After a few weeks working at the Houston Community College Writing Center — a few weeks without yet being paid, mind you (curses, HR department!) — I have come to the conclusion that I need to establish some ground rules.
Of course, I’m not really allowed to do this. The center has its own rules that the powers-that-be have deemed adequate. But I’m considering fashioning a clear and informative sign at my table in the center. This sign will read:
I WILL ONLY TUTOR YOU UNDER THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS:
1. You have bathed and brushed your teeth within the past two days.
2. Your assignment is not due within the next hour.
3. You have run spellcheck on your paper.
4. You have read any and all materials you need to have read to complete the assignment. Yes, I have read that novel. No, I will not summarize it for you.
5. You will not ask me any condescending questions, such as “How old are you exactly?”
6. You can locate your assignment among the dirty and wrinkled mess of papers inside your backpack within five minutes. I will not assist you in this process.
7. You will believe me when I point out mistakes of grammar, spelling, or argument. After four years of college and four years of graduate school I promise you that yes, I do know what a metaphor is. And what you’re calling a metaphor? Not even close.
8. If, for some reason, you don’t believe me when I point out problems in your paper, you will not look at me skeptically, doodle a question mark in the margin, and say, “I will check this out with someone else later.”