Sunday, December 13, 2009

I can't quite believe it

But this semester is over. I turned in my grades Friday (after dealing with a few of the standard, "Can't you do extra credit just for meeeee? I won't TELL anyone" e-mails. And at that point I'm not concerned about hurt feelings any more as I won't have to see these people (well, most of them) again, so I just sent a flat, "No. I can't do that." to them.)

I did make an error on totaling the grades in one class but fixed it after a student very politely called me and said, "I totaled up my grade and it shows me with a 70% but your total shows a 67%. I know I did poorly on one of the tests but I didn't think that was bad enough to drop me that many points. Would you please explain how I calculated wrong" I recalculated her grade and found an error, told her that yes, she had earned the C, and that was what she was getting, and then went back and recalculated all the grades. Turns out I had left one paper out of the accounting, so many of the people who did that saw their grade go up (there were a lot of people really close to a borderline and this paper was worth a fair amount.) The people who didn't do the paper - too bad, so sad. Better luck next time. But how much more likely was I to consider her request because she said "please" instead of going in, guns blazing, telling me I was WRONG from the outset (even though I was WRONG. And I told her I was, and thanked her for the heads-up.)

I wrapped up some research stuff that I wanted to get done - didn't NEED to get it done, could have waited until January, but I decided it was better to get the data collection done now.

This was, as semesters go, fairly hideous. It was saved by my having a good ecology class (and NO plagiarists for a change in that class). But my other classes had all kinds of either whiny and immature, or bad-attitude-followed-by-whiny-when-they-found-out-skipping-assignments-earned-them-a-D, or bad attitude in general, people.

I hate to say it but judging from my "service" class, the caliber of college students in this country is going down. Oh, maybe not the smarts, so much (but maybe that too), but the sense of responsibility and the sense of independence. I had people I practically had to hold the hands of the entire time. Which is effing exhausting. And which makes me realize that I'm glad I never became a mother because I don't think I could TAKE someone needing me like that 24/7.

(Though then again: I'd probably have wound up with a child like what I was, where if you gave her some crayons and a stack of paper, she would occupy herself happily for several hours. I was a pretty independent kid and remain an independent adult, which is why I think the level of dependency demonstrated by a few students irritates me so much. Being independent is Not That Hard.)

And actually, to tie this in to what I will be doing in the coming days: I think in general there's either an assumption or a reality that people have become less capable of taking care of themselves. When I take the train, I have noticed in the last year or two, they have become much more insistent and paternalistic with their announcements, like Do Not Smoke in the Lavatories than they used to be. Or if the dining car is running late and reservations are being called in late, they have to announce at every "time" there would be reservations coming up, "Please wait for us to call you; we are running late" even if there have been NO stops with anyone getting on between announcements. It's like people are becoming more like children, and not in a good way.

Me? I just need to be told once and I get it. (And I wouldn't smoke in the lavatories anyway, even if I did smoke.) And I admit a tiny bit of annoyance at having to hear the same dang announcement ten times because some person obvy wasn't paying attention and is now harassing the conductor.

(Actually, on my Thanksgiving trip I saw this. I had Special Snowflake woman in the next compartment - first of all, she and her (adult) son got on, and she got all cranky because the compartment they bought was a "roomette" meaning one of them would have to climb up into an upper berth. Well, that was just UNACCEPTABLE because she was an old woman and her son had back trouble; couldn't the car steward just give them a second compartment? Well, he sold them one, for part of the way, but told her, "When the people SCHEDULED to use this room are supposed to get on, you will have to vacate and let me clean it." And then she demanded the beds be made up early. Then she demanded extra pillows and blankets and sent the steward off to search for them. Then, she and her son missed their call for dinner, and the steward had to get them a later reservation. Then, the next morning, they apparently missed the three calls for breakfast, and were **very upset** with the steward for not coming and PERSONALLY inviting them to breakfast. And that he would have to bring them their food because the dining room was full and was taking no more people on the waiting list. And then when he did, he'd have to make up the room, because there was no way they could eat in their beds. And then, complained that the food was getting cold while he was making up their room.

I hope to heck she tipped him well, but I bet she didn't.

I always was kind of surprised when people who have manned the train when I've been on it before remember me - surely they see hundreds of people in a week - but it may be they do because I'm quiet and say "please" and "thank you" and tip them and just kind of "roll with the punches" of stuff that happens in travel (like delays) and am just generally not a Special Snowflake. Funny, I never thought that kind of thing was rare - I just thought the way I behave was Expected and Typical, but maybe it isn't so much any more.)

But anyway. In a few days I get to get on the train again - this time, at a time it is less likely to be super-crowded with people who don't travel often and who have the Queen Mary mindset about traveling. And then I get to see my FAMILY (not a Special Snowflake in the bunch) and have TIME OFF to RELAX and maybe I'll get to see some real snowflakes.

I really, really need this break. It's been a brutal semester.

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