I think my roommate said it best when describing our personality type (according to the Meyers-Briggs, we are both INFP, but different kinds of INFP)–“Befriend Many, Love Some, Trust Few.” Or something like that. I meet a lot of people through both teaching and through my work at the bar. However, there are times that they overlap and–
Well, I had a student over the Winter course that I was teaching online. Several weeks ago, this student came to my bar to complain about his online instructor who is a total idiot. After 2 more questions, I found out that I was the said idiot he was complaining about. After I introduced myself, he suddenly he perked up and started to talk about how he loved the class.
The class ended and said student would come to the bar and complain out loud about his grade (he got a B+) and how he deserved an A. I just ignored him. Then he proceeded to just come in during all my shifts and when the new semester started, he found out when my office hours were and started to harass me.
I took it all in stride, until he started to harass my partner. You see, my partner also works at the same bar I do (I got the job because of him). He would make comments asking why was my partner dating me because he could do so much better–and very immature comments like that trying to undermine me and also bring these two social spheres together.
Eventually he stopped coming in once I stopped giving him the attention he wanted from me and once my partner stopped serving him. This isn’t an isolated incident. The one student who I consider my worst student (out right told me he was going outside to take a call to get answers on an exam, sexually harassed my then partner at the time, openly admitted to having someone else write his essay, told the administration that he exchanged sexual favors for a good grade from me–when he got an F he said it wasn’t fair and more) had come in, refused to tip my partner after fighting about his bill (he claimed that he was told martinis were only 3 dollars), then proceeded to tell people to not tip the bartenders because they were “exploiting” him. Said students have been banned from the bar for harassment but it still worries me whenever I see my students when I’m having my every day life. I hesitate to add them to Facebook. I dislike engaging them outside the classroom.
I refuse to let them in.
There are good students who I consider acquaintances or casual friends and maybe one or two who I consider to be friends, but I’ll always have that sneaking suspicion that I’m going to be taken advantage of. I feel the same way when I’m at the bar. I’m harassed by people (most of them also in the industry) about my relationship with my partner and told that I’m “holding him back” and “scaring customers away” when they find out we are in a relationship. It’s difficult because I spend time with the regulars than I do the people in my program, but I don’t feel as much of a connection to them other than “I spend several hours with you a day.”
I wonder about community and about the social spheres I am building. I find a little ostracized by both and put off by both at the same time. Perhaps this is all just an exercise in patience. After all, people say that teaching is a form of customer service–maybe customers and students are both the same.