Earlier this week I popped into college to collect my reflective journal from my counselling course…
Mr Bureaucrat-Administrator-Tutor-Man (I’m not even really sure who he is) has gone back into his office to find my friend’s journal. He’s already told me it’s highly irregular to pick up someone else’s confidential work, yet despite this infringement he deigns to show mercy and make an exception.
Thanking him on his return, I turn to go but am stopped by his statement:
“I think you should know that had you been my student it would have been unacceptable to hand in your journal like that, just clipped together. It should have been nicely presented in a ring binder. The same goes for your friend’s.”
I pause, uncertain how to respond.
“Sorry,” I say lightly, “if I’d realised that I would’ve handed it in in a binder.” I continue to walk away, my mind moving on to my ‘to do’ list and the nice meal out I’m looking forward to that evening.
His throat clears. I pause.
“If you had properly read your information pack you would have seen that it was a clear course requirement.”
I turn back to face him. I’d thought he was just bantering, but his face was deadly serious.
“Well,” I retort, unsettled by what seems like an unnecessary rebuke, “if the college’s administration had been more efficient, and we’d been given our information packs in the first week, I expect I’d have realised its importance.”
“I think you’ll find you received your packs by the third week.”
Irritated, I make some remark about the fact that everything else was over-spelt out to us by our tutor, and that had she been as insistent about the binder as she had been about its contents I would certainly have complied.
Shaking his head, and looking smugly impressed at himself, he bulldozes on:
“If you presented this quality of journal at Level 2, you would not have passed.”
I’d just popped into the college to get my journal, yet suddenly I’m caught up in a Proustian moment, becoming, once again, again the 15 year old who dropped geography simply because she’d been told off for drawing trees on the front of her exercise book.
Not wanting Mr Bureaucrat-Administrator-Tutor-Man to glimpse the un-earthed teenager who was afraid to fail, I take in a deep self-protective breath and prepare to channel all my insecurity and irritation into a witty killer blow.
Realising, just in time, the craziness of the situation, I breathe out slowly and hear myself saying I wasn’t sure if I would go on to study Level 2 right now.
“If you change your mind,” he volunteers, with even a hint of a smile, “just let us know. There should be a Level 2 course starting soon in Abingdon. Your journal was very good and you may find it interesting to pursue your studies to the next level.”
As I leave, a little bit thrown by that random interaction, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be laughing or crying.