Monday, February 27, 2006

Pa Rum Pa Pum Pum

Dude, Tiny Drum is the worst regular patron I've encountered in years of restaurant/retail/library experience. He's driving me batshit. A forty-something PhD candidate who hits on women less than half his age routinely and publicly, and who is not in the least discouraged by continual failures in this department, Tiny Drum reminds me of my erstwhile friend The Hulk, who fails abysmally with women and always claims that he's the one who turned the other party down.

Tiny Drum lacks wit, manners, and sophistication. He bores me to tears with weekly plot synopses of Smallville. If I wanted to know what was happening on Smallville, I would watch it, jerkass! He bores me to tears with continual and nonsensical stories about imagined plots amongst the PhD faculty in the Education Department to discredit him. Tiny Drum needs no help in this area, given that every time he opens his mouth his PhD candidacy is instantly discredited. He asked me once to edit something and I was foolish enough to agree; I routinely edit stuff for the student employees here, after all. Now every piece of paper he submits crosses my desk beforehand, including emails to his advisors.

Tiny Drum writes like an Honors English high school sophomore. He worries more about word choice and juggling high-fallutin' jargon than about content and organization. Tiny Drum should worry more about the fact that his sentence-level grammar is adolescent, that he can't quite grasp subject/verb agreement, that he has no idea what a tense is, and further that he is unable to spell even with autocheck on. The student employees--most of whom are Korean--write more eloquent English than Tiny Drum.

Tiny Drum was asked to write an analytical summary of a scholarly article. He had no idea what a summary was, so I had to explain it to him. Then he tried to use an article about literary criticism as a model. When I pointed out to him that literary analysis techniques would not help him analyze a scholarly article about Haptic Technology, I had to explain: analysis, the difference between literature and scholarly articles from technical journals, the difference between fiction and non-fiction, the difference between fact and fiction, the difference between morons and people who belong in PhD programs, and the difference between an offer to help edit a single page and a full-time job as an editor/ghostwriter. Tiny Drum wanted to argue about the difference between fiction and non-fiction, because he hates to appear ignorant. I showed him his sample article (which was about Their Eyes Were Watching God) and asked if he thought there would be much character motivation to discuss in Towards a Technologically Proficient School System--then I pointed out he'd be unlikely to find many symbols either. It sunk in eventually.

Tiny Drum demanded I come to campus Friday to edit his summary. I told him no. He got angry, and then said he would treat me to lunch. I said "I don't come to campus on my days off. You'd have to pay me $100." Then he emailed it to me at my work address (which is published on the Liberry website) and kept bugging me about it. The summary was awful, full of redundancies as a Bush speech on Terror, and had little in common with any summary I've read that wasn't penned by a 3rd grader (See Dick use Haptic Technology). Instead of dealing with it I told him to scrap the document because it was hopeless. He asked me how to fix it, and I said "you can't fix this. Pick five points the authors make in their article, write them down, and state whether you agree or not and why. Throw this one away--you're spinning your wheels." He'd spent hours composing this rubbish. I was overjoyed to tell him it sucked.

Now, as I type this, he keeps bugging me to check another revision he emailed me: "I'm sorry," I said. "I'm doing something now that needs attention. When I have some free time I'll look at your summary for the umpteenth time. By the way--do you know about the Writing Lab, where people actually get paid to do this?"

I'd like to beat Tiny Drum--he wears a small drum around his neck on a leather thong. He's an ass.

And speaking of perpetually annoying patrons: Gimpy Bill from Borders has started attending my Arabic class a month into the semester. Fucking jerk. I have to rush out of class now every day so he can't talk to me.

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