Category Archives: pineapple

You know what I am over? Pineapple.

So, today I popped into work to do a little marking, and my Chair said that little phrase guaranteed to strike fear into the heart of any Prof – “do you have a minute”?

So, apparently, Pineapple boy is shocked and horrified that he didn’t pass my class, and he very cunningly went to see the Head of Department armed with the assignments that he passed, cunningly leaving the ones he failed at home. His cunning, let him sho u it. Unfortunately, the Chair has had some experience of student cunning, and asked him if there was work he a) did not hand in, or b) failed. So that was a bit of a blow.

Also, what came up in discussion (although I don’t know how, and am dying to) was all the eating in class. Pineapple boy mentioned the food, to which the Chair said “Oh, I know all about the food”, and proceeded to lay it on the Pineapple that eating in class was actually forbidden by policy, although instructors had discretion to allow it. This information so shocked Pineapple Boy that he was heard to utter the words, “Well, when can I eat?”

I don’t know what’s funnier, that the Chair clearly took the several minutes required to suggest to this guy that he eat during the break, or before or after class, or that he found it necessary to recount to me that he had done so. All of which is a great big check mark in the “It’s not just me” column when it comes to dealing with Pineapple Boy.

Anyway, all of this was because the Chair wanted to let me know that Pineapple Boy might be asking for a meeting to discuss his grades, but that all parties have agreed that this meeting might be better mediated by a third party. My choice:  some guy dressed up as a vegetable.

In other news, I am mean.

This meanness most recently manifested itself in telling a student, let’s call her The Wet Mess, that I wasn’t going to let her write the final.

Context: TWM managed to make it to 6 classes all semester. That’s not 6 classes of a class that meets once a week, either. That’s 6 classes for a class that meets 3 times a week. On two of these 6 occasions, she was advised by me to drop the class, since she wasn’t attending and had failed her midterm. Prior to the final, I emailed her to let her know that since she had not handed in a bunch of work, her grand total for the semester was running at 12%, and there was no way, mathematically, for her to pass the course.

Envirnonmental context: It was snowing like buggery the day before said final, and on the day, the temperature was hovering around -25.

Despite all of this, of course, TWM turned up to the final. Dude. Srsly. I pulled her aside, along with another no-hoper and suggested that they do something else with their 2 hours. I know other profs who don’t say anything, but, I dunno, it just doesn’t seem right to me to let someone sit, because the only reason he or she is doing so is out of forlorn hope. Mostly they leave, but occasionally they still want to do it. Okay, whatever.

TWM’s reaction was to burst into tears. At this point, I dug my heels in, for two reasons. 1) I knew I had a roomful of delicate little butterflies, and letting a crying one in was likely to be detrimental to anyone she sat near. 2) She said “Letting me sit would make me feel better”. No way am I enabling that kind of shit. If you fucked up your semester, you deserve to feel crap. You don’t get to sit the final, fail and then say “It’s okay, I tried my best”. Fuck that noise.

Then, of course, she tried to guilt me about her “medical condition”. This would be the medical condition you never mentioned to me all semester, even when asked the direct question, “Is there something going on in your life that is making it hard for you to cope with your courseload?” Outside the door of the final is not the place to be bringing this up.

So I drew a line in the sand, and no doubt she will relieve her feelings by writing nasty things about me on Rate My Prof. Anything to stop you having to take responsibility for your actions, sweetheart.

Also making me crabby: my wii is broken again, and the stupid buses that don’t come because it is -25. It’s -25! That’s when I need the bus to come get me before I freeze my ass off.

When pineapple goes bad.

So, things have been moving along, and there has been quite a lot of Nutcracker, and I did mean to write a post last week, but I got distracted by hilarious events in another corner of the internet. All of which means, I have to get you caught up on the Pineapple Boy business.

When we last heard of him, Pineapple Boy was a food-splattering jerk, kind of sexist, but generally lulzy. Things deteriorated a bit.

