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Ain’t Geology Trippy?

, , , , , | Learning | May 21, 2022

I studied at a university north of the Arctic Circle. That means that the sun never sets during the summer and never rises in the winter. It also means that when it’s dark outside, the inhabitants can quite frequently get Northern Lights (aurora borealis). This is a beautiful spectacle — nature’s own light show colouring the sky.

One evening in August, I was walking my dog around a lake near the university housing estate. It was very late, but the sun never sets, so it was still bright as day. On a bench near the path, there were a couple of foreign exchange students sitting, looking up and waiting. They both spoke English with a heavy foreign accent, so I really can’t blame them too much for not knowing the details about this, but it was funny nonetheless. As I passed by, one of them asked me:

Student: “Excuse me. Do you know when we can see the Northern Lights?”

Me: “Ehm… Yes. Yes, I do. They are visible when it’s dark outside. Which is… a few months from now.”

They were laughing as they walked back to their dorms. I wonder how long they would have waited before giving up.

Thanks For Making College Life Even Harder

, , , , , , | Learning | May 13, 2022

I’m employed by the housing service of a prestigious university, directing inbound students to the best options for their needs. One such student is a boy, who, due to not feeling confident in living entirely alone just yet, has decided to not live in a flat and instead to get a bed in the all-male dorms. I give him all the information needed to start the enrolment process and think nothing of it.

A few days later, I get a call.

Me: “Hallo, [University]’s Student Housing Services. How may I be of help?”

Boy: “Hello, it’s me, [Boy]. I called two weeks ago about getting a place in the dorm, but I’ve had a bit of a problem.”

Me: “What kind of problem? Anything serious?”

Boy: “Uh, yeah, the headmaster, or whatever he’s supposed to be, sat me down after the dorm tour and told me I wasn’t a very good fit for the dorm and that I should go look for a flat.”

Me: “That’s weird. Did he elaborate?”

Boy: “No, he didn’t say much else.”

Me: “Okay, then. Do you mind if I inform myself and then get in touch with you by the end of this week?”

Boy: “Sure.”

And so the call ends. I immediately call the dorm manager’s office, figuring that something REALLY major had come up to tell him he couldn’t get into the dorm. After getting transferred from the secretary, in a few minutes, I’m on the phone with him.

Dorm Manager: “Hallo, [Dorm]’s office, [Dorm Manager] speaking.”

Me: “Hallo, Mr. [Dorm Manager], I have been called by a student called [Boy] [Surname]. He says that, after touring the dorm’s facilities, he was told that he wasn’t allowed to take a room. He told me he has not been told the reason behind it. Is that true?”

Dorm Manager: “[Boy]? If she is what I think she is, that’s not her name.”

There’s a long beat, as I’m confused.

Me: “Come again?”

Dorm Manager: “She was not a boy but a girl. I don’t understand what she was trying to accomplish in trying to hide her breasts and pass herself as a boy to enter my dorm, but, regardless, she isn’t supposed to be here. She should go contact the girl student dorm.”

Me: “Huh? His voice sounded quite masculine to me.”

Dorm Manager: “The voice did, but I guarantee you she didn’t look like a boy in the slightest, neither in face nor in body. I am not going to let some kid’s girlfriend sneak in to live with them.”

Me: “I think I’m going to research this matter a little deeper. Something is not quite adding up here.”

And I hang up. While I’m not allowed to access any files that could be considered sensitive, I do notice that [Boy] sustained the admission exam to university under the name he gave me; if this was just somebody’s girl trying to get a free room with her boyfriend, she would have to be extremely committed.

A couple of days later, I decide to send an email to my boss about it and then call the boy back.

Me: “Hallo, [Boy], [University]’s Student Housing Services.”

Boy: “Hallo, any news?”

Me: “Yeah, I’ve called the dorm manager. He has told me you looked like a girl and rejected you on those grounds.”

Boy: “Uhhh… what? Can he even do that? Can’t I appeal that?”

Me: “I think you should give a call to my boss. I’m afraid I cannot help you with this directly.”

And I give him the number. A few hours later…

Boss: “Hallo, [My Name], do you remember [Boy]? [Surname], the one.”

Me: “Yes, I do. I gave him your office’s number.”

Boss: “I have seen his file and talked about it with him. He’s definitely a guy, no two ways about it. Strike out a spot from the dorm. I will deal with it myself.”

Me: “Okay, if you say so.”

And he hangs up. I receive no information about it for a long time until midway through the first semester of university when I receive a call from [Boy].

Boy: “Hello, it’s me, [Boy]. I’m sorry, and I know it’s quite a lot to ask, but would it be possible to find an apartment now?”

Me: “Hello, [Boy]. May I ask why you want to leave the dorm?”

Boy: “I… I don’t feel comfortable in there. The place is nice and all, but the dorm manager keeps calling me to his office and telling me I shouldn’t be here or that I don’t look like a guy or…”

At this point, silence falls.

Me: “Hello? Are you there?”

There’s a long beat, and then I hear some sniffling.

Boy: “Uh… yeah, I’m here. It just hurts to talk about. Can I get a place in another dorm or an apartment with other people, pretty please? I don’t want to be here anymore.”

Me: “I will see what I can do.”

I decide to get the other side of the story just in case.

Dorm Manager: “Hallo, [Dorm]’s office, [Dorm Manager] speaking.”

