Monday, July 29, 2013

Terrifying Class of Terror

      I think most of us have had those teachers/professors that just simply enjoy pushing the envelope. They have, what some call, a "power trip"; they enjoy lording their power over their helpless pupils, inciting fear and disdain amongst the class. And for what reason? Who knows. Maybe they thrive off fear. Maybe they're just mean people by nature and have no motives. Again, who knows; in the end it doesn't really matter, because any way you slice it, it's still an awful situation to be subject to that kind of authority.

     A year or two ago, I had one of those professors. At the beginning of the very first class, before even reading the syllabus, he promised that he would personally offend each and every one of us by the time the semester ended. As the semester progressed, his promise began to come true. Slowly but surely, he'd cuss some student out, disregard someone's idea as being "complete rubbish" and even insult people based on appearances. Every single class I would walk in basically paralyzed with fear; "Would this be the day he takes ME down?". Class after class, nothing happened. The fear grew... Even as I gripped the doorknob leading into that classroom the fear gripped my heart twice as strong. It was on one such day that my fated encounter with the professor occurred...

     I was late to class. He always ribbed on the kids that were late to class. He'd make a spectacle of them, make an example of them. Knowing that to be my fate, I looked through the window in the door into the classroom. Good; he was writing on the board; if I could just manage to get in quietly enough he wouldn't notice me... This was gonna take skill.

     I turned the knob expertly, avoiding the inevitable "creak" it produced if turned too quickly. Slowly, I pushed the heavy wooden door open, so as not to catch his peripheral vision. The whole time, he was focused on what he was writing on the board, while talking to the class. He didn't notice me! I'd done it! I had just silently shut the door and finished sneaking to my seat, I was just about to sit down, when, without turning from the board, I hear him.

Uh oh... Fear pierced my heart like a fiery arrow. My stomach churned. I knew I was gonna get it. My time was up. So long, pride. Time to brace for humiliation...
I pivoted around on my heel slowly to face the direction the voice had come from. "Y-yes, Doctor?" I managed to squeak out in my sheer terror of the situation. I was dying. The whole class was staring at me, mouths agape half from horror and half from the sadistic expectation of the scene about to unfold. I was beginning to wish I had played truant that day.

     "Thompson. Did you get a haircut?"
Oh no. Here it comes. He's gonna make fun of me now... The eyes of my classmates were as big as saucers, they were practically drooling over the whole thing (classmates are sadistic and will take all manner of pleasure from the misfortune of one of their own, you see). "Yes sir... Yes, I did." Surprisingly I managed to say that with a mite of confidence.

     Everyone was on the edge of their seats, waiting to see how horribly he would insult me, how he would destroy every last bit of self esteem that I had.

     Not once during this whole charade did the professor avert his eyes from his task at the blackboard. Not once did he turn his head to see me enter the room, it was impossible that he had been able to see me and realize that I had gotten my hair cut.

     A few moments of silence as he continued to write on the board. The tension in the air was so thick, and oh was he loving it. The power he had over me, over the whole class, as he simply stood up there writing on the board... He was loving every second of it. Sadist.

   "Thompson, you got a haircut?"
 " Y-y-yes... Doctor... Yes I did..."
"Looks good. Suits you well. Sit down and open up to Don Juan."
".....Yes, Doctor..."

     I slowly turned around and took my seat. I looked around at my classmates; not very surprisingly, they all had looks of intense disappointment on their faces. They had wanted a yelling match. A scene. They didn't want to see the Doctor compliment me and then continue about his business. Heck, even I didn't really want that. But that's what we got. I got out my book, turned to Don Juan, and sighed the biggest sigh of relief I possibly could. Life went on.

      I only had one close call with him after that. I was turning in a late paper. I had to go up to his desk, in front of the whole class, and turn it in. I was expecting him to yell at me for it, since he technically didn't accept late papers.
     I walked up to his desk. His nose was buried in a stack of lesson plans, he seemed really quite vexed and flustered. I thought it might be best if I return another time, perhaps after class, when all of a sudden I hear a sharp "What?" I looked down at his face, now fully out of the papers and glaring at me. I made sure to make eye contact and try to appear confident. "Hello, Doctor, I've got an assignment I'd like to turn in... I know it's late, but I emailed you about it and...." It was at this point that I noticed him staring at my face.
     Oh no. Here it comes... His eyes were locked with mine, his mouth agape with what I took to be disbelief at the audacity of my turning the paper in late. I stared back into his confused gaze. We looked into each others' eyes for a really uncomfortable amount of time, before I asked meekly "ummmm... Doctor, are you okay?" As if snapping out of a trance, he shut his previously agape mouth, kind of shook his head a little, and averted his eyes from mine. He sort of muttered "I'm sorry, it's just... your eyes..." Confused, I said "umm.. I'm sorry..." He looked back into my eyes, and almost fell back into that trance-like state, and said "your eyes... they're grey... intense... beautiful..." At this, my cheeks instantly reddened and I felt the need to get away from that desk. I could hear my classmates snickering behind me. I awkwardly apologized again and put the paper on his desk and returned to my seat. The Doctor still seemed a little out of it, distracted. He sat at his desk in silence for a while. My classmates gazed from him to me and back to him again. Nobody could figure out what had just transpired. I just sort of slumped down in my seat, hoping nobody would notice me for the rest of the class. Eventually the Doctor regained his composure and began class. I was worried that the girl sitting next to me could hear my heart beating out of its chest with terror. She asked me what he said to me. I just told her "he got freaked out by my eyes." She turned around and we all opened our books to Ozymandius.

     He never did humiliate me. Confuse me, yes; humiliate me, no. He broke his original promise, and I'm thankful for that. But every class, I lived in terror, waiting for the day that wouldn't come.

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