A Reflection for ARTGD 300 (or a lesson in karma)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A copy of this memo was recently mailed to me by my friend in Chicago. I don’t know why he sent it to me — it was not accompanied by any other note. But I can imagine that it’s meant for a good laugh, and nothing else. He’s that kind of a person.

The memo was originally written by a design professor when my friend and I were in college. Let’s call him… Carl. He taught the highest level of graphic design history you were required to take as a foundation-level student. Someone stole his wallet near the end of the semester, and he basically wrote this memo to tell us how sorry he was to not be living in a world where you could trust each other. We all felt shameful, broke down and cried for his forgiveness. Well, not really. If only it was that simple…

More background story… At the time, I didn’t know many people who enjoyed Carl’s class. It’s not that the material covered wasn’t interesting. But he came off as an obnoxious know-it-all who thought so very highly of his knowledge in design history, and he seemed more interested in flaunting it than teaching it. If we showed any sign of being distracted (hello, we were in college!) in his class, he didn’t hesitate to put people in a spot and humiliate them in front of the whole class.

Carl assigned seats, and took attendance. (Again, this was college!!) He called on people least likely to know the answer. He publicly called attention to students who were late to his class, even though he didn’t know the circumstances. He might have been a respected professor for whatever he did before we met him, but most of us just thought he was a pompous asshole who didn’t respect or trust his students.

Sometimes you look back on those teachers and professors you weren’t particularly fond of, and think, “Wow, I’m a better person now because of that teacher.” Sometimes you just learn to appreciate the different curve balls they threw at you much later in your life. Not with this guy. We didn’t like Carl then, and we don’t care for him much now.

I’ve had my wallet stolen before in my life, so I know how violated and frustrated that can make you feel. There’s not much you can say to redeem something like that. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to accuse 100 people for one person’s crime. The worst part about this memo is that Carl is using this to vent his anger, but he passive-aggressively calls it “a reflection” — like it’s our lesson and not his (like, don’t treat your students like stupid little children, and then leave your fucking wallet in a place where they can easily steal it).

I’m not trying to condone stealing, but the way this guy reacted — after all the distrust and disrespect he showed on all of us — was, well, laughable. So that’s what we did. And for whatever reason, my friend found it and decided to mail it to me, just for laughs. It’s just as good the second time around.

Crummy for Carl, yummy because it’s still funny.

2 Responses to “A Reflection for ARTGD 300 (or a lesson in karma)”

Joe Mills says:
Wednesday, March 26, 2008 @ 2:00 pm

YUMMY!!!!! At one point in my life, I kept any little scrap paper I found “significant”…this was one of them. So, after going through some of my things recently, I came across it….took a picture of it (just in case I ever wanted to read it again…and laugh)…and then sent it to you since I knew you would appreciate it.

The way you feel about it now (and then) is the way I will always feel about it. I would have MUCH rather had him stand in front of class, say something to us like adults, and then leave it at that. Like you said, this was not “our” reflection…it was his.

p auL says:
Tuesday, April 1, 2008 @ 5:26 pm

You stole it, didn’t you?