Sunday, April 22, 2007

What would I do if...

This happened to my dad a little while back, and I can't shake the brazenness of this from my head.

He and Mom were in the Houston airport awaiting a flight home to Seattle. Sitting next to him was a woman who was flying home to New Orleans, yammering away on her cell phone.

She announced loudly to her friend (and anyone else within hearing distance) that she had written her daughter's History term paper for her. Her daughter didn't have time to write it, and didn't have any idea about the topic anyway. So the mother wrote the paper and (she said, laughing out loud) got a 97, including the comment "good historical perspectives." She compared Bush's working with/against a Democratic Congress on the Iraq war to LBJ's work with his Congress during Vietnam.

Dad didn't engage the woman in conversation, and to be truthful, I probably wouldn't have either. I'd just have seethed about it for a long, long time. Hell, I wasn't even there and I'm seething about it anyway. But if I told the woman that not only was she proving to everyone listening that she was a complete turd, but that she was also hurting her daughter, I probably would have just gotten an obscene gesture for my trouble. A stranger at an airport can't change a morally bankrupt woman like this.

But what if I had been really, really sneaky? Said something like: "Hey...nice job with the paper! I couldn't help overhearing. I'm cousin goes to high school in New Orleans, and also has trouble with her History teacher. Where does your daughter go to high school?" Something like that. Then, I could email the head of the History department and try to get justice.

Yeah, I know, I'm probably dreaming. But it's a good dream.

Would you guys do anything if you were in the same situation?


John B. said...


Being as it is a complete stranger, I would leave it alone and chalk it up to stupidity. No sense confronting someone and receiving a verbal lashing or worse in don't know what the woman is capable of violence wise.

This 'parents writing papers' is more common than I suspect even you believe it is...happens a lot, as does getting a paper off the internet. You are a teacher and know this, but as parent I hear about it a lot. Most parents that do this can't be reasoned with...their motivations and ethics are simply different than your or mine.

TeacherRefPoet said...

Not different, John B. They're wrong.

I agree that confrontation solves nothing. I'm just wondering that with a few "friendly" questions, I could extract the woman's name and the name of the kid's HS. Maybe a cell-phone picture later, I have an emailable story.

It's a dream, but a good one.

GrigorPDX said...

What would I do? Exactly the same thing you would have - nothing. As a collary for the 'Net adage "Don't feed the Trolls" and "Don't wrestle a pig", don't engage stupid people. You'll just end up frustrated at best.

TeacherRefPoet said...

Do you think that, using stealth, I could get a name or a high school and have justice served to this chick who got a 97 for doing no work? I won't get into a fight. I'll just work for justice, etc.

TeacherRefPoet said...

(At least in this little fantasy I'm having.)

tommyspoon said...

As much as I'd like to think you could pull this off, I suspect that this woman would probably not give up the info that you desire. She'd probably want to know why you're asking, who are you working for, and Shut up! I'll sabotage my kid's future if I want to! and Leave me alone! I'm calling homeland security!!

But, like you, I like to dream.