Not The Key To Student-Staff Relations

, , , , | Learning | December 1, 2020

I’ve just returned from a trip out of state to my apartment-style dorm complex. The building has six floors and I’m at the very top, so I direct my ride to drop me off at that entrance. They pull away, and as I go to enter the building, I realize my key card is not working at all. I give the resident desk a call.

Me: “Hi. I’m up on the sixth floor and the door isn’t working for some reason.”

Staff: “Oh, have you gotten your card reprogrammed?”

Me: “I don’t think so? It worked just a couple of weeks ago.”

Staff: “Oh, come on down and we’ll reprogram your card. We decommission all the resident cards once a year. For safety!”

Me: “Uh… sure, but I’ve been dropped off here with all my luggage and there’s no elevator access.”

Staff: “We can’t go up there. You should’ve thought of that.”

So, down I walk with my luggage, circling around through the entire car park since it has no stairs or elevators, around to the front of the building, where they reprogram my card and send me on my way. At least I can take the elevator up.

When I get inside my apartment with my now working key card, I realize my bedroom door is locked from the inside. This is the one door that requires a key instead of a card. Frustrated, I call the staff again.

Me: “Hi again. My bedroom door is locked for some reason, also?”

Staff: “Oh, are you locked out? Why not use your key?”

Me: “The key… was in my room. My roommates and I are all friends and we don’t lock our bedroom doors.”

Staff: “Oh, so you locked yourself out?”

Me: *Sigh* “No, I did not lock it before I left. But now it is locked.”

Staff: “Yeah, we did room checks and locked all the rooms afterward. To keep them safe. If you come downstairs, we can process the lockout charge and then let you in.”

Me: *Incredulous pause* “Excuse me. You want to charge me for locking me out of my room? And you can’t come upstairs?”

Staff: “Well, it’s really your responsibility to not get locked out. You’re adults now. And no, you have to request and pay in person at the desk down here.”

Me: *Another pause* “It is four am. I have dragged my luggage down six floors because you deprogrammed my card and sent no notice about it. Now you’re telling me you did a full room check, also with no notice, and locked me out, and you are trying to get me to go back down six floors to pay you for locking me out? I refuse and, honestly, I’m about to explode just talking to you about it.”

Staff: “Um… Well, I can waive the fee just this once. But you need to be more careful! You’re adults now! It’s your responsibility to keep your key on you and be responsible. It’s standard policy to lock rooms and deprogram cards every once in a while.”

Me: “I’ve lived here for two years and you’ve never done this before, but fine. I guess I’ll keep my key on me in case you guys decide to lock me out again.”

She came upstairs and finally let me in where I could blissfully sleep after my red-eye flight. Weird how there was never another instance of this apparently “standard policy.” I’m still not sure how mass deprogramming every single student card with no notice was supposed to be for safety.

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Slow And Steady Avoids The Wasps

, , , , | Learning | November 30, 2020

I am six or seven years old. For a few years, I go to a nature camp every summer. I like everything except the hikes, which I still hate later in life.

One day, before a hike:

Counselor: “We found a wasp nest on the trail we’re going to hike today. We’ll give you a warning before we enter that area, and we’ll have to walk past it very quietly.”

Since I’m not crazy about hikes, I always walk towards the back of the group of twenty to thirty campers and counselors. The counselor who is assigned to the back of the group decides that I should be striving to be up front. I am with the group and not holding us back, so each time she bothers me, I politely brush her off. I move up closer to the middle just so she will stop annoying me.

We eventually get to the area with the reported wasp nest and are told to walk slowly and quietly. Most campers are looking up trying to see the nest. Little do they know, they will not be able to see it. One girl at the front is walking normally until she puts her foot down and the ground starts buzzing. She has stepped on the hive. She and the four other people at the front are chased down the rest of the trail by a swarm of angry wasps.

I decide this is the perfect moment to find the counselor who wanted me up front.

Me: *Smugly* “I’m glad I didn’t go up front like you told me to!”

She glared at me but made no comment.

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At Least He Likes His Job

, , , , , , | Learning | November 28, 2020

I’m taking a class with a professor who LOVES his subject and is clearly delighted to have people to talk to about it. I’m not sure he even brings lecture notes; he just tells us to read something, and then in the next class, he comes in and talks about it for an hour and a half, barely pausing for breath. Since the subject is a bit esoteric and the professor is so disorganized, it’s hard to tell when something he says is important and when it’s tangential, so everybody takes reams of notes, frantically scribbling to keep up with him. As a result, people don’t speak up much. 

One day, I raise my hand, and the professor’s face lights up.

Professor: “Oh, a question! Wonderful! Yes?”

He looks so excited at this sign of engagement that I actually feel bad about what I have to say next.

Me: “Uh, well… it’s ten o’clock, and I have to go to my next class.”

Professor: “Oh. Yes, so it is. Class dismissed.”

He seemed slightly crushed, so I vowed to actually ask a real question next time.

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Just Leave The Doctoring To The Doctors

, , , , | Learning | November 26, 2020

I have just been diagnosed with pretty bad asthma. I have to use my inhaler every hour and check my peak flow, as well, to see if I also need a controller.

I’m at my swimming team practice. I take a puff from my inhaler. Five minutes later…

Coach: *Aggressive* “Why aren’t you in the pool?”

Me: “Because I need to wait fifteen minutes to do my peak flow before getting back into the water.”

Coach: *Indignant* “What exactly is a peak flow? And why do you need to do it every hour?!”

Me: “My peak flow is this.”

I wave the hand containing my peak flow monitor.

Me: “I blow into it, and it gives me a number. I do it three times — actually, four, because the first one doesn’t count — and write it down for my doctor—”

Coach: “Hey, [Assistant Coach], everyone needs to do 100 more, because the first one doesn’t count!”

And he laughs at his own terrible joke.

Me: *Keeps calm* “Well, it’s to make sure I get the most accurate data; it’s to see if I need a controller as well as an inhaler for my action-induced asthma—”

Coach: “It’s not possible for you to have action-induced asthma or to have it acting up from the two-hour swim workout. I know about these things. You would need to keep your heart rate up very high for that, and you aren’t.” 

He acts like he’s won.

Me: “Well, I’m just doing what the asthma specialist said to.”

I imagine his head being separated from his head by a soccer ball as he stands there with a triumphant look on his face.

After practice, I tell my mom what happened.

Mom: “He asked me about your asthma earlier, and I explained it to him. I even asked him if you were performing better with the inhaler, and he admitted you were. But he said it quite reluctantly.”

Me: *Under my breath* “I am going to kill my teacher.”

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Spelling Is Important, But Calm Down, Maybe

, , , , , , | Learning | November 24, 2020

I am a middle school librarian in the days before widespread Internet access. One day, a group of students comes rushing into the library.

Kids: “Mr. [My Name], Mr. [My Name]! What does ‘impotent’ mean?”

Me: “Um… weak and powerless. Why?”

The kids didn’t believe me and rushed for the dictionaries. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but eventually, I got the story. 

A kid had accidentally written “impotent” instead of “important” on an assignment. The English teacher apparently had an absolute fit, publicly berating the kid for using bad language and making him repeatedly copy the definition of “important.”

So, instead of blowing off a simple spelling error, this teacher had a bunch of seventh graders convinced that “impotent” must be the filthiest word in the English language and determined to find out what it meant.

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