I can usually be found sleeping in
a chair in the library, drooling on the oversized sweatshirt I wore with
equally large sweatpants. Obviously it’s not a matching sweatsuit ““ that would
be just plain tacky. If I’m not sleeping in the library I’m watching hulu and
eating something with a loud, distracting wrapper next to other studious
undergrads. So I was clearly just as surprised as you probably are when
Columbia hired me to be a psychology TA. Apparently I’m just responsible enough
to grade all the other, more responsible students’ exams. Up until last week it
was a pretty relaxed affair; I held a couple office hours, I made sure I
understood what the f#@% the professor was talking about, I didn’t fall asleep
during lecture. Piece of cake. Until last week, that is.
During our second exam of the
semester, I did my usual job: mindlessly walking around the lecture hall,
making sure no students were obviously cheating. A young gentleman approached
me, asking to use the restroom. I said of course, and took his exam from him so
he couldn’t take it to the restroom. I continued my loafing.
5 minutes went by. Guys always go
faster than girls, so I was suddenly aware that this gentleman might be looking
at his notes outside. 10 minutes went by ““ now he was making it very obvious.
15 minutes went by. Was he the worst cheater ever, or was he taking the
biggest, stress-induced poop known to man?
It was far too long of an absence
to be a simple pee. That kind of stuff he could do in a potted plant in the
hall ““ we’re talking a minute and a half, tops. Maybe he washed his hands, and
that added on to his overall time spent in the bathroom. If he cared about
hygiene that would be a comfort, since I’d been holding his pencil for 15
minutes now. In those 15, he was either reading his notes, or playing words
with friends to distract himself while he laid waste to some bathroom.
So did I approach him? Did I ask if
his stomach was upset? If he was cheating it was my job to bring the bastard
down. Pretending my job was as imperative as Detective Olivia Benson on Law and
Order: Special Victims Unit, I approached the grad student TA for advice. I
gave her the evidence, explained the predicament.
“He was gone that long?”
“He looked uncomfortable when he
“Maybe because his stomach hurt.”
“Or he felt guilty for the crime he
was about to commit.”
“Do you want to ask him if he was
pooping or cheating?”
Suddenly I realized this was the
greatest cheating tactic ever. Could you put your TA in a more awkward
position? I watched him turn in the exam and leave, and I couldn’t bring myself
to get in his face and ask. If during our next exam everyone suddenly seems to
be suffering from mudbutt, then I’ll know this was a strategic move. If this
guy was an isolated incident ““ well, at least I was entertained for about 15
minutes while I wrestled with my TA’s dilemma.