My friend Margit is a teacher. Her Facebook wall had the following update recently:
Note to student: “Thank you for submitting your paper. Unfortunately, I am unable to access your work. It appears there has been an error in the file upload. Please submit a new copy of your paper before [deadline]. I look forward to reading your work.”
Note from student: “My paper is password protected. The password is [password].”
Note to student: “Please submit a new copy of your work. The software that is used to grade papers does not permit me to enter a password and when I attempt to download the original file, I receive information that the file is corrupted and unreadable.”
Note from student: “My paper is password protected. The password is [password]. I do not know how to turn it off and do not want to contact technical support.”
Note to student: “Congratulations. You have protected your paper so thoroughly that it is the online equivalent of hermitically sealed. It is the black hole of papers. No information can escape its gravitational pull, and all attempts to approach it have resulted in catastrophic systems failure. The good news is that I have provided you with a grade. The bad news is that it’s password protected and will resemble a zero in every way until a new document has been uploaded to the landing site.”
I had some empathy for Margit but also for the future boss of this student.
I was reminded of the first person that I had to fire as a manager. This young man had a complicated life and that particular week his job was inconvenient. If he had picked up a phone and called me instead of disappearing for a week he would have kept his job. He was only one phone call away from success.
I felt for this student. He did the assignment. He turned it in. He was one password away from a grade. But he quit one step too soon.
Sometimes a our jobs, our relationships, our responsibilities are inconvenient. The universe is not always convenient. Hopefully we will learn that sooner rather than later… perhaps from a teacher… hopefully not from a boss.