Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways?

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Tale of the Pooters.

Saturday classes are a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand, there are very few people on campus -- those who have to teach, their students, and Campus Safety. EVERYTHING is closed, or has very abbreviated hours. Book store, Java Junkie stand, library -- everything is shuttered on Saturdays. There are very few on-campus Saturday classes, so it's not unusual to be the only one in your particular building during your allotted course time -- particularly if the class starts at ass o'clock  on a summer Saturday (or 8AM).

This means that you can make noise with impunity, leave doors open to catch crossbreezes and relax classroom decorum a bit to include eating and drinking. It also means that you can turn a lecture on Poe in to a multi-classroom scavenger hunt or "CSI"-style investigation, to keep everyone interested and awake.

The downside is it's a very "Silent Hill" type of experience to have to unlock the whole building, turn on all the lights and vending machines and otherwise wander around a dark, empty classroom building well before anyone else is around. It ALSO means that anyone who wanders on to campus and has questions will take you for the Person in Authority that can answer everything. Enter the Pooter family.

I was whipping through my lecture, hoping to wrap up a half-hour early, when the classroom door banged open and in wandered three people of dubious provenance.

"HI!" boomed the father. "We're the Pooters! Y'all should be expecting us!"
One dad, a widely smiling mom (who looked like she had been carved out of Lily Pulitzer and cream cheese) and a very uncomfortable and embarrassed-looking young woman stood in front of me, waving a campus map.
"Uh, I beg your pardon? This is Themes in Literature Seminar. We aren't expecting anyone, and we're in the middle..." He barreled on as if he didn't hear me.
"Now, my daughter, Pitty Pooter, will be here in the fall, and we came up to poke around campus, but nothing is open. We'd like you to show us around."
"I'm sorry. Did you get a letter stating today was your official acceptance/orientation tour?" (I knew full well the answer was no, because official tours are scheduled for late July.)
"Yeah, but we wanted to have our own, hands-on tour. Now, show us where the bookstore is...you have keys? Can you let us in and sell us a sweatshirt or two? How about the cafeteria? Oh, and we want to see Pitty's dorm room -- I want to take a few measurements..."
"Sir, I am sorry, but I am not a tour guide, and I am conducting a class right now. I can direct you to Campus Security, but everything is closed, and you'll get more out of your offical tour later next month. Now, I really have to get back to teaching..."
"But who is going to show us this campus? Surely you can do that!"
"No, I really can't. I have to finish teaching the class that you interrupted. Now, Campus Safety should be able to answer some of your questions."

(It was a fine line because on the one hand, I did not want to alienate them, and on the other, I had to cover at least another hours' worth of material. I wanted to thump Mr. Pooter about the neck and shoulders with my Norton. Argh.)

I ushered them out in to the hall and gave them directions. Then I went back into my classroom and called Big Steve, the Security dude on duty, to warn him. I knew Big Steve was not going to be pleased, because Big Steve's idea of policing campus during the summer is playing WoW  and online poker, and not bestirring himself out of the air conditioned security offices unless he needs to piss, or hit the vending machines. Big Steve has all the personality (and personal aroma) of curdled milk, and the welcoming mien of a semi-rabid stoat with inflamed hemmorhoids.

Big Steve uttered a stream of profanities that did my heart proud, and was still cursing a blue streak when I hung up. I turned back to my class, all of whom had entirely lost their trains of thought.

"Guys..." I looked at the clock. The entire debacle had taken 45 minutes, and brought us to within 20 minutes of class being over. There was no way we were getting anything else done. "We'll catch up next week. Let's get out of here."
"Yeah, before they come back!" one student interjected. We all beat feet for our cars.

As I pulled out of the faculty lot, I saw Big Steve truculently leading the Pooters over dormwards, with a sour look on his face. I said a quick prayer that Pitty would not end up in any of my sections int he fall, because I get the sense that her parents are the Sikorsky of helicopter parents.


  1. Jeez - warn a guy before you tell a story like that (of course I shoulda known better). It is unpleasant when soda shoots out of one's nose...just sayin'...

    Good times...

  2. OMG. The "Sikorsky of helicopter parents" is the best analogy I've read all year. Way to turn a phrase, prof.

  3. Lol.... BT, DT.

    I have learned the universal solvent that dissolves such encounters, and ends them with utmost speed.

    "I am SO glad you are here! We need volunteers badly, and I've been told you are exactly the person we need on the Program Parent Organization committee! NO... No... we''ll find the time to get you involved real deeply!"

  4. I was thinking 'seagull' parents, but Sikorsky works too :-) What a day! LOL

  5. "The Sikorsky of helicopter parents."

    You win the Internet for the day.

  6. "Big Steve has all the personality (and personal aroma) of curdled milk, and the welcoming mien of a semi-rabid stoat with inflamed hemmorhoids."

    Have I mentioned lately that I adore you?

  7. Ah, yes, I know the type well from working in a campground. Normal office hours? 9:00AM to 6:00PM. 9:00PM at night, when I'm locked in the back office counting the closeout is when such special people decide that they want a campsite. Without calling ahead. No, they just show up and are pissed when you won't put them on the campsite they want. And then you tell them the list of available sites and they pick one, pay for it...and then go set up on a completely different site (always one that's been reserved and the camper is late arriving)...and get pissed when I make them move to the site they paid for...

    God I hate these self absorbed fuckers...

    (I didn't let my parents NEAR my campus until the day of graduation)

  8. You had me at who looked like she had been carved out of Lily Pulitzer and cream cheese...

    In your honor, I shall now go to Wikipedia or Dictionary.com to find out WTF is a "stoat."

    Thank you, toots, for expanding my word power!


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