Monday, July 28, 2008

Destroy this mock shrine

Once upon a time, I worked in a phone survey place. After two days, I was "promoted" to editor since it was clear I had skills in this area...and I was a cute girl who smiled a lot at the boss. Make that a cute, SMART girl! Because doing the surveys was a total drag, man. A few days after that, I was made supervisor and put in charge of interviewing, phones, collating data, and, still, editing. Yeah, they had a turnover problem. Anywho, one day a guy came in, we interviewed him, hired him, and told him to report a few days later. That day arrived, and he was a no-show. A few days later, he called to say his sister had died and he had attended the funeral so of course he'd been unable to report as planned. We were very sorry and told him to come in in a few days.

And that might have been the end of the story. However, I had recognized this guy as the son of a man who had worked with my father when I was growing up, a man with whom our family was close, so of course I was upset to hear about his sister's death. Ours was a very, VERY close-knit community, and I knew my father would want to know, so I called and told him the news. He was shocked and immediately started calling around to our old network to see if we could get some more details and if we could help. However, it turned out it was hard to get in touch with the family, and no one he spoke to seemed to have heard of the tragic event. Finally, it turned out that both this guy's sisters were alive and well. Indeed, his father was very upset to hear that the son had been, umm, claiming otherwise, to put it delicately.

The guy never showed back up to work. Draw your own conclusions.

I am reminded of this story whenever I teach. Every single semester and every summer term, I can't count the number of grandparents, aunts, uncles, or best friends' best friends who "die." Students show up with these tragic tales, and you can't claim they're lying because, well, what if they aren't?? So you have to accept what they tell you and move on. But seriously, if this many people are dying, no one should ever send their children to college. It's FATAL! The only bright side is summer session. When these students disappear during summer sessions and then reappear, they have always missed too much to make it up, and so you have to break the news to them that, in addition to the tragedy, they have now flunked your class. Funny thing is, no matter how often I do this, and I do it often, the students never seem all that broken up about the F or the death. Go figure!


Transient Gadfly said...

Dude. Rock on with your early Death Cab reference.

Kathryn Maughan said... grandma DID die when I was in college. But I didn't skip out on papers and homework. I told my teachers I would be taking a week off, and then I came back and made up all the work. Though there was a story about a Columbia grad that year: Columbia had "recommended" him for medical school and then rescinded it. The teacher with whom he'd bonded over his sister's fake death mentioned this in his letter of reference, Columbia found out and rescinded the rec, and then he was denied entrance to all the med schools he'd applied for. The guy committed suicide.

Lilita said...

omigosh, that's the worst story ever! fake death and real suicide?!! I'm feeling guilty all of the sudden, and I'm not sure why!

Kathryn Maughan said...

It is pretty grisly. Students don't think. On a lighter note, when I was a sophomore in high school my friend faked her fake sister's death just for attention. My parents figured it out by calling her mother's boss. She wasn't my friend much longer. The guy whose attention she sought (principally; she wanted it from everyone) ended up marrying her. And yes, he did find out.

Lilita said...

Kathy wins the prize for best (and worst) fake death stories not garnered while teaching! Holy cow!!

Becca said...

Spencer's grandfather did die at the end of one semester. He lived in Orem so we had to host Spencer's family. I had never met him because apparently it didn't cross Spencer's mind to tell his new wife he had a grandfather the next town over. I have to say that I did miss an exam, probably because I didn't attend class much and really didn't know when it was. It was very handy using that excuse though.