The Ninja


I am prone, having pressed myself against a wall near the bathroom. I have taken on the physical and personality characteristics of a salamander ninja. In the hallway nearby, three students are chatting and if I move, I will draw attention to myself.

I do not want to do that. One of the students is mine, and if he sees me conversation will commence and I’ll be forced to commit seppuku.

Before you start judging me as a bad teacher, let’s get a few things clear. I love my students. And I even enjoy seeing students in public, where the classroom roles have been shed and we are just a couple of people. The student I am hiding from (in salamander ninja form) is a student who does not attend classes and does not do his coursework.

If you are a teacher at a university, I needn’t explain further. If you aren’t, then read the next few sentences. On the list of all the people you don’t want to see in public, students who don’t come to class are at the top. Why? Because they have 1. an exceptionally low-level of self-awareness, 2. a tiny nugget of some inexplicable feeling in their belly which will eventually introduce itself in their mid-30s as “guilt,” and 3. they unconsciously want to quell that nugget by talking about class and coursework with a teacher whose class they never visit.

These students have a way of moseying up with a What the Hell, Why Not? look on their faces and doing one of several things. First off, they might explain their chronic absence. Sickness. Business. Bureaucracy. I have found that sickly grandmothers feature in these explanations about 59% of the time, with visa problems coming in second at about 34% of the time. They also might simply ask “Did you do anything important in class recently?” to which I usually answer, “Nah, we just sit around and talk about how you’re not there.” Sometimes they get the joke, sometimes they don’t. Either way, a little of me dies every time I use it.

So in the interests of not dealing with this, I have become an expert at hiding in plain sight. Pressing myself against a wall is just one of several tactics I have developed in order to evade notice. Hiding my nose in a book is another. Standing behind a pole at the tram stop is a good one, too. I have osmosized with trashcans, flower pots, and (recently) Christmas trees.

Additionally, I have developed a ninja-like quality of willing the people not to see me. I am doing that now, as I press myself and two folders against a wall.

Do not see me.

Do not see me.

Do not see me.

They don’t. They turn towards the stairwell and I slip away down the hallway. I breathe a sigh of relief as I jauntily dance towards my office and cast a glance back at the students as the door to the stairwell closes behind them. I laugh cockily and turn. And right there is another one, a guy I last saw in class two months ago. He is wearing a What the Hell, Why Not? grin and shakes his head.

“Hi professor, so I’m sorry I haven’t been in class recently…”

  1. #1 by Sir Peter Paul Rubens on January 25, 2017 - 11:48 am

    You made a really good point. But, I believe that it is the job of a Professor to teach the students to be disciplined. If you run from them now, they will end up without any guidance.

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