The webcomics blog about webcomics

The Short Version Is Work

The longer version is OMG, WORK.

There have been times I’ve needed to take a skip day because I’m experiencing technical difficulties or am limited in network access; I don’t like doing that, but I don’t beat myself up over it.

Then there are days (like all of them so far this week) where I am seriously exploring career alternatives (get out of technical training of database administrator-types, get into, oh, sheep-herding) because of the people I’m having to interact with. If you teach adults (as I have done for pert-near 25 years now), you end up categorizing students into certain lists:

  • Competent
  • Will Be Competent After This Class And A Little Practice
  • Scary Smart, Why Are They Even Here?
  • I Need To Buy Them A Beer Because They’re Awesome
  • Pain In My Ass
  • Pain In Everybody’s Ass, Not Just Mine
  • Unable To Follow Directions If Their Life Depended On It
  • Unable To Pay Attention For More Than Twelve Seconds At A Time
  • Clearly Sent To Class To Give Colleagues A Much-Deserved Break
  • Unable To Participate In Modern Technological Frameworks And Baffled By The Very Concept Of A Computer

90% will fall into one of the first two categories; the Beer category is occupied by a guy named Wayne who came to class with his seeing-eye dog, Abby and learned database administration by hearing alone. And I have two students who have managed to put themselves in all of the last five categories, one of whom comes Top Three Ever on those lists.

Worse? They’re spreading. People that were good for the first two days of class are losing the ability to spell or remember their passwords. I think it’s probably a sociological effect that Shankar Vedantam could explain where they see that the poor performers are getting all my time and they want some of my time to, so they’re performing down to where I have to spend that time. This has provoked an actual, spontaneous head-desking this afternoon, because I’m not allowed to use bad words at students¹.

So here’s the deal — there’s stuff I want to talk about, but I am so mentally exhausted that I can’t do the subject matter justice. I learned long ago that if I don’t throw myself headlong into the job, if I don’t to some degree jduge my own worth by how well my students do, I can’t teach. It’s not healthy, I really should learn to step back or even half-ass it a little, but it doesn’t work for me. As a result, I am only capable at this time of complaining about work², because I am spending all of the time I normally get to think about things not work — lunch, breaks — trying to drag them kicking and screaming into something resembling learning.

I’m going to bed. I will try to get something webcomicky up tomorrow, and I thank you for your patience.

Hello, $name, Good day.

Oh, good. Somebody less technically capable than my students. This is oddly comforting.

¹ I expressed to my boss that I am seriously considering drinking heavily before noon for the remainder of the week.

² While reminding myself intellectually that I am very well compensated for my work, that it’s hardly ever this bad, that I never have to deal with these problem children again after Friday. Also, I am extremely grateful that they’ve all managed to stay off of the Too Stupid To Live list, which is occupied solely by one guy who managed as a result of his actions in class to get himself, his boss, and his boss’s boss fired. Ask me about that sometime when there are drinks.

No drinks here. Just an appreciative/horrified acknowledgment of what must be one train wreck of a story. Wowzer!

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