Yesterday, scrambling for time and footing (the icy byways of winter-time Cambridge are nothing if not treacherous), I stumbled (literally) into a(n unknown) Professor’s office, rummaged through my bag, and abruptly shoved a paper into her hands. Cue autistic music.
Truly being polite (given the circumstances), the professor let out a breath of air and suggested I might want to introduce myself. My first thought? Just shove it. (skip to 1:28). Today was not a good day. I was tired, harried, and honestly confused about who I had and hadn’t already told about my recent decision to switch majors. This professor’s required signature was nothing more than perfunctory; in 2 days, I won’t even be part of her department.
Nevertheless, my introduction as necessitated an explanation of my major change (from Neurobiology to Philosophy), my reasons, the classes I will be taking, my previous meetings with numerous members of each faculty to get it approved, etc, etc, etc. I was tired of it. (1:46).
Still though, I did honestly feel bad. I had arrived unannounced with no introduction and demanded she sign my form (though I did, to be sure, say ‘please’). In the blurred, fast-paced world of college, academia, and students who get overly caught up with their own issues, life can seem a bit…unusual. What’s wrong with me? indeed.
On the way back home, I seriously considered sending the Professor an explanatory email explaining my harried demand and apologizing for my lack of, *ahem, social poise. Then, I imagined her response. (0:47). Perhaps my (sub)conscious imagining of what she might say was right. Maybe the professor would have been duly pissed off at my indifference, disregard for social norms, and expectation of her signature without any proper explanation. Maybe in the end, that’s why the world is such a problematic place; someone makes a simple mistake, which then gets transferred and amplified to others. Pretty soon, we’re all bitching at each other. Maybe we could all use some help.
Don’t get me wrong. It was clearly me who screwed up. I am Rihanna in “Unfaithful” not “Take a Bow” (stroke of ironic genius or inconsistent songwriters? You be the judge). Still though, my faux pas was not intentional, nor was it malicious in origin or intent. I just experienced a moment of social retardation. Perhaps if I had just taken a deep breath before walking into the Professor’s office, if she were trained in the art of telepathy and could immediately understand my predicament, if we attended marriage counseling twice a week for the next two months, she might better understand what happened.
In the end, though, what we probably need is not some global psychiatrist session. Some of us (namely, those with the tendency to act autistic on occasion) could do far better with a bit of social training. Other might benefit from a bit of patience, plenty of slack to give, and a vivid imagination to explain away the inconsistencies of other people’s behavior that so often piss us off. At the end of the day, maybe the best we can hope for is just to go on with open eyes and a forgiving heart. Maybe we all need to just live our lives.