The Flash Is Late

| Learning | April 14, 2014

(My high school’s English department has a standing policy that all essays are considered to be turned in on time if they’re given to the teacher before 3:15 pm. The school also has a draconian ban on using any kind of USB drive; the only way to move files between the school computers and your own is on a CD. I have an English essay due today, but since part of it is saved on the school computer, I bring the rest in on a CD intending to print it out in the library before class. When I go to print, I can’t open the file, so I take it to the librarian/tech person.)

Me: “I’m trying to load an essay, but the CD isn’t working.”

Librarian: “Here, let me take a look. Huh… it looks like the data was written incorrectly. I can tell there IS something on it, like it tried to copy the file. But you’re right, it can’t be pulled up.”

(She tries a few more times, but nothing. I’m getting worried, since this is a big essay worth a huge chunk of my grade. By some stroke of luck, the assistant principal happens to come in and picks up on what’s going on.)

Librarian: *to Assistant Principal* “She’s trying to print an essay, but the file on the CD is inaccessible. I can SEE that it’s here though.”

Assistant Principal: “There’s no way to get it off the CD?”

Librarian: “No.” *in a respectably snide reference to the school policy* “If she had put it on a flash drive, it wouldn’t have been a problem.”

(I end up explaining why I had to bring it into the school and that my laptop isn’t the most reliable, and taking responsibility for waiting until the last minute. Surprisingly, they both take my side and we agree that, because of the policy of accepting essays until after the end of the school day, I can call my mother to bring in my laptop with the essay on it so they can use the faculty email system to transfer it and as proof that I did in fact have the essay done on time. The assistant principal even volunteers to talk to my English teacher, whom the students know to be strict and have an attitude. I soon get to my English class…)

English Teacher: “Where is your essay?”

Me: “Well, I tried—”

English Teacher: “You don’t have it done?! You know this is worth 20% of your grade in this class! I don’t know how people even get into an honors class when they don’t do their work!”

Me: “I brought it in on a CD, but the CD didn’t work. [Librarian] said she could see that there was data on it, but the computer couldn’t read it.”

(As I’m trying to explain, with her rolling her eyes at me and obviously thinking I’m just making excuses, the assistant principal comes to speak with her. The teacher doesn’t say anything more. Later, I’m called out of another class to get my laptop. The assistant principal tells me to take it to show the English teacher the finished essay. Since her current class is doing speeches, I politely wait until the speaker is done before entering.)

English Teacher: *seeing me walk in* “What do you want? I’m in the middle of a class!”

Me: “I wanted to prove that I had my essay done on time, so I don’t get penalized. I have my laptop here with the second part of the essay finished. The first part is on the school computer.”

English Teacher: “It’s not my problem if you can’t get your work in on time!”

Me: “Look, I know Mr. [Assistant Principal] told you what happened—”

English Teacher: “I don’t want to hear it. Get out!”

(Irate at the dismissal and fed up with the whole situation, I hold her glare for a few seconds, then look around at the shocked students and finally walk out and go back to the front office.)

Mother: “Well, is it all taken care of?”

Me: “Nope. She kicked me out of her classroom.”

Mother: “Figures.”

Office Worker: “Is this Mrs. [English teacher]? Yeah, I had her when I was a student here. She can be difficult.”

Me: “No kidding…”

(I printed the essay out right after school, before the deadline, but I had to just leave it on her desk since she wasn’t there. Needless to say, I got it back with a massive F and the word “LATE!” obnoxiously written all over it. I barely scraped by with a C in the class, and, though no one ever said anything to me directly, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t entirely a coincidence that the school changed their policy the next year to let students use flash drives.)

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