First, there was the incident in class when I was talking about my students’ oral presentations for their term projects. These are often on rather personal topics, and sometimes students get emotional, and often because they go that deep, the writing in them ends up being extraordinary. I had some wonderful ones this year, although not, I hasten to add, from Pineapple Boy’s cohort. Anyway, because sometimes these presentations do get emotional (read – people cry), I mention this beforehand, in order to say “Look, sometimes people get emotional. It’s okay, this classroom is a safe place, and crying in your presentation is not going to get you a bad mark.” I don’t court the emotional catharsis, but I do find that the ones who cry tend to be able then to go back to the writing and make it really good, having got the emotional stuff out of their systems, as it were.

In the one class – which I call in my head, the Good Class – there were some tears:  from the girl who got up and said “My Dad got married yesterday to the love of his life; the wedding was going to be in June, but they got married yesterday because he isn’t going to live that long”; from the girl who got up and read part of a letter she wrote to her brother who killed himself last August; from a couple of others who basically bared their souls in front of classmates whose response was respectful, thoughtful and admiring. Two standouts (who didn’t cry) were the girl who wrote a delightfully self-deprecating fairy tale about her experiences with drugs, and Silas.

Silas stood up and said “I want to start my piece by telling you about my friend Annie, who is a Jew”. It was one of those moments that stop a teacher’s heart. I mean, I give my students free reign to write about themselves and whatever they truly care about in this project. It’s a risk, but it usually pays off. In this case, though, I had a couple of seconds to worry about whether I was going to have to leap up and cut off some kind of terrifying neo-Nazi rant. But no. Silas went on to use the example of his friend Annie, who was so overtly proud of her religion that it became an overwheming part of her identity that she was practically one-dimensional, to illustrate his own dilemma. “I am a person with diabetes,” he said, “but I don’t want my disease to be my identity.” It was a brilliant piece, well-written, funny and moving. His classmates unanimously gave him 5 out of 5.

I came out of that class feeling terrific, like I had done a good job, and that my students had repaid me by trusting me with themselves, and that they were learning, and incorporating what they learned into what they wrote.

This feeling lasted an hour.

Then, I went to Pineapple Boy’s class. Because of the vagaries of scheduling, they were due to present the following class. So, I chipperly remarked that the presentations I had just heard were awesome, and that I hoped (vainly, forlornly) that this stupid, lumpish class might produce something of similar quality. “Did they bawl?” sneered Pineapple Boy. Ugh. And with that, my buzz was gone.

Two days later, the Lumpen Class were set to present. Pineapple Boy was being his usual cud-chewing self, with his massive tupperware of salad, and the usual lineup of power bars on the desk. Now, I am a professional, and if assholes are eating and farting and sleeping and texting in my class, I can pretty much suck it up and carry on regardless. But these students were nervous about their presentations, and I wanted to keep the annoying distractions to a minimum. So I asked Pineapple Boy to put his food away, just this once. No dice. “I gotta eat,” he said. (Subsequent events have made me aware that he has a class immediately after mine. A class in which, I now deeply suspect, he is forbidden to eat.) I repeated my request. He repeated his refusal. I threatened to throw him out. Finally, he gave in, with bad grace, and grumbled to his fellows.

Their presentations sucked. They sucked so bad, even peer marking couldn’t save them.

There followed a week, during which there was more truculence and backchat, but nothing all that noteworthy. Well, except I read a development in a story that a friend of mine had been telling in the Ivory Tower group over on ravelry, about a student who had touched her on the arm, and made comments about her looking hot. (I know! Ew!) We had encouraged her to report him, and he had been unhappy, and things had escalated, and he ended up breaking in to her house, and long story short, she had to buy all new underwear and the student is now in the loony bin. This would be a digression, except hearing this story put me a little, shall we say, on edge.

So, Friday morning, I am minding my own business, walking down the hallway when someone grabs my upper arm, quite hard. This is not a little tap. And I am not a little startled. And by the time I collect my self so as to say “Who the fuck is grabbing me by the arm,” the grabber is already some feet away, behind me, and it is Pineapple boy. This is not cool.

