I once had this older man in my class.
The first panic attack came when he found out the course would be in English, something he struggled with.
Then, when I said there would be an exam of 10 questions, he started shaking.
‘Is anyone nervous for test?’, I asked, in this case, a slightly rethorical question.
‘I-I-I am am a bittt’, he stuttered.
I smiled and then explained I will be writing down quite some things on the whiteboard, using three colors.
I hinted that the Blue marker represents the “need to know”, the Black marker “nice to know” and everything written in Red is for the “advanced nerds”.
This calmed him down for the moment.
Then, when the test started, his hand shaked so heavily, he could barely keep his computer mouse still.
I stood beside his desk and glanced at his screen, noticing the first two questions being answered wrong already.
At this point I had two options.
Either I immediately start correcting him or I just follow the rules and say nothing.
I remembered the words from a colleague.
‘If they pass or fail, it’s not my fault. I went through all the material. So I did my job.’
We all need some “cover my ass” statements every now and then.
So I’d do MY job, but what about this man’s job?
He probably had 5 more years to retirement.
Without passing this course, he officially is not allowed to the the work.
Not passing a test of confusingly worded questions doesn’t make you bad at your job though.
I could let him fail and make him repeat the course.
But then, he’d need to have a word with his manager.
And if his manager is anything like mine….
Do you remember a time when someone or something influenced your future?
Maybe it was your parent’s advice to follow an education, a sudden weather change which made you take a bus later and meeting the love of your life, or even kind words from a stranger which gave you the strength to not give up.
We often forget how little is needed to make a person smile.
But we seem to very well how to break someone’s day.
Do you remember the bullies?
Their words? Your tears and worries?
Maybe even the afterwards trauma?
But what about them?
How much did it impact their life?
They don’t see you anymore. They might now even remember you anymore.
I know mine for sure don’t.
I have a new class every week.
Some people will like my course. Others will pretend to like it.
And there are always a few who just don’t like me for no reason.
They will evaluate me poorly, not thank me for the class and walk away.
Not thinking about the consequences.
Because I bet you, I will have to defense myself to the manager.
I considered this when looking over the shoulder of the old man doing the test.
Once he fails and walks out the door, it will be no longer my business.
But I can’t think like this.
‘Go one question back please’, I said eventually.
We made an agreement of “If you don’t tell on me, I won’t tell on you”.
The happiness and relief he showed after he passed still makes me smile.
Would you bend the rules a bit in order to make someone’s day?
When was the last time someone made your day and how?