The Father Needs Enrollment In A Humanities Course

, , , , | Learning | July 17, 2018

(I work at a community college switchboard and visitors center and, as such, I often get strange calls or visits. There is a line at my desk and I am helping the next person in line, a man in his 60s or maybe early 70s. I am in my late 20s.)

Man: “I’m here to ask about my son. He’s recently moved back home after dropping out of [Different College].”

Me: “No problem! Do you know when your son wants to start college?”

Man: “I don’t know. He’s a real dumba**, you know? He’d probably flunk out again, but I figure [Our College] is cheaper — is it, than [State University]?”

Me: “Yes, our tuition is typically [fraction] of the tuition price at [State University]. Do you know if he was interested in the next term, or perhaps next year?”

(The man answers the question, but continues to describe his son as lazy, dumb, a loser, etc. He does this gleefully and cruelly as if it’s funny or impressive, which makes me uncomfortable. It becomes clear that the man doesn’t know enough information for me to make a recommendation. That, combined with the fact that the potential student isn’t actually with him, means I can’t do much to help him, so I prepare to give the father a package of information to take home.)

Me: “Our enrollment information, requirements, placement test schedule, and calendar are all here. Your son can call, email, or visit us at any time with questions about getting started! Did you need help with anything else?”

(The man pauses and looks me over intently at this point, pausing to look at my chest for a few seconds, which is large, but is completely covered — there is no cleavage visible.)

Man: “My son is almost 30! Can you believe he’s such a loser? He’s actually here:” *the man turns to the next person in line, a 20-something that has been standing silently behind him the whole time* “Tell this young lady what you want; I can’t do everything for you!”

(I’m shocked that he has been standing here the whole time talking about his son this way, when he was right there. I turn my attention to the son to try and help him.)

Me: “I’m sorry; I didn’t notice you! What can I do for you today?”

(The son is pretty shy, but articulate, and tells me the information I need to diagnose his path to enrolling. The whole time, the father is still standing at my desk and watching the exchange, sometimes laughing at his son when he becomes nervous or stumbles. After everything, the son thanks me for helping him and apologizes for being confused.)

Me: “No need to apologize, really! That’s why I’m here! Do you need help with anything else while you’re here?”

Man: *interrupting his son* “Just one more: first, do you have a boyfriend, and second, are you looking?”

Me: “I, uh…”

Man: “I’m asking for me, not him!” *points to mortified son*

(I have very little experience with this sort of thing, due to a sheltered upbringing. I am unsure how to respond, much less while working, especially after the way he treated his son, and especially considering he is at least forty years older than I am.)

Me: “Sorry, I am not currently looking.”

(The man is still standing there expectantly. Customer service is important to my office, so I try and end the conversation on a positive note.)

Man: “Well, okay, I was just asking.” *doesn’t leave*

Me: “Oh, well, thank you for asking. I hope you both have a good day.”

(The son gave an apologetic look while they both left the office. I felt awful for him, but also incredibly creeped-out by his jerk father.)

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