Before you say “why were his gonads still attached to his body?” I will mention that I had a cup of coffee in one hand and was dragging a trolley with the other. I mention my unhappiness to my Head of Department in an email, to which his response was, “meh”. Sarcastic Bastard told me to write up Pineapple Boy, because we do have a rules about behaviour at our place, and they have a spiral bound publication with schmancy gold illustrations on the front. So you know it’s srs business.

I kind of took the weekend to ruminate, and then had a conversation with the Official Rules Maven on Monday about whether Pineapple Boy was pertinent to their interests – i.e. whether I should follow through on the whole official reprimand thing. Since her response was “Oh my gosh, yes,” I went ahead and filled in the form.

Here’s where the pineapple starts going pear-shaped.

Before I went to class, I confirmed that Sarcastic Bastard was planning on being in the office, equipped with Mean Glare in case Pineapple Boy decided to give me any trouble, and I went down to the classroom. Lumpen Class were supposed to be doing a practice exam, so I set them up in the lab with their task, and asked Pineapple Boy to go upstairs and wait outside my office for me. I spent a couple minutes helping students, and then went to the door. He was standing there. I asked why he hadn’t gone upstairs. He said, in his inimitable fashion, that I wasn’t to treat him like a 5-year-old, and that he wanted to walk upstairs with me.

Now, I fully admit, that some of my reaction to him was being coloured by other experiences, and that I was choosing to err on the side of caution, but his truculence really put me on edge. I mean, come on. Your Prof comes in and says “I need to talk to you; go upstairs and wait,” if you are a reasonable person, do you argue? Or do you run like hell up those stairs, hoping that by appearing meek and biddable you may be able to engender some leniency for your crimes? I have never before had any student choose Option 1.

At that moment, I was absolutely jack of his shit. I didn’t want to argue with him anymore. So I went into the lab, shut the door, and pressed the speed-dial for Security. All I wanted was one guy. One guy to walk me up the stairs and possibly stand outside the door, so that when I had a difficult conversation with a dude whose neck is fatter than his head, and whose upper arms are fatter than his neck, I didn’t have to feel intimidated. What I got was 4 dudes. Who appeared at a fast jog.

It was overkill, and almost could have been embarrassing. Except for two things. 1) If you ever need to call Security, you would like to be confident that they will take you seriously, and provide, well, security. So over-reaction, in this situation, is totally preferable to the opposite. You know, like my Chair, who had essentially said, “meh”. 2) Pineapple Boy started to give them shit. Which kind of got me thinking about the kind of shit he might have given me had they not been there. So, all-in-all, I think I made the right call.

One of the Security guys menacingly put on his leather gloves while we approached Pineapple Boy, who had in the meantime wandered up the stairs on his own. This glove move, I am reliably assured, is a total mall ninja move, but it is nonetheless menacingly effective. We got Pineapple Boy into my office, and I started to explain the situation.

He interrupted me, as is his wont, to argue with me. I have been putting up with this, I now realise. The Security guy who was in my office told Pineapple Boy to shut up and listen to me. Which, naturally, he could not possibly manage to do. So they told him again. And again. All of which, again, was kind of part crazy comedy routine, but at the same time, it made me see that I had been letting this student push me around, and make me uncomfortable, and that part of the reason I had done that was because I was physically intimidated. Eventually, we got through the formalities, and I said what I needed to, and Pineapple Boy gave 4 different explanations of his behaviour, none of which impressed any of the parties present. It was quite uncomfortable, although the part where he said “This is about the pineapple, isn’t it,” was a brief moment of enjoyable levity in the otherwise depressing morass.

The Security guards took his details and menacingly asked him what his movements were going to be for the rest of the afternoon. This, I must admit, I did not expect, and I found it a little scary. Why were they asking? Did they think he might lie in wait to ambush me, while consuming his bucket of salad? His constant eating may be his downfall as a stealthy stalker, though. The tap, tap of chopsticks on tupperware could be a tell-tale clue that alerts me to his presence. Honestly, I don’t think he is that kind. I think he has been overstepping, but I think now, that it was not deliberate. He protested that he defends me when the others complain about me, and that he respects me as a teacher. I responded that in that case, he needs to make sure his behaviour matches his attitude, and if he can learn that lesson, well, maybe I have been an effective teacher for him this semester.

