Thursday, September 01, 2011

Entitlement and helplessness

This is the kind of thing that frustrates me.

First example: I was announcing in class what lab the students were doing this week. One women pipes up: "I CAN'T find the LAB in the LAB BOOK. You DIDN'T put that lab in the LAB BOOK." Very snarky, very nasty. Now, granted, maybe she was having a bad day - I don't know her well, yet. But the tone of voice and the accusation that I had screwed up put me off.

So I sighed, I asked, "Does anyone have their lab book?" One of the guys raised his hand, I walked over to his desk.

He had the lab book open already to the "missing" lab. So I told everyone what page the lab was on.

But that's a behavior I see sometimes: if it's not immediately obvious, the person shuts down. They complain. Instead of asking for help, they accuse the person who might help them of making things "too hard."

And I have no patience for that any more. I think it's two-fold: first, my parents taught me from the time I was a little kid that if things don't work the first time, you try again. Or you try something different. Or you politely ask for help. You don't shut down and go, "I CAN'T DO THIS" and then accuse other people of making your life difficult.

And second: there have been a lot of times when I would have welcomed help...but either I didn't know where I could ask for it, or the help was not forthcoming, or the person who said they'd help me flaked I was stuck doing it all myself.

I don't know. I wonder at how people get through life without any sense of persistence. I see a few students every semester like that. I can only assume they manage to get people to do stuff for them, or they've expected stuff for so long.

Also, last week, I had a woman - not in my lab - burst into my late-afternoon lab, demanding the use of a cell phone. I pointed out the lab phone on the wall but apparently that was not good enough. She continued to demand a cell phone (maybe she only knows how to use that kind of phone?). One of my students surrendered his, she took it, and then CALLED HER "DADDY" AND TOLD HIM WHEN AND WHERE TO PICK HER UP.

I didn't throw her out of lab because I thought she might have some emergency. Nope. We got treated to her argument with "Daddy" about where she wanted to be picked up.

After she handed back the phone (this week, one of my students joked, when I brought the incident up, "I thought she was going to walk off with it" and I said, "Oh, I was prepared to tackle her if she did") and stormed out, I just stood there with my mouth hanging open - where and how does someone learn it's appropriate behavior to walk into another person's class, while class is going on, demand a cell phone, and then subject us all to her loud and demanding call? (And what's more? She stood between me and the students while she did it).

The final incident: we have a designated faculty lot. We pay extra for permits for that lot. I am happy to do that because it means I have a space, and if I have to leave campus midday and come back, I can get a space when I come back.

But now, the students are complaining: why should the faculty get the close spaces? (Because, um, some of us come in before it's light, leave after it's dark, carry multiple heavy textbooks and equipment, and are older than most of the students?)

My department chair is bringing the issue up...gently...but I fear that our faculty lot may become "open parking" thanks to the demands of the students. (In which case, I hope they will refund me the fee I paid for a reserved spot...)

She says that a student parked there the other day, got a ticket, and then, she caught the student throwing trash around the lot as "retaliation" for the ticket.

This is the kind of thing that makes me hate people. The person who gets stuck picking up the trash (likely it was my chair) did not give you the ticket. Throwing trash around will not solve your problem. You're only making other people's lives worse because you're pissed off. STOP IT.

I don't know. I hope the "entitlement behavior" people I have seen recently grow out of it FAST, because they just make the more mature people miserable. (I have had some of my non-trad students come and commiserate with me about the behavior of the "entitlement cases.")

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