Attaching A Tone Of Resentment To Your Assignment

, , , , , | Learning | April 25, 2020

I’m in Year 11, age 15, and I realise one Saturday night that I have an assignment for my Maths GCSE due on Monday morning. I’ve done the preliminary work for this but not much else. I spend all of Sunday doing it, working until mid-evening, and then I email it as an attachment to my school email address so that I can print it there, as we’re out of paper and ink at home.

It’s important to note that this is around 2005, when even emailing a simple Excel file was far less reliable than it is now. This means that when I get to school and sign in to my email, the attachment has failed to be included.

At the beginning of the class where I’m supposed to hand this assignment in, I approach the teacher and explain the situation. She’s sceptical and unsympathetic, since an email with no attachment is hardly overwhelming evidence of my innocence, and gives me a lunchtime detention, which will be escalated to after school if I don’t hand the work in at the lunchtime detention.

I’m fuming; I actually did the work, so feel it’s really unfair to be punished like this. I angrily rant about the situation to my friends as the class gets settled.

This class, as it turns out, involves something being projected onto the whiteboard. Or at least it was supposed to, but the projector isn’t working. After trying to get it working again, the teacher gives up and announces, “Sorry, guys, bit of a hiccup. We’ll do this another time”.

I respond, in what’s supposed to be an undertone: “Oh, so when technology fails on you, it’s just a hiccup, but when it fails on me, it’s a big deal.”

It’s only when the entire class turns around to look at me, and the teacher stares at me with unbridled fury, that I realise I said it extremely loudly.

There’s a very uncomfortable pause, which is broken when the teacher mutters, “Yes, well, make sure you bring your coursework tomorrow,” and continues with the lesson.

After school, I manage to get hold of whatever printing supplies I was missing and print the coursework at home. I arrive for my lunchtime detention and hand it to her, and she tells me that she had been planning to let me off the hook if I handed it in then, but my little outburst in class yesterday had changed her mind.

And so, I learned three lessons: keep your printing supplies stocked, always check that your attachment has sent, and be very aware of the volume of your voice.

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