by Jason Love
November 15, 2004
8:00 a.m. I arrived at class glowing from the hypothalamus. I was so excited to be in school again. Let's face it -- you can only learn so much watching Jeopardy.
The teacher glided into the room and introduced herself. She smiled with a sense of humor, for which I was thankful. The world is divided into haves and have-nots: those who have a sense of humor and those who do not. After asking us to turn on our computers, she asked if we had any questions. While most of us chuckled at the joke, an elderly woman in the front row raised her arm and said, "I keep turning it on, but the screen is black, here, see, black..."
The teacher surveyed the situation. "That is the power for the monitor, Gladys. Here is the power for the computer..."
Now, I'd be remiss to attack the elderly because it is, after all, everyone's goal to become as old as possible; but this woman must have been exhumed to attend today's class. I believe that human beings become more valuable to their community as they mature and that elders should be respected according to the wisdom they amass. Gladys did not fall into that category. In fact, she was unfit to handle a butter knife.
I don't think that Gladys was a product of age. I got the feeling that she had spent her entire life on people's nerves. Regardless of how she arrived in her present condition, she had single-handedly squished my smile.
The teacher returned to the front of the class when Gladys posed another question: "What if nothing happens when I type here, see here?"
The instructor peeked at her terminal and explained that she had to first open a program, preferably a word processor. But since this was a graphics class, it would be more appropriate to open Photoshop. Nice segue.
The teacher gave us an instruction, and Gladys asked for help. The teacher gave us a second instruction, and Gladys asked for help. At length, we finished Lesson 1 and were dismissed for a snack.
Nibbling on a Snickers in the break room, I watched Gladys toil at the vending machine. First, she couldn't insert her dollar bill, then she couldn't decipher the letter/number combinations, and finally she forgot her change, as a passer-by pointed out. And I was almost 35 cents richer. Kidding.
We reconvened 15 minutes later and started Lesson 2. With every instruction came a question from our friend in the front row. And each time, the class waited while the teacher visited her terminal and completed the action for her. I wondered how Gladys had made it to class at all. The thought of her driving terrified me.
What compels me to write, however, is not the age or condition of this woman but the fact that we had all paid a truckload of money for a class that would be compromised by one overdemanding student. And whereas I should accommodate the handicaps of others, the fact that people learn at different speeds, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and our Photoshop chain was, well, senile. So it goes.
The teacher gave another instruction. Gladys had another question.
The teacher took the mouse and restored the program, which Gladys had accidentally closed.
"See this 'X' at the top? That will close the program if you click it."
On the board up front, there was a list of 10 lessons scheduled for this class. The day was almost over, and we had not reached number 5. Be that as it may, I decided that brooding was bad form and that I should e-mail friends instead. Because I don't have any friends, the notion dried up as quickly, and I returned to brooding.
Gladys asked the teacher why her picture looked different than the others. The teacher explained that she was on the wrong page. In fact, she was on the wrong lesson.
I vowed that when I returned home, I would give my wife express written consent to shoot me if I ever got to the point that I cannot operate a snack machine.
When the class ended, I waited to speak with the teacher. Unfortunately, she was preoccupied with Gladys, who wanted clarification on "that arrow thing." I loitered a bit longer, but it became clear that Gladys did not need to draw breaths in order to speak. It was a trick she learned on The Other Side.
Leaving the class, I heard the teacher say, "No, Gladys. Your right. No, the right. No... Here, let me show you..."
Yes, honey. Just shoot me.
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