think I have a winner.

So, today my Chair says, “have you got a minute,” which we all know is never good news, but I SWARE my conscience is clear.

So, I chase him down and he’s all like “There’s a complaint about your midterm,” and my mind immediately goes to the Groomer, but I haven’t even marked the midterms yet, so you know, what kind of complaint could she have? So I give this a moment to play out, and he asks if I can explain the circumstances of how the midterm unfolded.

My Chair is generally a good guy and all, but he has this habit of assuming that you know what he is talking about, which in this case I have no fucking clue, so I am just describing what happened, which is as follows:

The class is 50 minutes long and meets at 9, and so it’s a bit hard to have a full-on srs midterm, but by starting early because the room is empty and maybe squeezing a couple more minutes in at the end, in the changeover gap between classes, I tell them they can likely get a reasonable length essay written. So he says “yes, this seems to have been the problem”, which, you will agree, in no way explains what the fuck the problem is.

So, I say, I told them they could come in early, and about 80% of them were indeed in the room when I got there at 8:45, so we got underway, and the rest trickled in. So far so good. Then, at 9:50, there were a few students left and I told them to finish up, and I went outside and apologized to the person I thought was the teacher and said “They are just finishing up their midterm.” And this person said “Oh, no problem”.

Apparently, though, “Oh, no problem” is code for “This is such a problem that Ima report you to MY chair, who will then have YOUR chair say that there is a request for you to be reprimanded for disadvantaging students who needed to sit a midterm and also you have to write a formal apology”.

And I am all like “Dude, I am happy to apologize, because I thought I already did, but isn’t this a bit much of a rigamarole over 5 minutes, which 5 minutes was part of the 10 minutes changeover, and not in any way 5 minutes of this person’s actual class time?” And he says “Are you sure it was only 5 minutes?” And I said “Yes, because I was on time to my class that started at 10am”.

And then he’s like flipping through some papers on his desk saying “I need to get the details of this a bit clearer then”. And I am dismissed, still mystified, but now with one burning question –