Some people, noting my above-average attention to detail, my tolerable, if not particularly inspiring, memory for factoids, and my presumed willingness to endure being disgustingly underpaid, have suggested that I give up life among the willfully clueless (if you're reading this and you're wondering if it's you, it's you) and take on an honorable profession which is always in need of quality bodies.

In short, they think I should teach.

I think this is a really bad idea, for one really good reason:

I. Have. No. Patience.

It's true. I am the world's worst tutor. Few prospects fill me with as much apprehension as having to train someone for something, not because I am unprepared on the subject matter far from it but because I expect the trainee to pick up on things with incredible speed and not ask why. And I have always been like this; ask any surviving family member who's willing to discuss the topic, and you'll find that I have the deskside manner of Genghis Khan with a toothache. (My brother quotes me as saying "I was doing this crap in third grade," and I have no reason to dispute the accuracy of this quote, especially if, as is likely, I was doing this crap in third grade.)

What is most remarkable about this is that in other aspects of my existence, I am content to wait: like Dickens' Mr Micawber, for something (perhaps better) to turn up; for opponents to get bored or go away or drop dead; for the True Love I've technically written off. But put me in charge of the learning experience and I have all the calm of a Visigoth with a testosterone patch. Multiply this by a class size of ten or fifteen or thirty and you're looking at a capital-I Incident waiting to happen. I wouldn't wish this on the nastiest bunch of middle-school malingerers in the entire district. And God forbid I should actually show up at a faculty meeting: the English department will have to send someone over to translate from Anglo-Saxon.

Career change? Sure. I'd love to. But don't stick me in front of a bunch of people who want to learn things. The lesson they'll get from me is one they won't like. At least they'll get it in a hurry.

The Vent

1 July 2005

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 Copyright © 2005 by Charles G. Hill