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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.


, , , , | Working | January 13, 2022

During my last year of college, in the early oughts, I used to work in a campus computer lab as a tutor/technician. My job was to perform routine maintenance on the computers and help the students and teachers who needed assistance. It was pretty simple; people could book a time slot in advance, and then there were a few computers that could be used on a first-come-first-served basis for quick errands like checking email or making printouts. Since both the students and their teachers were notoriously bad at planning ahead and always expected this to be everybody else’s problem but their own, there was always a line to those computers.

One beautiful afternoon, I need to make a routine update on one of the “quick errand” computers. I know the program will take a while to run, so I write a large note which I tape up so it covers almost the entire screen with the message, “Update in progress. DO NOT TOUCH.” Then, I go about my usual tasks, helping people with whatever they need help with.

After a while, I notice a student sitting at the computer I’m doing maintenance on, so I walk up to them. They have removed my note, shut down my update, and are on the Internet.

Me: “Sorry, what are you doing?”

Student: “I just need to check my email. No one was sitting here so that means I get to use it, right?”

Me: “No, I was trying to update it. Now I have to start over from the beginning. Didn’t you see the note I put up?”

Student: “Oh, I was in a hurry. I didn’t think it was important.”

Me: “Well, it was. You’ll have to wait your turn on one of the other computers or book one in advance.”

I shoo them off, restart the update, put up a new sign, and go back to what I was doing. Five minutes pass, and when I look up from what I’m doing, I notice another person sitting at the computer I’m working on. This time, it’s a teacher.

Me: “Excuse me, you can’t use this computer right now. I’m doing maintenance on it. Didn’t you see the sign?”

Teacher: “Oh, it’s all right. I just need to make a few printouts; the printer in my office doesn’t work. I really need to get this done before my class starts. It won’t do any harm, right?”

Me: “Actually, I was running an update on it, and this is the second time I’m going to have to start over because people can’t leave it alone.”

Teacher: “Really, how bad could it be? I need to get this done for my students. It’s not the end of the world.”

I look at the teacher. I look at the flash drive they’ve got plugged in. Then, I look back at the teacher.

Me: “Do you know which program I am trying to update?”

Teacher: “No, what?”

Me: “The security software. It stopped working on this computer. I wouldn’t plug that drive in anywhere else if I were you.”

The teacher went pale, snatched the drive out, and fled.

To be honest, it probably wasn’t that bad. It really was a routine update, but I was fed up with people not being able to follow very simple written instructions.

In the end, I shut down the computer, removed the power cord so no one could try to restart it, and waited for my coworker to come in for their shift. I then stayed behind for half an hour so I could finish the update while guarding the computer like an extremely vicious computer watchdog.

It’s probably been about twenty years since, but I still marvel at the fact that so many people with an upper-level education seem to be completely unable to read a simple sign.

Shout-Out To All The “Secret Old People” Out There!

, , , , | Learning | January 9, 2022

I worked as a tutor in my mid-twenties at the same time that I was starting to experience symptoms of chronic illness. As I was trying to find ways to adapt to my disability, I would occasionally have kids ask about what was going on. One student, a third-grader, was especially curious.

Student: “Why are you using that really fat pen?”

Me: “I have something called arthritis, where my hands hurt when I have to hold things that are small for too long. The big pen makes it easier for me.”

Student: “I thought that was something old people got, like my grandma. You’re not an old lady!”

Me: *Jokingly* “Oh, you got me. I’m actually a secret old lady.”

When I started wearing compression gloves, the same student wanted to know why.

Student: “Why are you wearing those weird gloves?”

Me: “Well, you know how I told you my hands hurt sometimes when I write?”

Student: “’Cause you’re a secret old lady?”

Me: “Um, right. These help with my hands, too.”

One day, I showed up to work with a cane. It was a big deal to me; I’d been hoping for months that I’d find the right medication before I needed to start relying on mobility aids.

The third-grader was in the lobby when I walked in and gaped at me.

Student: “Why do you have a cane?”

Treat Me Like A Dog And I May Just Bite

, , , , | Learning | September 16, 2021

I work as a tutor for research methods in psychology. This is my fourth year, and I must say that I absolutely adore my job! If I didn’t have to get up so early for it — 8:00 am class, urgh — I would do it for free.

The class works like this: the students come over, we hand them worksheets, and they solve the problems. If they have questions, they can ask one of us.

Normally, the students are super nice, thankful for the help, and sweet, but a few weeks ago, I had my first entitled student encounter EVER!

I was sitting on my bench, scanning the class for raised hands, and this entitled first-year student snapped his fingers and whistled, and as I looked at him in disbelief, he waved at me in this “Italian mafioso” manner — outstretched arm, chin raised, not moving his hand, just making a “come here” motion with his fingers.

Really, he did almost all the disrespectful “calling someone” behaviours at once. I think there would only be shouting “garcon” left for him to be more of an idiot.

My boss was sitting right next to me and all she did was raise an eyebrow.

I went over to the student, ready to rumble.

Entitled Student: “Yeah, I don’t know how to solve this problem. Can’t find the approach.”

Me: “Okay, if you have a question, I am happy to help you. You can raise your hand or call my name, just like the other students do. What you cannot do to call me is snap your fingers, whistle, or gesture like a mafioso.”

Entitled Student: “What? Why?”

Me: “Because I am not a dog.”

Entitled Student: “Oh, come on. It’s not such a big deal.”

Me: “Actually, it is. It’s not appropriate. And now you’ve been told that it’s not appropriate, so I know for a fact that you’ve heard me. If you want help, call one of us in an appropriate manner or no one will react.”

With these words, I turned around and went back to the bench where my boss was still sitting. I told her what had happened and luckily, she approved.

The entitled student sat there for a while, stared at his paper, then packed his things and went home. 

I think that he learned his lesson as, the next week, he raised his hand when he had a question.

Word Problems Require Weird Solutions

, , , , , , | Learning | August 18, 2021

I am a private tutor. I have given my fourth-grade student the following question: “Buses need to be rented for twenty-seven children going on a field trip. Each bus can take twelve children in addition to the driver. How many buses must be rented?”

Student: “I say two buses.”

The answer is supposed to be three.

Me: “How did you get two?”

Student: “Because it’s too expensive otherwise.”

Me: “Wait, what?”

Student: “Otherwise, you’d get three buses, but the third bus is only going to have three kids in it. That’s a waste of a bus.”

I burst out laughing. My student is giggling as well now.

Student: Or, how about two buses, and we’ll strap some chairs at the top so the other three kids can sit up there.”

Me: *Recovering* “That doesn’t seem very safe!”

Student: “Right. So it’s only for the bad ones. The naughty kids have to sit on the top of the bus while the good kids can sit inside. It’s cheaper and better for everyone!”

We drew a model of her bus prototype after she completed all the word problems. I love this kid.