V3 Hits a Do Not Pass Go; Do Not Collect $200 Bump in the Road

October 23, 2009

Usually, V3 is chipper and upbeat (without being so positive and idealistic as to ruin my usual grimly cheerful cynicism. However, one day I found her is a very discouraged, melancholy state of mind.

I inquired about the cause of her distress.

She told me she was in her first semester of graduate school and having a terrible time in one of her classes. She felt like she wasn’t understanding any of her assignments; the professor was constantly criticizing and demeaning her work; in general, she wasn’t sure she was going to “make it” in terms of her dream of becoming a librarian.

I gave her a little pep talk, telling her that I had a similar experience when I started graduate school I also told her that quite a few professors get their main pleasure in life by destroying vulnerable and insecure students.

“Every truckload of apples is bound to encounter a rotten barrel now and then,” I told her. “Also, it takes a while to learn how to spin whatever style of bullshit is in vogue at the present time. Not everybody learns to wade through the muck successfully right away. And though they try to keep it a secret, there are a few decent professors as well. My suggestion is to just do your best this semester and give yourself a chance. If the next semester is as bad, maybe it is time to drop out or commit suicide or some such radical action. However, I suggest you keep plugging ahead for at least your fist year and see if things get better. You strike me as an intelligent and competent person; you’re obviously doing well here at the library; don’t give up on yourself yet.”

Apparently, I bucked her up enough with my pep talk; she promised not to give up until she was into her second semester.

I didn’t see her again until she had completed her first year. She was ebullient and cheerful again and told me she was doing fine in school. She also indicated my pep talk had helped her get through her difficult first sememster.

She graduated, was promoted to a good position, and worked at a distant branch in the mountains for a year or two. Every report I had indicated she was doing fine. The library system (like community colleges) employs a lot of half time people.

For some people, who need a full time income, the library system’s penchant for using part time workers is very exploitative and stressful. For others, with enough income from a spouse to not need a full time job, or desperately trying to lose weight (so they can benefit from starving for a while), they are able to survive a job and a work environment that might be toxic if full time. V3 fell into this fortunate group. However, the last time I saw her provided a piquant twist that lives fondly in my memory, as I will relate in the final episode of this series.

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2 Responses to “V3 Hits a Do Not Pass Go; Do Not Collect $200 Bump in the Road”

  1. David Says:

    Good for you, for giving such excellent advice. And you’re quite right, that half the battle of succeeding in college is learning to spin the prevailing bullshit.


  2. I’d say that spinning the right brand of bull is at least three quarters of the battle. It was very kind of you to give her that pep talk, you must remember that speech if I ever decide to continue my education. It has a good success rate!


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