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If It Seems Too Easy, It Probably Isn’t

, , , , , , , , | Learning | February 27, 2023

The most memorable class I took during my university degree was one I took in my first semester. It was held in the largest lecture hall and packed to overflowing because it was a required class for an awful lot of degrees. Unlike most entry-level classes, it had no attendance or participation requirements, the topic was pretty easy, and you didn’t even really need to buy the textbook because there were lots of copies in the library available for a long-term loan, plus the lecturer provided photocopies and slides of the relevant sections. The lectures were recorded and available at the library along with copies of all the slides the lecturer had used. The final exam was open-book, and the tutors provided several years’ worth of past exams to use as study materials.

The class was a TRAP.

If you didn’t go, nobody cared — or even really noticed. If you didn’t hand in assignments, nobody chased them up. There were plenty of ways to catch up on content if you missed lectures, but nobody checked to see if you were using them. After the first few weeks of the semester, the lecture hall no longer had people sitting on the stairs because there weren’t enough seats. By the mid-semester break, it was mostly empty, and there was a Dungeons & Dragons group sitting in the back rows, complete with character sheets, rolling dice, and “I fire a magic missile at the darkness!”-level roleplaying. The left middle section was the territory of a social club that arrived, drank coffee, gossiped, and left without ever taking their notebooks out of their bags.

I missed a lot of lectures because I hated getting up early enough to go to them, but I went to the library at a more convenient time and listened to the recordings. When I came up with a question that hadn’t been answered in the text, I dragged myself to the next lecture and asked it or went to the lecturer’s office hours. He was always fun to talk to and had lots of great stories, so it wasn’t exactly a hardship.

Then, the end of the semester hit. Some students I hadn’t seen in lectures since the very beginning showed up at the library and seemed to be trying to go through all the recordings in the last week or so before exams started, but I think most of the missing were relying on the exam being open-book to get them through.

Well, the final exam was easy, but it was long, and it quickly became apparent that the students who were looking everything up in their textbooks just didn’t have time to finish. 

The final results came out, and the bell curve you expect to see in grades was pushed hard to the left side of the graph, with a spike at the far right. Anyone who’d realised it was time to take responsibility for their own learning and study without being pushed and prompted did well. Everyone who had taken the lack of direction as an excuse to skive off all semester — three-quarters of the class — failed. And because it was a prerequisite class, they had to take it again and pass before they could move on to second-year classes… the ones that, like this class and unlike all the other first-year classes, mostly lacked the tracking and reminders and attendance requirements the students were used to having to keep them on track.

It was a sneaky and effective way to teach people how to direct their own studies and filter out the ones who didn’t get the hint.

Mansplaining Comes In All Sizes

, , , , , | Right | June 21, 2022

I work as a cashier at an automotive retail store. A man comes to the register with a caravan step. I greet him and ask how I can help him.

He puts the box down on the counter and looks me up and down.

Customer: “Do you have any of these in the next size up?”

The box says, “Medium Folding Caravan Step,” so I open my Point of Sale system to check for a large.

Customer: “The next size up is a large, just in case you didn’t know.”

I bite my tongue, hard. I look at him for a second and then nod and continue searching the system. We are actually showing negative stock for the next size up, so he thanks me and leaves the store.

Coworker: “…”

Me: “I never would have known a large is the next size up from a medium if he hadn’t told me.”

Just Don’t Get A Chip On Your Shoulder About It

, , , , , , , , | Working | April 21, 2022

My work leases a laptop, monitor, and accessories for each employee through a third party. Employees submit a ticket for new equipment when the lease expires. When my current laptop is up for replacement, I don’t bother to submit a ticket for a new one. Unlike my previous laptop, this one is still working perfectly well and it seems like a waste to order a new one, especially in the middle of the global chip shortage.

About six months later, I receive an email advising me that the lease has expired, the laptop is out of warranty, and I must order a new one. No problem. I fill out the ticket and hit submit. A few weeks later, I receive an email with an update on my new laptop. Due to supply issues, any available stock is being used to fulfil orders for new staff and lost, stolen, or damaged equipment.

After not ordering a new laptop because of the global chip shortage and then being told I had to order a new one, my order was cancelled due to the global chip shortage.

We Hope That Emergency Wasn’t TOO Urgent

, , , , , , | Healthy | December 16, 2021

My neighbour was sitting watching his TV late in the evening when there was a very loud banging on his front door. Wondering who would be calling at this hour, he opened the door.

Standing there was a man wearing all the anti-[health crisis] gear; mask, scrubs, and a biohazard suit.

Man: “I’m [Man] from Social Services. We got your emergency call, and more help is on the way.”

My neighbour, not knowing what this was all about, looked at him blankly.

Man: “Come on! Let me in so I can start the treatment.”

My neighbour was still looking at him blankly.

Neighbour: “What are you talking about? I haven’t made an emergency call to anyone. No one here is sick. I don’t know who you are, so I’m not letting you in.”

The man was starting to get impatient.

Man: “We got an emergency call from here, [number] at [block of units].”

Neighbour: “You have the right number but the wrong complex. That block is down the road a bit further.”

Man: *Obviously shocked* “Oh, d***. I must have misread the number.”

He grabbed his phone and started talking quickly and loudly as he dashed off.

I hope he found the right person, but you would think that people doing that sort of job would have a better idea of where their clients live.

Bit Of An Overreaction, Don’t You Think?

, , , , , | Legal | October 30, 2021

At around 3:00 am one morning, I’m pulled over for a random breathalyser check. I don’t drink so I’m not worried. It’s just one of those things that happens occasionally, particularly early in the morning.

As I get ready to blow in the meter:

Police Officer #1: “Have you drunk any alcohol in the last three or four hours?”

Me: “No, I don’t drink alcohol. It makes me very depressed.”

I’m trying to keep it light.

Me: “But I had a couple of cups of tea before I left home if that’s going to be a problem!”

[Police Officer #1] gives me a friendly grin, and we do the business with the breathalyser.

Police Officer #1: *Curious* “The reading is all right, but where are you going at this time of the morning?”

Me: “I’m a research student at the university, and I like to get in early so I can get some work done before the phones start ringing and people start wasting my valuable research time.”

Police Officer #1: *Grinning* “Yeah, I can appreciate that. Have a good day.”

Police Officer #2: *Breaking in, angrily* “What about drugs? All university students take drugs.”

Me: “Not me. I don’t like my mind being messed with.”

Police Officer #2: *Getting angrier* “Don’t get smart with me, you b*****d, or I’ll arrest you for failing to answer my questions properly. You must have been taking something!”

[Police Officer #1] looks a bit doubtful about his partner’s attitude. Starting to get a bit upset, I glance at [Police Officer #1].

Me: “I’m not getting smart. I did answer your questions properly.”

[Police Officer #2] starts shouting angrily and reaching for his gun.

Police Officer #2: “Get out of the car, put your hands on the roof, and spread your legs!”

Now I’m starting to get frightened! [Police Officer #1], a sergeant, quickly breaks in and orders his partner to get back in the patrol car.

Police Officer #1: “I’m very sorry about that. I’m going straight back to the station and putting in an official report about him.” *Gives me his card* “If you want to make a formal complaint, give them my name and I will support you.”

I went on my way, shaking. I’d never before been threatened with a gun just because I passed a breathalyser test! Perhaps it’s time I learnt that some people don’t appreciate my weird sense of humour.

This story is part of our Best Of October 2021 roundup!

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Read the Best Of October 2021 roundup!