You can cut me in line at Hewitt. You can cut me in line waiting for books at Butler. But cut me in line at office hours? Punches may not be thrown, but words will be exchanged.

Friday morning, a crime so egregious that God Herself would feel compelled to make an appearance on Earth was committed against me; someone crossed my name off during office hours before my name was called. And I’m not talking about any office hours. I am talking about COMS-W1004 office hours. Yes, those office hours in that class. If you know anything about the class, you know that it is hard, especially if you are like me and have no coding experience. It is also time-consuming. The instructor knows this and provides a multiplicity of office hours during the week and weekend to help students. I, like many others, put my name down on Friday morning, needing help with our latest problem set. It was then, perhaps 45 minutes into the session, when I returned to the sign-up sheet and saw my name had been crossed out entirely. 

I was but an anonymous alligator now crossed out on a google doc full of anonymous animals. Perhaps you were the faceless cormorant or hyena. Or, more fittingly, the Kraken because you enjoy sinking ships—I don’t know. What I do know, is that you decided your time was much more valuable than mine and crossed my name off the waitlist. It was an act of such malice, I can only imagine what state you must have been in to do something so abominable for a thirty point assignment whose questions more or less mirrored one another.

This class is no easy feat. But all 380 of us (although I am going to assume you are part of the 150 who only show up for in-class exercises and quizzes) go through it together. I can’t imagine the attack was personal because there are too many people. Perhaps I made it onto the front page of the zoom screen once and served as a massive annoyance to you. So much so, you wanted to give me my comeuppance. Fine. You know our class zoom link is always open. Meet me there the day your finals end and I’ll laugh and laugh at you and your pitiful desperation. 

But let’s get serious for a second. Perhaps you didn’t think about me or the ramifications of what you have done. I want you to know that going to office hours is always an ordeal for me. I am a very anxious person and something as vulnerable as office hours only exacerbates my nervousness. It was hard for me to stomach the idea that I needed help and someone was actively trying to prevent me from getting said help. I’m sure you didn’t think about me, and I was just another 0 or 1 that exists to repeat itself. You did not grant me the same individual recognition that I am granting you. But, still, in writing to you, I am combatting the generalization and carelessness you imposed upon me when you decided to cross my name out that morning. 

And, if we are being honest, that is what bothered me the most. It wasn’t the decision to disregard my request for assistance during office hours, no. Rather, I could not fathom why you chose to cross my name out instead of just deleting it altogether. A strike-through is so ~performative~ and noticeable. Were you trying to give me a scrap of dignity? Did you want people to know that I had a problem but figured it out before the TA could help me? Make no mistake, I do not need your pity. But, that’s not really what you meant.  You’re clever—not clever enough to do the entire problem set without help—but nonetheless, you remain clever. Even if it appeared that I solved my issue all by myself, you and I still know the truth. You wanted to do me a favor all the while partaking in a forced secret that I would have never let you keep otherwise. Every sword is double-edged and yours is particularly sharp. 

I am projecting. I know that, I do. But the thing is, I don’t care that I am. You hurt me beyond reconciliation. And I’ll forgive you even though you don’t deserve it because I am capable of displaying feelings of empathy. So meet me on the zoom link. I’ll be there every hour of every day of finals, ensuring a spot on the front page. And you’ll see me and be forced to confront my individuality and my being. In doing so, I hope you will repent and reform.

Could I beat them in a fight? If my white belt with yellow tape from 5th grade is good for anything, this must be it. But I’m not a violent person, so no. 

Self-defense tip: Never accept but always offer eggs in this trying time.  

Anonymous Coder via Pixabay