March 23, 2014

The Grumpy Side of 60 - Even grumpy old people need kudos

Two weeks ago I was starting to get a complex. Feeling stupid at the science fair, finding out my brain power was going down the tubes, forgetting an appointment, and the ultimate insult… having an 8-year-old stick her tongue out at me.

Not to mention never having any messages from my students in my message box. It was a tough two weeks.

I’m happy to report the last two weeks have been better. Well, except for one of my grumpy buddies at Kiwanis. No sooner had I sat down and started eating lunch when he said “Hey professor, I’m mad at you!”

“Huh?”

“I’m mad at you!”

“Because…”

“I went to a furniture store to look for a new chair and this sales woman comes up to me and starts giving me the pitch.”

“Yeah? So?”

“So she was good! Wouldn’t leave me alone; had an argument for everything, no matter what I said!”

“Okay. So what does that have to do with me?”

“She was one of your students! That’s what. I asked her where she learned to do that… she said in Bob Robinson’s class. Communications!”

He told me her name. Yeah, I remembered her. She was one of my “A” students. I grinned.

So that was good… but then there was the little girl who didn’t want her picture taken. Her brother was delighted, even stopped working on his chocolate milk, but she wanted nothing to do with the camera. Mom had to coax her. “Remember? He took your picture at the parade? You were happy about it then.” She’d been hiding her face behind her hand (sound familiar?) and I was getting ready to move on when she finally gave in.

Picture turned out great, even if mommy did have to talk her into it.

Seems like my “complex” was spilling over into this week. I’m typically a “glass half full” guy; on Monday my editor complained I was having one of my “glass half empty” days. Not that he cared; just thought it worth a comment. He wasn’t even sarcastic (that was a shocker).

On Tuesday I told him to give me a topic for my column. He said… well, I won’t tell you what he said. It really was a pretty good two weeks but I have this thing about patting myself on the back.

“Do it. Nobody else will.” Okay.

Every semester I meet dozens of new students, most of them high school kids. I try to teach them to really learn to communicate. Ethics, teamwork, sending, receiving, feedback, respect for learning, and diversity… especially critical thinking. Like they’re bringing back into schools now… deep not wide. Every once in a while I run across a former student; he or she will say hi, maybe even stop and talk for a minute. Monday was different.

A student from last year waved at me to stop while I was on my way to class. She gave me a hug and said “Thank you! I wanted you to know I really miss your class. I changed my major thanks to you… I’m going to major in communications or marketing now. I really loved that class; I wish I had more like it.”

Then she told me about the job she just got.

“I had a phone interview,” she said. “When we were finished the interviewer said he had never interviewed anyone as young as me who was as self-confident and comfortable as I was.” She paused. “Thank you,” she repeated. “I got that job because of what we learned in your class.”

I remembered her. She was one of the class leaders, so I wasn’t surprised. She was sharp. It still made my day and taught me something I guess I need to remember…

Even grumpy old people need kudos sometimes.

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