Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Time I Had a Secret Enemy

One time I was in college.

While in college, I was required to take a "Writing about the Arts and Humanities" class. (Did I capitalize enough things in the title of that class? Probably not.) It was a dumb class, but it was required and who am I to stand in the way of academic increase?


On the first day of class, I sat down in the small classroom, identified a few people that I knew ("Hey!" "Oh, hey dude!" "Look at us, in a class.") then was introduced to my teacher, Sister Miller. Sister Miller was fine. I had no thoughts about her. She was an English teacher. I think she had curly hair. The end.

But I guess it was in that moment that she pinned me to be her nemesis.

Throughout the class, our interactions were quite limited. She assigned papers, I wrote the papers and turned them in, she would grade them and give them back. It was very standard. My writing wasn't awesome, but it wasn't terrible. I was the same "pretty much OK" student that I'd always been. As far as I knew, I was the same as all the other students in the class.

No reason to have a personal hatred toward me, right? Well... there were a few times that I remember, now that I think about it...

One day we were talking about argument, I guess and she was having everyone go around and say a statement that followed this pattern: "Although _________, however __________." Something about that format seemed off to me. I raised my hand.

Sister Miller: Yes, Asia?
Asia: Isn't it redundant to say both "although" and "however"? It should just be one or the other... right?
Sister Miller: I have a personal and intense hatred for all that you stand for.

OK she didn't say that... I don't remember what she said. But doesn't it seem weird for a college English professor to be teaching basic grammatical errors to her class...?

Anyway. The end of the class was approaching and we were supposed to break into groups and write a huge research paper on something related to our field. I told my group we could just turn in a research paper I had written in a previous semester for my film history class, which we did. It got a good grade and Sister Miller was none the wiser.

But on the last day of Writing about the Arts and Humanities, something strange happened. She was passing papers back to all the groups ("Cook? Here you go." "Davis? Here you are." "Brewer? Nice work!"). She walked by my desk and slyly set something on it that was not my final essay. It was a folded piece of notebook paper. I looked around, seeing if anyone else had received such a note. Nope. I opened it and read it.

It was kind of a mock-apology for "wasting my time" in her class. She said that if I wanted to be in an honors class, I should have just taken one and she was sorry if I felt that her class was a bust.


I didn't even think she knew my name. I was a completely anonymous student in the class. I definitely wasn't the most obnoxious and I definitely wasn't the student who cared least for the course. Yeah, it was dumb, but it was a GE... and I wasn't outwardly rude or sassy ever. She must have been receiving little cues from me all semester. Cues I wasn't intentionally sending, mind you. Little looks or questions that she built up in her mind as conniving and disrespectful.

When I got home, I opened an email to her. It looked like this:

Sister Miller,

I appreciate you taking the time to write me your sincere note, however I am confused about what made you feel the need to write it. I hope I haven't been terribly flippant about attendance or assignments. I know I haven't been the best student, but by no means do I regret taking the class. I admit that I took the class because it is a requirement for graduation, but I don't feel like it was a waste of time or effort. I'm very sorry to have made you feel this way. Thank you for your dedication to the course. Is there anything I can do for you?

Her response was weird:

No, not a thing.  I guess this is a question I should have been asking you earlier in the semester!  But you came to class and will pass--so it's all good.
Have a lovely day.
Sister Miller

What the H?


  1. HAHA I remember that note. WEIRDO. Remember in my advanced writing class when this happened?
    Teacher: "...and miles to go before I sleep." Who said that?
    Me: Robert Frost.
    Teacher: No. You guys should really know this one. Who said it?
    Me: Robert Frost.
    Teacher: NO, it's NOT ROBERT FROST!

    She never told us what her answer was...

  2. I love "What the H?"

    I'm sure we've all had a class like'd be impossible to go through college without having one. I have :)

  3. I remember you telling me this story when it happend. That teacher still sounds weird. Maybe she was menopausing? ;)

  4. Ok, truth: When you put up the argument format, I seriously was like, "Wait... that doesn't work. The 'although' and then 'however' is completely redundant and grammatically doesn't make sense." Then you stated that you felt the exact same way. Feel justified, my sweet Asia. :)

  5. Jordan sent this to me, Asia, because I AM an English major and, well, misery always has and always will like company :-)

  6. That's bizarre. People are so strange!

  7. Yeah that was a crazy class. I felt my tuition dollars were wasted as it was more a review of high-school-sophomore-level English than college. And it was so weird that you were the object of so much antagonism, Asia! I was there and can witness that it was completely unprovoked and undeserved. Go Team Asia.

  8. I should be the only Sister Miller that you know and you should feel only great things when you think of my name!

  9. You weren't outwardly rude or sassy?
    'Isn't it redundant to say both "although" and "however"? It should just be one or the other... right?'

    That is sass if I've ever heard it.


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