Thursday, September 17, 2009

Welcome to the Real World

At some point in time, we all have a teacher who impacts us – who we never forget. In middle school, it was Mrs. Porter. In high school, Mr. Beeken took my love of music to levels I didn’t know existed. He demanded excellence in his goofballish ways, and we gave it to him.

In college, it was Susanne. Professor Gubanc, I think, was her official title (I just called her Goober to my roommates because that is what she could be at times!). She was the most liberal, feminist, lesbian woman I’ve ever known, but I learned a lot from her, I expanded the sheltered box I lived in my whole life. I still have my beliefs and morals, but I was not as close-minded after her class. She was eventually asked to resign, I think, right after I graduated, and she wasn’t the greatest professor necessarily, but she had more passion for what she believed in than anyone I know, and for that I admire her.

Susanne always preached to us about the “real world”. She had a zero tolerance policy when it came to assignments being late. There was no wiggle room because in the “real world”, she would say, you don’t get to forget about a due date, or get an extension.

One unfortunate Monday evening after I consumed what had to be close to an entire bag of strawberry twizzlers, I came down with the stomach flu. I was out on the hall sick much of the night. My poor roommate, Macy, sat up with me since I couldn’t sleep. At 3 a.m., there isn’t much on the tv – I think we ended up watching a show about implants or bras or something. I had the aches, chills, fever – all of it. It was one of the most miserable times of my life.

Knowing how Susanne was with her assignment due dates, I anticipated that I might not be able to complete a paper that was due for her class Wednesday morning. Seeing as I could barely move let alone type a coherent paper, I wrote her an e-mail Tuesday morning explaining the gravity of the situation. Her response: “I hope you feel better. The paper is due Wednesday.”

I made a miraculous recovery on Tuesday – it was thankfully just a 24-hour virus. I managed to get the paper written and probably did well on it. But that has stuck with me for years simply because of her unwillingness to compromise.

Now that I am part of the “real world”, I find Susanne’s zero tolerance policy completely erroneous. There are many times I miss a deadline, or have to call in sick and postpone a deadline. I don’t always get things done on time – who does? I still have a job. I am good at my job, in fact. So while part of me understands that I was still expected to complete the paper on time, I am also insulted that she did not have enough trust in me to know I was truly sick. Simpson is a small school, and I had her for several classes –she was my advisor, in fact! She knew me well enough to know I was not bluffing. I was being proactive by e-mailing her ahead of time, yet it didn’t matter. I wish I knew Susanne today, because I would love to tell her what my “real world” like. And if there is a job that exists where you are not allowed one ounce of wiggle room, well, I am not interested in that job, anyway.

Oh, and to this day I still do not eat strawberry twizzlers….


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