5/21/12

That's Just Mean!

I don't know what sparked this memory, but it's here so I'm going to share.  When I was in college, there was a professor who was known to be very difficult.  He was hard to win the respect of, he was very condescending, and he really did seem to enjoy making people uncomfortable.  Needless to say, I did what I could to stay away from this particular professor.

But the time came when I had to take one of his classes.  I was intimidated for sure.  In fact, if you knew me at the time, you would have been surprised because I chose to sit in the back of the room.  I learned very quickly when I started my college career that I needed to sit up front if I was going to learn anything; less distractions.  Anyway, I sat in the back of the room for this class.  I listened to everything the "man in charge" said.  I took my notes and did my homework.  I hated just about every second of it.

One day, he asked the class a question.  When no one responded, he decided it was time to pick on me.  So he called my name and asked the question again.  I was pretty nervous but I was prepared so I was trying to quickly gather my thoughts to answer.  Apparently, I wasn't quick enough because he chose the moments where I paused, to call me out in front of my classmates and accuse me of not being prepared.  He assumed I had not done the reading.  Well, I had done the reading.  I did have an answer.  And I did not like being ridiculed in front of my peers.  Especially for something that was not true.  So, when he was finished, I spoke up.  I explained that I had done the required reading and that I had just taken a moment to collect my thoughts before I began to speak.  Then I took another moment to gauge his reaction before I went on to answer the question.  And I answered the question with great detail and insight I might add.

What bothered me then, and still bothers me today (almost 13 yrs. later) is the look he gave me once I defended myself.  I had looked him straight in the eyes as I explained my momentary pause.  And I could actually see his level of respect rising for me.  By the time the question was answered, he was smiling.

I don't understand why some people feel they need to belittle or intimidate other people.  I also don't understand why those same people respect the people who stand up for themselves.  A good friend of mine was also in this class.  She ended up in tears the few times she went to see him.  I had passed some kind of test with this man.  And for the rest of the semester, he was different with me.  He would joke with me.  When he called on me, he acted like he expected me to have a good answer (which of course I did, haha!).  I didn't like it. I didn't like watching the other students squirm in their seats.  I do not like being pushed into a corner and that is how he was making me feel.  I just reacted to this feeling.  And for this instinctive reaction, I was rewarded.  This man was just being a bully in his own classroom.  I think it is sad there are people like this.  But the truth is that they are out there.  I haven't always been able to stand up for myself.  But I did on this day.  After all this time, this experience has not been forgotten.  Some people are just mean.

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