Me: “Hallo, Mr. [Dorm Manager]. A student has been complaining about your behaviour toward him. His name is [Boy] [Surname]. May I know what is going on exactly?”

Dorm Manager: “What is going on? She isn’t [Boy]. She literally is just some girl who decided to change her name and gender because she liked football. I don’t care how much she likes [Football Team] or how much she wants to lop off her breasts. She is not a man, and she will never be, and I am not going to keep a woman around my dorm just to please some dumb idiot who thinks he knows better than I do. She either gets out of my dorm on her own, or I will make her wish she had never bothered.”

It all finally clicks.

Me: “Oh, okay, I do finally understand. I will be sure to pass this around.”

Dorm Manager: “You’d better. Goodbye.”

Little does he know, I am not going to communicate that to the poor guy.

Me: “Hello, [Boss]. [Dorm Manager] is apparently harassing [Boy] [Surname].”

A deep sigh comes from the other side of the phone.

Boss: “Jesus Christ, [Dorm Manager] really is the dumb motherf***** I thought he was. You’d think he loves long talks with the rector. Fine, I’ll get to work once again.”

To make a long story short: my boss emailed the university’s rector, who in turn demanded that the dorm manager visit him, and apparently, he had quite the choice of words for him. They started arguing, and then the rector gave the dorm manager his walking papers, replacing him with his direct underling, who was much more diplomatic. The trans boy ultimately decided to stay in the dorm and has thanked me, though, really, he had to thank both the rector and my boss.

Compliment Confidence And Watch It Grow

, , , , , | Learning | May 7, 2022

I went through some serious mental health struggles all throughout my high school years. This was further exacerbated in college because I decided to go out of state and basically lost my entire support system.

In my freshman year, I was all but forced to withdraw from my gen-ed chemistry class because, between my mental health and my natural disinterest in the subject, I didn’t have any motivation to turn in any homework or lab reports. My professor for that class was also the ONLY one to notice my struggles and to try and reach out to me, but I wasn’t really receptive to getting help at that point.

A year later, I started digging myself out of my hole, so I decided to retake the class with the same professor. On this particular day, we had an exam. I finished a bit early, handed my test to my professor, and left the room like usual for her exams. Unbeknownst to me, she actually followed me out into the hall.

Professor: “[My Name]?”

Me: “Uh, yes?”

Professor: “I just wanted to say great job on your confidence this semester. You’ve come a long way.”

Me: *Genuinely shocked* “Oh, thank you. I’m… I’m really trying.”

Even though it was just a small comment, it really hit me hard after everything. I cried the whole way back to my dorm.

Are They Head Of The Callousness Department?

, , , , , | Working | May 6, 2022

I am working as a math tutor part-time while I’m taking online classes. Our department chair who oversees my boss is often unreasonable and unkind to us, as most of us do not have more than an associate’s degree. But this story really gave me a warning to get out of the place.

Due to a botched adenoid surgery I had as a toddler, I am prone to horrific sinus infections that cause unbelievable amounts of pain and can quickly progress to the point where I have to go to the ER. On this particular day, I woke up feeling the beginning signs, and throughout the day they worsened to the point that the over-the-counter painkillers I had in my purse did nothing.

My shift ended and I clocked out, intending to go to Urgent Care for antibiotics and painkillers. But on my way out, the department head stopped me.

Department Head: “I need you to go outside the testing room and watch a student we think is cheating.”

Students have up to two hours to complete a test, meaning I could potentially be in pain in the hall the entire time.

Me: “I’m sorry, but I’m on my way to urgent care. Maybe [Coworker] can do it?”

Department Head: “No, he doesn’t look like a student. We need you to do it. “

Me: “I have a really bad sinus infection and I really need to get to urgent care.”

Department Head: “I’m sorry you scheduled a doctor’s appointment so close to your work hours, but you should have expected that you might have to stay after.”

Nowhere in my contract does it say this. Hours are sent out the week before, and excepting illness or emergency, they are set in stone.

Me: “[Department Head], I’m really sorry I can’t help, but I’m in extreme pain and I really need to get medical attention.”

Department Head: “You seem to be perfectly fine to me. But if you won’t do it, I guess I’ll find someone.”

I got the heck out of there and rushed to Urgent Care where I was given antibiotics and prescription painkillers. I was also given a note not to go to work the next day, as I needed to be resting. 

The next week, I found that my hours had been cut to half their usual, leaving the tutoring center short-staffed. When I asked my boss if I could work more hours to help, she told me that [Department Head] had asked her to “shorten my schedule due to my medical emergency”.

This persisted for another week, with the short-staffing continuing as many tutors were students and had set up their work schedules around their classes and studying. Then, suddenly, I was back to my full hours.

This is only the first story I could tell about this place, and I finally ended up quitting when they refused to do anything about workplace harassment because the harasser was [Department Head]’s friend.

We Hope This Class Was On The Ground Floor

, , , , , , | Learning | May 5, 2022

We’re having an exam in a computer lab. After we’re all finished, the examiner sits with each of us individually to see what we’ve done, and then we can go, but the grade will be revealed later. The classmate he’s currently with has taken this class at least once before.

Classmate: *Jokingly* “Sir, if I fail the class again, I’m going to jump out the window.”

Examiner: “Okay, I’ll keep that in mind. Let’s see.”

They spend a couple of minutes looking through his work.

Examiner: “All right, you can go.”

Classmate: “Through the door or the window?”

Examiner: “…The door.”