You work hard. Sure, you could study a little more, review that paper one more time, or spend an extra hour in the library every week but all things considered, you're a good student. You do well in school, too. You get decent grades, mostly B's, some C's and every now and then an A. You're no Einstein, but Mom and Dad are happy with the way you've turned out and that's good enough for you. After all, college is more about having a life experience and learning how to be independent than getting straight A's. But still, getting an A on a test or paper feels good, doesn't it?
It only happens a few times, but calling up your parents and saying, "I got an A on my midterm," is one of those rare delights that makes you feel a little less guilty about spending their money on booze and a Fake ID. "Great job, honey. We knew you could do it!" they'll cheer. The day is yours! But not this day. Not any day, as long as you're enrolled in Professor Dickhead's intro to Biology lecture. Why, you ask? Because Professor Dickhead goes by another name. A name so sinister I can barely type due to the shivers of rage it sends coursing through my veins. Professor Dickhead is more commonly known as
When you get your test back you'll see a big, red "89.5" scribbled across the top. Eagerly, you'll scan the paper for anything that could give you that miserable 1/2 point. "Maybe I could argue this?" "Maybe I could argue that?" The options tear through your mind like a bullet and, before he's even done handing out the rest of the papers, you've come up with three or four arguments to get that pesky half-point back. You're a nice guy so you won't waste the class' time by arguing with him during the lecture. You'll do the classy thing and make your case during office hours. Tense and irritated, you'll ride out the rest of the lecture in silence.
Come office hours, you'll patiently wait your turn. no doubt there are a few other kids there trying in vain to get their grade changed. One by one they'll file out of his office, dejected and bitter. "It's ok," you'll think, "I've got a well-prepared defense and it's only 1/2 a point. How can he say no?" What you don't know is that he's been saying 'No' to grade changes since he got tenured twelve years ago and all your preparation isn't going to change a thing.
You're up, it's your time to shine, your time to show this old guy a thing or two about debating; backing up your points and finding a resolution to a conflict where both parties are satisfied. "Hi professor," you cheerfully intone, and take your seat across from him. Buried in papers and typing an email he barely acknowledges that you're sitting in his office. You only know he's there because he offhandedly mutters, "So, what seems to be the problem with your grade?" You go on to explain how number 14 could really be either A or B depending on if you studied the notes from class or the book. And how you shouldn't lose 2 points for a missing apostrophe on number 3 because you spelled the word correctly two questions later. And how you shouldn't lose points for sloppy hand writing since computers dominate the working world these days and hand-written reports are a rarity at best. And finally, how "mobility" and "the ability to move" mean the same thing and you had no way of knowing that you'd be graded on semantics.
Wait for it
"No," he'll spit back at you. In stunned silence you'll resort to begging. "Please, professor. It's only half a point and it will mean so much to my parents to see an A on my test." Could you have melted his icy heart? Will simple human kindness overpower his insatiable urge to be a twat? "No," he'll cackle. What follows next is a long winded examination of why he can't just give you 1/2 a point. He'll ruminate on academic integrity and "earning your mark." He'll pontificate on the finer points of disagreement and respecting his decision. Finally, he'll engage you in a furious Q&A during which you'll be belittled, humiliated and probably made to feel guilty about even thinking you deserve a higher grade. This guy is a pro.
What makes this extra infuriating is that the only reason he won't give you that half-point is that he cannot ever admit he is wrong. Not even wrong, actually, he cannot admit that a question might have a vague answer and that with the proper defense, the less-correct answer could in fact be correct. This is the kind of guy who asks for your opinion on something and then goes on to tell you that your opinion is wrong. Not different from his, mind you, plain wrong. In essence, the real reason that you're getting a B+ and not an A- is not that you had the wrong answer, it's that this asshole cannot swallow his pride and give you one inch. It's a classic case of an unhappy, unimportant person exerting their power over you the only way they can.