Monday, November 17, 2014

But where are the ping-pong balls?

It's not every day that the college president name-checks Captain Kangaroo at a faculty meeting, but on a Monday full of odd moments, that one was just the tip of the oddness iceberg. 

There was the extremely large man with earbuds in his ears who fell asleep in his chair in the waiting room at the hospital so that this petite young woman in a scrubs who came to fetch him for his tests had to find a way to wake him up: pull out the earbuds so he can hear or just poke him? What part of an extremely large stranger's anatomy would you poke to wake him up if you didn't want to startle him into falling off his chair or injuring someone? 

And then another young woman in scrubs told me she always gets the needle in right the first time but left me with THREE separate bruises on two different arms, for an average of 1.5 bruises per arm. "You'll feel a little stick," she said just before she drove a needle right through my vein and out the other side. "Is it still hurting?" she asked. "It shouldn't still be hurting." Eight hours later, it's still hurting.

There was the sudden blinding snow that made my six-block drive from the hospital to campus treacherous and persuaded me to leave my umbrella in the car so that I was totally unprepared just seconds later when the snow turned to big fat cold raindrops. 

Then there was the first-year student who e-mailed me to insist that he doesn't need to use any sources for his research paper because he's writing about a topic he knows so well that he doesn't need sources. I've heard a lot of amazing excuses from students but I think this is the first time a freshperson has claimed to be the world's expert on a complex problem of contemporary life. Clearly someone doesn't understand the assignment.

Then the meeting in which we reviewed survey data showing that our students claim that they're not writing drafts (on what planet?) and they're not doing the reading (no surprise) and they're not talking to other students outside of class (what?) so it's no surprise that they claim to rarely learn to think differently about anything.

And then the other meeting--the one that invoked the name of Captain Kangaroo, whose gentle antics would probably appear moronic to the Sesame Street generation. I loved Captain Kangaroo! And I loved Bunny Rabbit and Dancing Bear and especially Mr. Moose, who made ping-pong balls fall from the ceiling for no apparent reason. I don't recall ever wondering whether some ordinary guy might be manipulating those puppets just out of sight, but apparently there was such a guy name Cosmo Allegretti, and I would love him just for having such a great name and for being Mr. Moose if I hadn't just learned that he, sadly, died just about a year ago but not before arranging a generous bequest to his alma mater, which would be the college where I teach.

Mr. Moose saves the day! It just doesn't get any odder than that. 

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