Have been sitting in the adjunct faculty office most of the day trying desperately to catch up on grading this ever-ballooning mass of assignments — swear to dog, they are mating and reproducing in the file folders, the stack never goes down — and I’m also eavesdropping on the reaming out of a parade of group project screwer-uppers by another instructor from another department. And remembering my own creepiest encounter with a dissatisfied “customer.” It was in 1994? at a CC in western Washington. The student was only a little older than most of the class, but he was a Gulf War vet. In other words, he had experience in showing up on time for things. But elected not to use it on the midterm. And elected not to use it on the make-up time I was nice enough to schedule for him, as well. So I told him, no make-up. No more chances. He turned purple and stormed out. This was pre-Columbine but I was uneasy just the same. I ran over to my department office to preempt him, and he did show up there directly, and after he had cooled down a little I said, in effect, Look. I know you know how to be somewhere when you say you will. You’ve already proven that. Now take your education seriously enough to do it again, on your own behalf. He didn’t love it, but he dealt with it. And a couple of months later he was totally okay with me; in fact he asked if I’d be the faculty sponsor for his Second Amendment Club. (Time constraints, flattered, no thanks, etc.) So I didn’t die or make a lifelong enemy that day. Still, one has to tread carefully among the punji sticks of student self-esteem.

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