S*** MBAs Say: The Cross-Registrants Edition

I'll admit, no matter how ridiculously smart or ridiculously ridiculous the MBAs are, the cross-registrants (CRs) in the course tend to do them one better. Four of the top five students in the course are cross-registrants from the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Law School. And they are awesome--I'll spend a post lauding the good eggs in the course at some point, because there are some really good people in this class and I'd be lying about the course if I said it were an exclusively miserable series of interpersonal experiences.

That said, while none of the CRs has left for a ski trip, this has not stopped a good number of them from making me want to ponderously shake my head or bury my face in my hands.

Case 1: The "better late than never?" CR

I'm sorry for not writing sooner. Unfortunately, I was sick for the past week and also joined Professor X's class, which conflicts with your Wednesday afternoon class. Would it still be possible to audit the remainder of your classes that meet on Thursday and Friday? [...]

Thanks very much,

My professor receives this email last night. Because the course is a quarter and not a semester course, class is literally half-way over. Now the student is contacting us? And contacting us to audit two-thirds of the remaining sessions? (Mind you, the only group of students more frustrating than the MBAs or the CRs is the auditors--I'd write an entry on them, but I'd get too frustrated while writing the post). I have her down as having attended the first class, but no other sessions during weeks 1 or 2, when she presumably wasn't sick and should have been attending, based on her email. (face palm)

Case 2: The "Fascinated" CR

Last week I discussed with Erica my situation about the registration to the DBIC course, but I'm sorry I would still have to write you directly as I need your permission before I could proceed to complete the registration. [...]

I was therefore wondering if you could allow me to register DBIC formally. If I could have the honor, I will proceed with the registration office to move forward. As you may know, I attended all the previous classes and was really fascinated by your lectures and class discussions including today's.

Thank you very much!

"If I could have the honor" is rivaling "courtesy of the Alps" for most obnoxious soundbite heard in relation to this course. Also, I should note that "discuss[ing] with Erica" was being unceremoniously approached after class by this guy who got way up in my personal space and bombarded me with questions to which I could do little more than answer, "you need to go the registrar." Though this student claimed at the end of every class session that he'd gone to the registrar and that they weren't fixing his problems, it was clear from contacting the registrar that this kid was brain-dead. He had been formally enrolled in the course since day one. It's one thing for a student to give me a headache when trying to solve a legitimate problem that demands my help, but it's another for a student to give me a headache for no reason at all. 

Case 3: The MIT Sloan School CR

This student, probably in his late forties, is a Chinese national whom even my professor has identified as "smug" and "needing to be taken down a notch." I couldn't agree more, though it took me until no day other than Valentine's Day to realize just how smug this bugger was. 

Anyone who's seen me at work before knows that on a non-class day, I try to dress at about the same level of formality as the MBAs--if not business casual then well-put together. I'll often do something along the lines of very dark jeans or pants and a basic cotton shirt. If I'm meeting with my professor, maybe I'll throw a blazer on top, but given that he's worn Merrell shoes to classes with important guests lecturing, as long as I don't look like I'm headed to the club or to the gym, I'm generally fine in his presence. But since he started teaching, he's been wearing suits, and I've been following suit (haha) in terms of formality. I'll put on make up, for example. I won't wear a full suit, but I'll do a button-down and trousers, a dress and a suit jacket, and other similar combinations. Sure, some of the dresses could easily go day-to-night, but I don't think I ever look like I'm trying to get that kind of attention--not like I'd have a reason to: 1. There would likely be an ethical dilemma at hand for engaging with a student enrolled in the course. 2. All the cute MBAs in the class are taken, anyway.

So on Valentine's Day, I'm humoring the Hallmark holiday by wearing a red and black dress that could be considered a day-to-night number. And after spending the time before class distributing homemade truffles to my favorite and largely single-lady coworkers, I'm in a pretty good mood. (If you're unattached on Valentine's Day, you should do something so that your singledom doesn't get to you, right?) I'm looking no more formal than I have any other day of class, but I'm wearing red and it's Valentine's Day. 

As his thinning hair feebly tries to conceal his balding skull, this smug student approaches me after class and asks me with a grossly expectant, smarmy gin on his face, "Oh, you going on a hot date?"

People tell me that I have some pretty distinctive and hilarious facial expressions. I'll agree. And the one that followed this comment quite possibly could have been my best to date. It was a unique mixture of embarrassment, disgust, and disbelief that could be best described by the following: I felt like I was in the run-up to an explosion scene in one of those Western movies (or Looney Tunes episodes). Your eyes follow the spark as it travels along the circuitous trail of the wick, the spark turning the white thread into black and then into nothing as it approaches the end of its course. In this moment, I am frozen in the frame where the spark is about to reach the stick of dynamite or, more appropriately, the stacked boxes of TNT. The comment nearly sets me on fire. With my best attempt at a smile that betrays how pissed off I am, I say, "No, just me and a bottle of wine and friends," instead of, "REALLY? WTF, MAN? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?" I probably should have replied, "That's none of your business," but I wasn't thinking too clearly.  A reader might perceive this as my overreacting to an innocent question, but his attitude made for a highly unsettling situation, especially since this is the student who sits nearest to me and who is a bit weird to being with. 

There you have it, folks: the good, the bad, and the disturbing of the CR contingency of my dearly beloved MBA course.