“Oh, I’m sorry, I’m such a klutz,” Amanda said, bending down to pick up the papers.
“It’s okay, it’s no big deal. Just student reports I need to grade. Most of them are probably helped by the mud anyway,” David said, trying to straighten those he still held while crouching down as well. When he finally got them straightened, he took the bunch that Amanda was holding out to him and slapped them on top, spreading the wet dirt that clung to them.
“Oh, you’re a teacher?”
“A professor, actually,” David said, standing again.
Amanda stood with him, saying, “That’s so cool, what do you teach? Or, I guess, profess?”
“Mostly writing, these days. I want to teach semiotics, but for now, it’s entry-level writing. I get all the kids who don’t know how to form a thesis sentence, and have to train them to be cogent little machines.”
“And these are their output?”
“Yeah, the first assignment. Such as it ever is. I have to go home and grade grade grade. As I say, they’ll mostly be fails.”
“That’s kind of pessimistic,” Amanda straightened the strap of the bag hanging from her shoulder.
“Yeah, but it’s a learned pessimism. I started off thinking it would be great, I would be honing the already-present skills. But…well, take this one for example.” He straightened the page, then wiped at a streak of brown. “This student, as their opening line, said, ‘The thing you gotta,’ – and I interrupt here to point out that he actually wrote ‘gotta’ – ‘The thing you gotta know is that the Hobbit, unlike otter’ – rather than other, I presume – ‘crap, is the double greatest creation all mankind.’ I mean, come on. First of all, the Hobbit? Tolkien was good, but not the saviour of all art and creative pursuits. From the hyperbole to the grammatical issues, that sentence alone is enough to fail him.”
“Hm. That’s too bad. Does he make a decent argument?”
“What’s it matter? It’s a writing course. The first step was making sure they wrote well, paying attention to grammar and spelling. He missed the point of the exercise entirely.”
“I remember my first year. I was so lost, I didn’t know what was what. I’m really thankful I had a good prof, she really helped guide me in my writing. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have made it.”
“Well, I’m glad you had someone like that. I wish these kids did. Anyway, I need to go, I have grading to do, and Game of Thrones is about to start!”
“Okay. Hey, do you want to get a drink at some point?”
“Not tonight, thanks. As I say, work calls,” David lifted the bundle of papers. “See you later.”
“Okay, bye,” Amanda said, though David was already walking away. She was happy, in retrospect, that he had turned her down. Also a little pleased that she had been such a klutz.