Needs To Reverse That Reversal

, , , , | Working | October 17, 2017

In college I had a summer job in a shop, installing refrigeration units on semi-trailers. Several other college and high-school kids performed the same job as I, although with varying degrees of mechanical aptitude.

I was working on a trailer one day when one of them came asking for help. “I’ve been trying to drill a hole in this frame rail for an hour and it won’t go through,” he said.

I replied, “Okay, let’s have a look.” We walked over and got under the trailer he was working on, where I could see a dimple in the rail and lots of heat-blistered paint. “Let me see your drill.”

I looked at the heat-discolored bit in it and realized he’d been trying to make his hole with the drill in reverse. I told him, “It’s because the drill is going the wrong direction.” He said thanks and I left him to continue.

Another half-hour passed and the bell for lunch rang. As I walked past his bay, I saw him under the trailer, with the drill still in reverse, trying to punch the hole from the other side of the rail.

Not About To Have An Opening

, , , | Right | October 17, 2017

(Our building used to be located opposite the town library, but separated by a busy two-lane road. We have just moved to a new purpose-built building on the other side of town, when I get a call.)

Me: “Good morning! This is [College]. How can I help?”

Caller: “Yeah, get me the number for the library!”

Me: “Sure, I’ll just put you through to the campus library.”

Caller:No! I don’t want no crappy campus library! I mean the real library opposite you. I want you to go look at the opening times.”

Me: *speechless* “You want me to walk to the other side of town to the main library just to get their opening times?”

Caller: “I don’t see how it’s hard; just look out your window!”

Me: “We have moved buildings to the other side of town, so even if I wanted to, I couldn’t do that. You can either call them or go online to find out that information.”

Caller: “WHAT F****** GOOD ARE YOU?!” *hangs up*

Time To Adopt Plan B

, , , , | Learning | October 16, 2017

(I balance my course load like this: Every semester I choose the highest-intensity class that I can get access to, and balance that class out with the lowest-intensity class available to me toward my degree. That way, I have a consistent workload all four years — I have half of my classes that require a lot of focus and time, while I can breeze through the other half of my work, instead of knocking out classes “in order” and burning myself out by junior and senior year with an increasingly difficult workload with no break. Because I did this, by my last year I am frequently the only senior in a 100-level class full of freshman, like this particular class. I have known this professor for over three years, while my classmates were meeting him for the first time. The professor assigns us into groups for a project with a loose schedule for presentations to be finished over the next two class periods. The day of the first presentations, many of us are in the classroom early before the professor arrives, and I hear muttering all around the room.)

Student #1: “Uh, hey, we’re not ready to present today; can we switch with you and go Thursday instead?”

Student #2:No! We’re not ready, either. Maybe Group D wants to go—”

Student #3: “No way! We’re scheduled to go Thursday, and we need that extra time!”

Me: “Oh, for Pete’s sake.” *addresses the whole room* “Who’s ready to present today?”

(One kid puts his hand up slowly, but his partner slaps it down. No other hands raise.)

Me: “All right, guys, I’ve got this. Watch and learn.”

(Everyone settles down in their seats and the professor arrives in the room.)

Me: “Hey, [Professor’s First Name], does [Professor’s Son] know he’s adopted?”

(The professor whips his head at me with a scandalized look on his face, and the class freezes, wondering what h*** I unleashed.)

Professor: “Does he… know? Are you serious? Of course he knows! He’s black! Look at me; I’m white and Jewish! And you’ve seen my wife… well…” *turns to class* “—you guys don’t know my wife, but [My Name] took my wife’s class last semester. She’s Irish! [Son] knows he’s adopted; are you crazy?”

Student: “Wait, you have an adopted son?”

Professor: *beaming* “Yeah! Actually two of our kids are adopted…”

(My professor then goes off on a string of stories about the foster kids he and his wife have raised and the two they’ve adopted and how much of a nightmare the foster system is, their biological kids, a few trips to Ireland they’ve taken as a family, and several anecdotes about the kids in general.)

Professor: “Oh! D*** it, it’s already 2:30. Who was supposed to present today? Well, we’ve got fifteen minutes left… Nah, screw it. I don’t want to rush you guys presenting; there won’t be time for feedback discussion after if we do that now. Tell you what. I’m shifting everyone forward a day; we’ll just cut class early. See you Thursday!”

(As we filtered out of the classroom, the “kids” and I exchanged a nod.)

Their Writing Is A Write-Off

, , , , , | Learning | October 14, 2017

I am a writer for a magazine with a large, general audience. We publish a lot of profiles of college professors, and we always send them the final draft for “source review.” They can make sure their information is correct and that they are okay with any speech quotes that we’ve included. Many forget that the magazine’s writers are not their students and return the drafts without doing what we ask, but instead leaving comments, adding citations, and applying academic styles.

One took the cake, though.

I sent the profile for his review and he returned it with large sections completely cut, others rewritten to match his diction, footnotes added, and longer quotes from him that constituted half of the piece. It was essentially a list of block-quotes with a few citations and PhD-level vocabulary. To top it off, he sent me the document in an email that said, “Don’t be worried about using my writing; I don’t mind!”

We did not use his writing, his footnotes, or his giant block-quotes.

Too Lazy To Hide The Obvious

, , , , , , | Learning | October 13, 2017

At 22, I decide to go back to college and get some much-needed A-Levels, since I have none.

During the length of my course, we cover numerous topics, including one on politics and government. Perhaps because I am older and therefore more aware of the things that go on in the world, I tend to find this class rather easy.

Perhaps one of the best moments is when I and the laziest member of the class are asked to do presentation on a political party. It just so happens we get the BNP, which, for those unaware, is a very right wing party in the UK that is associated with very racist ideals. I do all my slides, and at about 9:00 pm before the deadline, my partner calls me to admit he hasn’t done any work. I don’t really panic; I just stick in a few slides to cover his work and figure he can sink or swim.

The next morning, we give our presentation, and my tutor calls it the best of the lot and praises the content and the delivery.

The next year, the lazy classmate is not invited back for the second part of the course, and I have a conversation with my tutor, who explains that the current group hasn’t done anything near as good. I own up and admit that the lazy classmate didn’t do anything, and that I did it all.

The tutor responded, “Oh, I knew as soon as you stood up that he hadn’t done anything; he never handed in a single piece of coursework. I knew it was all your work and that he was just reading the info on the slides. All the praise was meant for you, because, honestly, that guy wouldn’t scratch his own a*** if he thought he could get someone else to do it for him.”

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