Kicking off her first semester teaching ever, a grad student came out of the gate in the cringiest possible way.
It's never good for rapport-building when somebody has to verbally articulate why their life-altering injury feels significant.
That CANNOT have been in the pedagogy.
But first, let's acknowledge that graduate school is a time of rapid, intense personal growth.
A person enters a Master's or Ph.D. program generally intelligent, having written essays and read the foundational texts of a variety of topics in undergraduate school. That person leaves a specialized expert, uniquely qualified to contribute to a certain sliver of society.
But it costs a lot.
So people have to teach while they do it. That means really capable thinkers and scholars that aren't necessarily ready—or interested—to work a classroom and mold some young minds.
It was those exact shaky conditions that goddamnquarantines, as she's known on Reddit, began her foray into teaching.
As she'd come to discover, her nerves around speaking to a full room of expectant undergrads would be fully realized, and in the most spectacular way possible.
She begins the account with a nod to her concerted attempts to avoid exactly what would come her way.
"Public-speaking anxiety up the wazoo, so I decided to memorize my 17 students' names and faces before the first day of class."
"By Wednesday of the second week, I had everyone's FACE down pat."
But she'll learn that fate is spiteful, sadistic and engineered with high-grade metal.
Disaster began to brew when she encouraged some classroom engagement.
"On that day, students were picking out an advertisement to analyze."
"I was surprised when one of quieter students (let's call him David) told me he'd already chosen his ad."
At this point, goddamnquarantine probably felt like she was hitting a stride.
She had these freshmen raising their hands and excited about the project.
"Me: 'That's great, David, which one did you choose?'"
"David, 'The Wounded Warrior ad.'"
"Me: Cheerfully oblivious, 'And why did you choose that one, David?'"
For those who don't know the Wounded Warrior ad or the project's mission:
Her story then moves from dialogue to second-by-second description.
The horror was beginning.
"The classroom suddenly goes silent. No one's rustling papers or texting under their desk anymore. I realize every single wide eye in the classroom is staring at me or glancing uncomfortably at David."
goddamnquarantine then made a discovery, the most awkward, punch-in-the-gut discovery.
"David looks at me, and shifts his legs. His legs. With numbing horror, I register the glint of metal between his sneakers and the hem of his jeans. David doesn't have any legs.
"In my state of stage-fright, I'd somehow missed that one of my students is a double-amputee."
When things seemed unable to get worse, David opened his mouth and turned out to be so polite, so undeserving of the negative attention, that he quietly explained what the narrator had already seen.
"'I lost my legs in the Army, ma'am.'"
There's something about that "ma'am." David maintained deference to the teacher even after her total blunder. The eternal courtesy likely only hammered home the guilt.
The narrator is kind enough to allow the ensuing awkwardness occur off screen. She ends her story there.
Many Redditors actually commented that this was a blessing in disguise.
Their comments paint her obliviousness as a refreshing alternative to the more typical alienation of someone in David's position.
"Honestly I'm sure he's probably happy that you knew his name but didn't really notice anything else about him."
"Everyone else was super sensitive to the fact that he's "other". You just treated him like any other student." TheMole68
"I have a less severe condition, and I have never once been offended because someone didn't notice." HyzerFlip
"While I don't want someone to completely ignore that I use a cane because of accessibility issues, I also don't want to be filled under 'that girl with the cane.'" RoseDandy
"As an amputee myself, it's ok! I'd rather you know my name, etc, then just notice my legs. I can only speak for myself here, but I do not want to be defined for what I do/don't have." hotDot1
Many, though, did empathize with her guilt.
They shared horror stories of their own.
"I was babysitting once, I was in my early teens. One of the little kids got a booboo and was whining. I asked him if I should cut off his leg to make it stop hurting. Usually that got me a laugh."
"I forgot that his dad was an amputee." Lisa5605
"Oh man, in high school I remember our science teacher made a comment about Flemming's Left-Hand Rule (writing with his right hand and gesturing with his left)."
"He just said, 'so you stick out your left hand, and everybody has one of those' and then paused mid-letter with the chalk in his other hand, realizing what he'd said."
"The only kid in school missing his left arm, was sitting front row." daveinsurgent
"In college, I was in class and the professor was having some arm pain trying to write on the whiteboard. It was a really chill professor/class, so I made the joke 'we can amputate if you want.'"
"He responded 'My mom was an amputee'"
"Naturally, I said 'I'm sorry,' to which he said 'No, it's okay, she's dead.'" dystyyy
Others keyed in on the anxiety, forgiving the screw-up on account of her manic stage fright haze.
"I bet that didn't help with anxiety much." iknowthisischeesy
"The social anxiety adrenaline blur really is hard to explain to anyone who hasn't experienced it." EphemeralApricity
"He was wearing jeans. Ankle staring went out when the Victorian Era ended. Cut yourself some slack." iliketodrawcats
Alas, goddamnquarantine has nearly an entire semester to go.
Here's hoping moments like this don't become a habit.