Tag: WTF Moments

“I was not calling you an asshole”

“I was not calling you an asshole” is something I just had to say to a student.  I must explain.

Class ended.  My students had mostly left the room, except for one guy (leather jacket guy).  He mentioned the professor that teaches in the room before me and how she must love purple.  (Honest to goodness, she wears purple clothes, shoes, lipstick, and her hair is even purple!)  I explained to him that I could probably do that with hot pink.

He said, “Even the hair?”

“Oh absolutely!” I replied.  “I had hot pink hair when I was younger.  I was goth and tried out every hair color at least once.”

“You were goth?!?!” He asked, exasperated.

“I sure was, but I acted the same as I do now.  I was always happy and chipper.” I explained.

It was at this moment that he was nearly to the door while the other students for the next class were coming in.  He made a grand hand gesture and said “I can’t even believe that you chose to dress like that (grand hand gesture) when you act like this! (another grand up and down hand gesture).”

The young lady that entered the room had this insane look on her face and she looked mad.  Like how dare he say that to me?!  She had fire in her eyes and a look on her face that told the entire story.  I said “Oh….no…he was reacting to the information that I used to be goth.  He wasn’t being an asshole.”

It was then that I realized if he heard only part of that response, he might take it wrong, so I call after him and say “The girl that came into class only heard your last statement about how I dressed and act and she was very upset.  Just to be clear, I defended you and said that you were only reacting to a previous conversation and that you are definitely not an asshole.”  He laughed and we chatted for another minute.  To end, I reiterated, “Ok, well, I just needed you to know that I was absolutely not calling you an asshole in any way.”

I turned around to use the elevator and saw 3 other professors looking at me like I was absolutely insane.

I took the stairs instead of the elevator.

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Campaign ads and…Incest?

The title cannot adequately describe what happened while teaching yesterday.  Clearly, an explanation is needed.

Yesterday, is one of the days that I teach.  I have 2 classes, and the professor I TA for was going to sit in on the classes.  This is not just any professor.  This is THE most badass political scientist in my field.  Yes, I may be a bit biased, but he is one of the two professors who made moving from the warmth of the South to the craptacular weather in the Midwest worth it.  He, of all people, was going to be sitting in on my classes to evaluate me.  Oh.My.God.   I was already a bundle of nerves and felt like dying.

The first class went off without a hitch.  My students were talkative and fantastic.  They enjoyed the exercises and the selected campaign ads.  I was able to speak and have a decent discussion with Dr. Amazing in the room.  Naturally, I felt confident going into the second class just an hour later.

I shall interject a thought at this point.  I have learned that whenever I begin to get confident, something usually follows to bring me back down a peg or two.  I must have done some really really crappy stuff growing up that I don’t even remember doing because this backlog of karma bites me in my ass every single time it can.

Class number 2 begins and I felt like I was rocking it.  I had pulled up the 5 campaign ads I was showing, I handed out the surveys I had lovingly crafted, and began showing the first one:  I Like Ike

Somewhere in that pause between completing that ad and opening up the It’s Morning Again in America (Reagan 1984) ad, the Campaigns circa 1800 theoretical ad began playing in the silenced audio-visual equipment land.  YouTube was on autoplay (apparently) and that short little ad had finished and went on to an episode of Drunk History.  For those who may not have seen Drunk History, its a show where they get Historians rip-roaring drunk and have them explain a story from history.  Naturally, it gets a little wild.

I go to show the Reagan ad and un-mute the AV equipment and there’s good old Drunk History talking about INCEST!  And that guy is talking about incest in a way that only a drunk historian can.  Something along the lines of “Incest, just plain old incest” came out of the speakers as a boat calmly sailed on the harbor in the video they were supposed to watch.

“That’s not it!  THAT IS NOT IT!” came flying out of my mouth as I struggled to mute the AV Equipment quickly enough.  I figure out the problem quickly and in an effort to save face, I roll with it.

“I am so glad that this could happen when Dr. Awesome is with us today” and do my best Vanna White impression toward the screen.

Death would have been a welcomed friend.

