April 10, 2008


Today there was a mini-revolt in my Calculus class. Professor Frightful handed out a take-home quiz on Tuesday that is due tomorrow. There were several classmates missing from the class on Tuesday and subsequently they didn’t get the handout. When they asked for the handout today (we don’t have class on Wednesday), he informed these guys that he didn’t bring any copies of the quiz with him but they were more than welcome to pick them up from the folder outside of his office door, where they have been stored since class ended on Tuesday. The couple of guys that needed the quiz threw a bit of a hissy fit and told him that he should have brought them to the class.

I’ll openly admit that I don’t care the teaching style of this professor, but for the first time in two semesters I have to say that I agree with the professor. It’s not his job to babysit his students and make sure that they get their assignments if they miss class. The quiz has been made readily available. The professor’s end of the bargain has been fulfilled. I fear this scene is indicative of a problem we may see in the up and coming generation. I can’t imagine missing a class (going to Ireland last semester about killed me as far as my work ethic goes, but it was worth it) and several students in the class miss multiple classes a week. I can’t figure out the logic behind that.

I’m starting to feel rather obsolete in my classes these days. During Surveying today one of my classmates remarked on how quickly I can run a calculator. When he asked why I was so proficient, I simply replied “The savings are amazing at Ames”, meaning that I was an Ames (and Hills) cashier at one time and in order to do my job I had to be able to be quick on the cash register. My explanation fell on blank faces as these kids had never known a retail establishment to be without scanning. Back in my day (God that makes me sound old), we had to punch in the eight digit item number (at least at Ames) AND the price of the item on every single item that went through the checkouts. Store employees received incentives to be really quick and accurate with their fingers. I was one of the fastest cashiers in the Jamestown, N.Y./Erie, Pa. district. The skill lingers with me today. Nevertheless, I felt really old when I realised that these guys had never seen a cash register without scanning. Imagine their disbelief if they saw the older mechanical cash registers where you had to compute your own change!

I wish calculus was as easy to comprehend as item prices and making change. I’ve been working on the aforementioned assignment (20 questions) for three and a half hours and I still have six questions to go. I’m flinging around variables and derivatives and prime variables like it’s nobody’s business and I haven’t a clue as to what to do with them when they land. Even the square roots look cranky.