I promised you a story, so here you go:
I’ve long since shared my shame of not graduating high school, and although I do have a college diploma, part of it is a sham as well.
In college, I found that being first in all my classes was pretty awesome. I sailed through my first term with a 97% average – the lowest mark on my collegiate report card was an A. I correctly assumed that I was pretty excellent, and continued about my post-secondary education with a sense of satisfaction and that thrill that comes from knowing you are kicking everyone’s ass and they kind of hate you for it.
Second term rolls around, and things are more of the same – I am awesome, my computer skills are not to be reckoned with, and my years of pre-internet online chatting enabled me to take my typing final exam on the first day of class and I finished the course with 105% (I got extra % because I am extra awesome). Everything is great. I am bursting with confidence and sass. I was ready to take over the world, and nothing could stop my awesome Office Administration Power!!!11one.
Then my Accounting class started.
Every once in a while in my travels, I stumble across something I just DO NOT GET. Cases in point include the spelling of “convenient”, how to crochet, the instructions for my sewing machine, how to properly hook up all my casting equipment. My functionality blindness flared up again in Accounting, and no matter how long I studied or paid attention or did all my homework over and over again, I just DID NOT GET IT.
I was in an utter panic – I was failing at something, and I did not like it at all. I just couldn’t wrap my head around debits and credits and why I would want to know all this crap, since I wasn’t planning on being any kind of accountant whatsoever. Worse, my inability to learn how to account was affecting my fabulous GPA. Things went from bad to worse when our class was told that in lieu of traditional tests, 75% of our grade would come from a term-long accounting project: three months of real-time, non-electronic accounting for a restaurant business. The workbook for the project was frankly terrifying – it included a 25’ long grid in which you were to show your work for every single day of the project. The class was an introduction to accounting, so there were no computers – it was all by hand, and it was fucking horrifying.
The accounting class made me burst into frustrated tears more times than I would like to admit, and I was completely fucked over this project. If I didn’t do it and do it WELL, my entire GPA would sink and I would not ever become Ruler of the Universe because I couldn’t grasp the concepts behind basic accounting. Life sucked. To say that I hated it would be a vast understatement; each second I spent wrestling with accounting made me want to vomit and burn things and also beat the quasi-hippie teacher up for choosing such a ridiculous life profession.
There was some small comfort to be found in knowing that I was far from the only person having trouble with the class and the project. The quasi-hippie’s classroom style left a lot to the imagination, and she tended to teach like a Choose Your Own Adventure book – start at the middle, then go back to the beginning, then jump to the end, then oops you’re dead so turn to page 47, and so on and so forth. Still, that didn’t help us at all with the final project, the one that would pretty much dictate our upcoming careers in the exciting world of Office Administration. Fail it, and we were fucked. Fucked! Life was NOT GOOD!
Then I found the Answer Key.
Backtrack: the hallways were lined with teacher offices and comfy chairs for lounging. One such lounging area had become a book depository, where anyone (usually the professors) could leave old books that were free for the taking. The table was usually full of old textbooks or manuals, with the occasional trashy novel thrown in for good measure. After class one day, I melodramatically threw myself into a chair to contemplate my upcoming failure at life and also to browse through the new offerings on the table. And then .. I saw it. It was purple with white text, and it looked vaguely familiar. I fished it out of the pile, and stared stupidly at the treasure I just unearthed from a pile of old English grammar text books – it was the fucking answer key for the accounting restaurant project. As in, the actual printed answer key that came with the package of projects, to be used by the teacher when marking student work. Someone had cleaned out their office and not needing or realizing the value of the book, they tossed it onto the free table – and I found it.
I shoved it into my bag and almost flew home. Over the course of the next month, I quickly filled out my project grid, making just enough mistakes as to be believable – erasing numbers and re-writing them, making simple adding mistakes, forgetting to calculate a tax, etc. I shared the answer key with anyone else who needed it and promised to keep their mouth shut, and we handed in our final projects with a smug sense of Getting Even with the Man and not a little thrill at the awesome level of sneakiness we displayed in our fraudulent work.
I finished Accounting 101 with a B+, my lowest mark in my entire college career.
And I still haven’t used any of the accounting skills I learned in the course.
Take that, educational institutions! Score one for me!