500 Words At A Time: 15 Week Crash Course

There is an unmentioned aspect of classes or at least I haven’t written much about it, the social aspect. While my general disdain for students is well documented, there have been plenty of times where I have befriended students. However, there is a pattern to this and after the second year, a pattern I did not bother to change.

Week 1: Meet people sitting next to me. Generally this consisted of me observing them along with the rest of the class. Potentially a head nod, “smile,” or muted greeting. Unless the student was around my age, I prefer to keep my distance.

Weeks 2 through 14: Eventually find one or two students who don’t mind me and I don’t mind them. In general, they are students who keep the childish behavior to a minimum, try in class, show up to class, and otherwise make an impression upon me. Avoided like the plague are crotchtexters and disruptive students.

Week 15: Last class, say my “goodbyes” and other than seeing a them in a hallway never see them again. Just like when you leave a job.

There have been notable exceptions, but age (mine), experience (mine), and other circumstances (mostly mine) see that these exceptions have not lasted much longer than the 15-week pattern. I’m trying to think of a way to write about this social pattern. Not blame, but explain in a clear way.

As a 40+ year old person I have done a lot and seen a lot. There is not much new to me in regards to the “college experience.” I did my partying. I did the girlfriend thing. I did the stay up all night. With the exception of joining a fraternity I did the “college experience” many years ago. I am not interested in doing it again and I really don’t have an interest in people who are either.

I understand their need to party, to procrastinate, and all of that. This a time for them to experiment and find their way. This understanding does not mean that I want to be around it, listen to or talk about it. Plus, my age has a “parenting effect” on conversations. Its a weird effect, but one I have seen way too many times. The things I say often get treated as if their parent said it. It makes for an odd situation, because I am not interested in being their parent, but there is that social mechanism in place and it is a shortcut to the end of conversations.

For those people who I do befriend, it is always around a shared interest such as video games. In fact, video games comes up a lot. I do like my games; all games not just video games. As much as I like to talk about games, I like to talk about a lot more than games. In fact, unbeknownst to anyone here, I do not like most gamers. Years of working in a game store and even more years of socializing with gamers has me very weary and bored with most gamers. If the only thing you can talk to me about is games, even games I like, I get bored. When I get bored, I move on. Unfortunately, this is a time when many of the students are learning their social skills and learning that they can not only be interested in more than one thing, but that the various things they are interested in can intersect in all aspects of their lives.

Another weird social interaction is when students try to be like me. I know that sounds weird. But there are people who see what I do, listen to what I say, and try to emulate me. Unfortunately for them, they do not see the work I have put in both in class and over a lifetime to be able to do what I do. Thus, when they attempt to behave like me in class it gets awkward. When they can’t write or perform like I do, things get strained. Suffice to say, I keep an eye out for people trying to do what I do.

I haven’t even gotten into the parenting and/or authority figure social aspect…guess that is another 500 Words. 🙂

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