I pulled it together, played the remaining ads (Reagan’s, Campaigns circa 1800, Daisy Girl, and Obamaville) and we had a lively discussion regarding all these fantastic ads.  We discussed the primacy of affect (Zajonc 1980, 1984; Lodge & Taber, 2005; Casino & Lodge, 2007) and how individuals make candidate evaluations more on their summary tally of emotional impressions (Lodge, McGraw, & Stroh, 1989; Lodge, Steenbergen, & Brau, 1995).  We talked about why attack ads are advantageous.  If an individual votes against Candidate A, then Candidate B basically has a free pass to do or say whatever they want.  A person voting against Candidate A will not be persuaded to change their minds.  Voting against someone is basically more resistant to counterattitudinal stimuli (Bizer & Petty, 2005).

As soon as class was over, Dr. Awesome bolted and on the inside I was like “NOOOO!  Wait!!”

I drug myself up to my office floor, stopped to my friend’s office (which is the first office beside the elevator), told her the story.  I then drug myself to my office, flopped down, put my head on my desk and told my office-mate (the guy one).  We all had a good laugh, while I felt like dying.

The only thing that cheered me up and made me feel okay was calling my professor, mentor, and friend from undergrad – Dr. Batman.  He got his PhD from this same university and knows all of the professors.  I explained the event and he cracked up.  He then said “If you get any trouble from it, remind him that you are my student, so what could he expect?”  Then he gave me about 10 insane stories of things he messed up working with Dr. Awesome that made mine pale in comparison.  Clearly, he wasn’t fired – so neither will I.

I can now laugh about this, without wanting to simultaneously die.  Who knows – maybe Dr. Awesome will like me more now.  Who knows?!

Things Students Say

At my university, if you are funded as a grad student you will either be a TA (Teaching Assistant) or an RA (Research Assistant).  For this first year, I am a TA.  My first semester I was put in front of 4 classes of 25 students each and told to go for it.  It was a bit scary at first, but I can say that I honestly loved my students.  I would joke and say that I had 105 children because I thought so highly of my students.

As a way to hold them accountable for weekly readings (besides tests) I required them to submit “Critical Thought Nuggets” – just little tidbits of thought they had while reading the chapters.

This is where I will put these wonderfully epic snippets of things my students wrote (or said) to me from the first semester.

“Uncle Sam sounds like the name of a really creepy male stripper.”     Week 1.  We were clearly off to a good start

“Did the great depression and economic low point have any influence on the constitutional convention?”

“How can American have 2 candidates that are either racist or broke the law?”  You have no idea how many times I was asked that (and similar questions).

“I don’t smoke marijuana, but I think it should be legalized.”

An essay titled “Weed and States”

“Gay.  Gay is a word that not only separates us from each other but causes so many arguments”

“I feel like Rosa Parks did absolutely nothing all she did was just say, “NO” and sit down.”

“If Trump were to say…’be put out of commission’ and Hillary were to go to jail…”

“During the state of the union, do they really have a ‘designated survivor’ at another location?  I sure hope Sec. Kerry isn’t the designated survivor.”

“Final thought…. Rational Choice Model…Nothing about this election has been rational.”

And then some serious ones that I want to remember forever.

“At the end of our discussion last week, you ended on the topic of the fact that we don’t know how our present history is going to affect US citizens in 20 years.  This thought really impacted me and the way I look at this class and our present political time period.  I never thought about the fact that we don’t know how our government and society is going to change based on events happening currently.  This point really made me think and this is why I really enjoy coming to your class, so thank you.”

“So I am very upset.  I don’t understand how to deal with this.  So I am just ignoring it all – coping is very odd for me.  I just want everything to be okay about this.  Like, I don’t know, this election has been hell.  No one really understands how to deal with this.  We are people.  I know with being white and to have this privilege to not care if I wanted to, but my friends are scared out of their minds.  I am afraid.”

“I hate this because now I have to watch my back every time I leave home.  I have to be in fear now that my family can get hurt.  My family is Mexican and citizens but we are already looked down upon.  I have to much hate and anger right now.  This is my country and it is failing me.  I’m American but I’m not treated as such.”

“I called my mom to tell her about your class.  I hated politics and thought I’d hate this class, but I love it.  This is my favorite class.  It’s the only class I want to come to.”

I had students who chose to share their histories, their pain, their fears, their tears – without any prompt to do so.  I was unprepared for the love I’d feel for them.  I was unprepared for how special each and every one of them would become to me.  Yes, they say silly things.  They may have poor grammar at times.  We all do.  But they were MY students and I am proud of them.

I will end with one thing I wrote as a 19 year old in college to show that they are not alone in saying weird things.  “This idea brings back the idea of ideal versus real.”  Yes, I wrote that – in a final paper.  There is always hope.