After all of this was over, I went back down to my class, who were being preturnaturally quiet and well-behaved. One of them tentatively raised a hand and said, “Do you mind if I ask a question, even if it might be a stupid question?” Normally, their stupidity doesn’t give them much pause. I responded, “Yeah, you probably don’t want to piss me off today, especially since I hear you all badmouth me behind my back.”

This has been an epic story, and not as funny as usual. Hopefully we can get back to the regular schedule of pointing and laughing at idiots soon.

In which I am a genius of detection (aka Liveblogging my marking).

I caught a plagiarist yesterday. It took me all of 60 seconds. What tipped me off? The fact that there were chunks of text written in a totally different font to the rest of the essay. Look, if these guys weren’t lazy morons, they wouldn’t be plagiarizing in the first place. Part of me likes the challenge of finding a crafty cheater, but hey, I have 100 essays to mark this week, so I appreciated not having to make the effort.

In Pineapple news, he wasn’t in class yesterday. The reason? “I got a new job and thier signing the contracts today.” I am assuming, not a job in which written communications are prominent.

Back to marking. I will update you if I find any more gems.

Update: no gems, but what the heck is with starting an essay comparing two stories with sentences like, “since the dawn of time, when men drew pictures on cave walls,”  or “Throughout time there has always been some sort of a division”? History of the universe: do not want. Some student tried to explain it to me as giving some sort of context to the essay, or getting it into the ballpark. Yeah, but get onto the field, not down the road 2 miles from the carpark.

Marking makes my back hurt. Also my brain.

May I please be excused? My brain is full.

Thought you might like to see the Starbucks snark in all its glory.

The reason I bring it up again is that the other day, when I arrived at my office, there was a posse of professors clustered around the door: Professor Birkenstock, Dr Pseudonymous and Sexual Harrassment Colleague, all commenting on this sign on the door. Which by the way, is not on the door alone in all its glory, but somewhat camouflaged in a cluster of papers about creative writing contests, schedules, political cartoons and funny posters about Gower being a wanker.

Anyway, (“Wait, what?” I hear you cry. “Sexual Harrassment Colleague? What is the deal with him? Tell us! It sounds juicy and salacious!” It is, and I will, but not now. Let’s get back to the Starbucks thing.) as I arrive, they all turn to me and ask “Did you or Sarcastic Bastard do this?” I knew it! No one will believe that Starbucks snark could possibly exude from the wide-eyed Poetess.

Later, when I told her about this, she was extremely smug.

In Pineapple-related news, I have been getting a series of emails from Pineapple Boy about why he wasn’t in class, why he isn’t going to be in class, and why his work is going to be late. There are variations in the exact details of the excuses (and I will spare you the dreadful spelling and grammar), but they pretty much all boil down to “my brain is full”. Seriously. And he honestly thinks this is a perfectly okay thing to say, like it is a reasonable explanation, and possibly a common problem.

Brain fullness was also his excuse for missing that in-class assignment a couple of weeks ago. Just the other day, he finally emailed me his “explanation”. Which, of course, makes me wonder about the speed of his thought processes, if it took him 10 days to regurgitate the same excuse. Essentially, it came down to: “I missed the assignment (worth 10%) because my brain was fried from working on the rewrite (worth 1%).” I know he has admitted English is not his strong suit; it looks like Math isn’t really his thing, either.

Meanwhile, he continues to eat and splatter in class. I am starting to be inured to the rudeness of the food, because his other rudeness is so boggling. Yesterday, when I was trying to get some discussion going about a class reading, his analysis was, “This just seems like all the other stupid crap you females come up with.”

There is an upside to this kind of comment, although I know it sounds completely appalling. The rest of the class are such a bunch of vanilla puddings that it is almost impossible to make an impression on them. The other day, when I was asking them about whether they thought war memorials made political statements, they answered “no”. As in “no w haven’t thought about it”, not “no they don’t”, even though I had just showed them a film about Maya Lin and the Vietnam Memorial. So, anyway, puddings. But even unshockable puddings will respond to comments about “crap females come up with.”

