Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tuesdays at School

Wow, it's been a while. I'm kind of ashamed of myself, to be honest. Well, nothing like a fresh start (at 1:15 am) to get me back into the swing of things.

I would like to share with you my latest stupid student story. Now, I want to take a moment to clarify that I do not think all of the students at CSUN are stupid, but there are quite a few when, after attempting to aid in the solution to their their most current life or death situation (please sense the sarcasm here), I am left only to shake my head in wonder that such students are able to walk across campus without their mommies. Now on with my story.

Today was a fairly uneventful day at work. I was actually able to sit relatively uninterrupted at my desk for several consecutive hours which resulted in the knocking out of a load of paperwork that had been accumulating for quite some time. Tuesdays are nice because I get to shut down my desk computer at 6pm and mosey on up to the "Counter" for the final shift of the day. The counter is an area where students are able to order transcripts, change their majors, apply for graduation, and ask all sorts of questions that may or may not be anything we can answer in Admissions and Records (which doesn't stop us from trying). We generally have two or three shifts at the counter per day, and I honestly enjoy myself up there. It breaks up the day nicely and it gets me out from behind my computer and away from my eternally ringing phone. I like the counter until I have to deal with God's curse to the Universe: spoiled rotten, whiney students with a sense of entitlement that even Paris Hilton can't match. And so enters my last student of the day swaggering to the counter with a form in hand that has been mailed from an auto insurance agency. The student needs us to verify that the GPA is above a 3.0 and that the class load is considered to be full-time.

Just for a bit of history, I'll explain to you that I had to go through the same thing when I was in college: every semester I drove across town to my auto insurance agency with a form from the school stating that I was, indeed, still eligible for the much coveted "Good Student Discount." Never once did I walk into that office and berate the poor employee's intelligence or knowledge, nor would it ever have occurred to me to do such a thing. I was raised to treat people with respect and dignity and was under the impression (until I began working with the general public many years ago, and more specifically in the food service industry) that others were raised with the same ideals and principles.

To make a long story short, and to preserve a greater level of anonymity for privacy's sake, I will not go into details except to say that the student was not eligible for the discount based on the criteria listed on the form. I explained calmly that I was unable to verify this information and listed the reasons. At this point, the student erupts--a veritable Mount Vesuvius of anger and outrage at my unwillingness to help, exclaiming, "I don't understand why you're making this so difficult for me!" Me? I am making it difficult? The last time I checked, I was not the author of what requirements a student must meet in order to receive a good student discount.

The most outrage-inducing portion of the exchange between this student and me was when I was accused of being ignorant and that this student has been attending the school for years and it's never been a problem up until this point to just get this (insert multiple profanities here) form stamped and signed. I was, according to him, screwing up the system with my incompetence. Well, maybe--just a guess--in previous semesters we were able to sign such a document with clear conscience because the student actually met the qualifications. The student would not take my word for it (after 10 minutes of continuing to spell out the limitations the school has in FALSIFYING INFORMATION), and so I got my supervisor so that she could repeat exactly what I had been saying for the past 10 minutes, but with the authority of the title "supervisor" behind her (and a motherly raised eyebrow, which, I know from experience means "Do you really want to push the issue?"). She was able to send the student scuttling away from the counter, tail between legs.

The moral of the story? Be nice. Treat people with common courtesy, and watch out for the raised eyebrow because it has the power to make even the toughest of the tough feel remorse for his actions.