Politeness 101

And along with the fatigue factor I have the problem with those back to back classes of repeating myself.  I can’t remember what I said to one class so that I don’t repeat myself in the second. But for some unknown reason I am saying quite different things to these backs to backs.  Perhaps the first is sort of warm up for the second, where I get low down and dirty.  I don’t know.

But I do know I have asked students, no, I have told them, if I am repeating something I said before please let me know that’s what I am doing.  And not once, over 26 years, has one damn student said, hey, Tingle, you are repeating yourself; when I know for a fact that I have repeated myself because half way through whatever it is I am saying I will remember that I am repeating myself.  Lord knows, since they won’t say anything, how many times I have repeated myself without knowing it.

Not recently, but I would at one time give students a lecture in the first week about how it was their duty to tell a teacher when his fly was down.    Remedial politeness required it.  One day I was walking away from my class and looked down and my fly was open, and I was pretty sure I hadn’t stopped at the bathroom, so clearly my fly had to have been down during the class.

I got back to the office and zapped off a email to the entire class. Boy, did I let them have it about their failure to do their duty and about their apparent willingness to see me humiliated for an entire class without my knowing it.  What kind of people were they?  By the time of the next class, I had pretty much forgotten the fly thing though I ask if they had received my fly email, and one of them seemed sort of upset and said that she had not seen my fly down and as far as she was concerned it had not been down at all.  And a couple of others chimed in and said my fly hadn’t been down.

I said, you’re lying.  You guys are fucking with my mind.  Don’t fuck with my mind I said.  And then I laughed and said, you know, one quarter I had these two guys in my class.  They didn’t look alike really except maybe they both looked like skateboarders; and the first day of week of class, I screwed up somehow and I called, one guy Bob, when in fact the other guy was called Bob, and I called the other guy Dan when in fact the other guy was called Dan.

And the next class when I called out Bob’s name Dan said present and when I called out Dan’s name Bob said present.  And the next class they switched back to their real names and since neither of them said anything but their names the whole quarter that might make me remember one or the other, I just couldn’t figure out which was which.  I would call roll and say, you are really Dan, right, and not Bob.  But they wouldnot  say and down to the end of the quarter I didn’t know which was which.

And of course about half way through this story I realized that I was repeating myself.  I stopped and said, for God’s sake you were going to let me repeat that whole thing.  Didn’t I tell you to tell me when I repeat myself?  They said, no.