I am being all glass half full, because the other option is to stab my eyes out with a spoon.

Pineapple Boy is not my only moron.

The economic crisis is worrying, I know. It’s even worrying to bohemians without investment portfolios. However, I have some good news on that front. Apparently, a guy in my class is sorting it out for us. Unfortunately, it does mean that he can’t make it to class. He did email and let me know, though:

And I’m extremely sorry that I could not come to class today because I had
a very important meeting with the bank today. As we know about the
worldwide stock market crisis. I had to go and give them some special
instructions.
Sorry for any inconvenience I caused you.

Now, it is a concern that he also seems to be confessing that the whole mess may possibly be his fault, but on the other hand, he did apologise. I particularly like that he apologised for the “inconvenience”. I like a guy who thinks big enough to call 700 billion dollars for a bailout and a plummeting stock market an “inconvenience”.

I was talking to Sarcastic Bastard and my other officemate about Pineapple Boy today. Sarcastic Bastard suggested I could have a stern word about the eating in class, and he asked if I had advised Pineapple Boy to drop the class. “I kind of hinted,” I said, “but at this point, I am more interested in keeping him around for the lulz.”

Lest you think I am head and shoulders the meanest person in the office, I offer you the example of our other officemate – the Poetess – who joined us last year as a rather mild-mannered but interesting Creative Writing instructor. We have been assiduously cultivating her into a bitter and twisted harpy. Today she taped a little coffee-cup shaped card from Starbucks on the door. It’s a “we’re hiring” ad, and she had artistically added to the text a note about the deadlines for dropping classes. After I had finished laughing, I said “That is so mean, people will think I did it.” “Score!” she replied.

The promised update.

So, today in class Pineapple Boy was eating a giant greek salad with chopsticks. I spent half the class going over the assignment he didn’t do, and he sat there eating and kind of being generally annoying, like at one point he stood up and did some isometrics.

At the end of class, he came up to me and asked if I had marked his “thing”. “No,” I replied.

Then, because I could not contain my curiosity (and because I know that you, dear readers, are totally hanging out to know), I asked, “Is there a reason you didn’t do Monday’s assignment?”

“Yes,” he said.

I guess I walked into that one.

Oh, in other news, I am totally not the only one with stapler issues.

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

You knew there was going to be an update, and you were right.

So, yesterday, while I am busy and important and on the phone, Pineapple Boy wanders in to my office, without knocking, grabs my stapler, without asking, staples his new “story” and tosses it on to my desk. I hang up the phone, rather abruptly, in order to speak to him before he leaves.

“Some people,” I comment, “would consider your behaviour towards me disrespectful, bordering on rude.” Of course, he has no idea what I can possibly mean. So, I point out that grabbing a person’s stapler without asking is kind of rude, and that sending emails about how I “won’t care why he left class,” has a bit of an attitude about it.

Then I say, “and you sprayed food all over me, and did not apologise”. “Oh,” he says, “that was pineapple.” I know it was pineapple! The fact that it was pineapple has not escaped me. Or anyone I have told about it, which is pretty much everyone. But he’s saying “that was pineapple” as if “pineapple” is some kind of exception category. You know, splattering someone with, like orange, is rude, but if it is pinapple, well.

We go back and forth a bit, with him saying he doesn’t hate the class, even though he is “being forced to take it,” he still “wants to learn”. Because, you know, people can force you to take classes to meet requirements for your degree, but they totally can’t force you to learn stuff in those classes. He’s all earnest and shit, and takes his leave after many protestations about wanting to do his best. “See you soon,” I say, making reference to the fact that his class is meeting in a little while.

An hour later, his class has an in-class assignment to complete, in the lab. It’s worth marks. He doesn’t show. It’s not like I am surprised, but now I am all in suspense, waiting to hear WHY he didn’t show. Is he offended that I took exception to the pineapple incident? Did he just forget? Did he take an extra-long lunch.

Amuse yourselves by guessing. I’ll let you know.