Wednesday a student I was proctoring in the testing center yelled at me. He was absolutely disgusted by the Dell computers from 2000 he was expected to use ah pah pah pah. He complained about the wrist strain but all I could do was explain that's all we got. He asked who he could complain to and I didn't really know. I said I'd ask and that I knew we'd been trying to get new computers for a while. He countered, "Just tell someone it's for the engineering school and you'll get them yesterday." It's true. When I go to engineering/sciencey buildings it's like I'm in AI with Haley Joel, meanwhile the bathrooms in the theatre office building make me feel like I'm hangin' out in a Goosebumps novel about a Depression Era toilet ghost.
Anyway, this guy had several problems, panics sessions, angry whisperfests in the silent "distraction free" room. I kept outlining his options, but the truth is, he was just scared, not totally prepared for his final, and needing something/one to blame. As he got snippier and snippier, it was getting to be a feat for me to stay cool and reasonable. The guy left, grumbling, and I overheard him talking to one of my bosses. "Oh!" She chirped, "No worries, I'm sure everything will be just fine." And she really meant it. I don't know. If I had been that student, I might have wanted more. I personally need the solid answers, but apparently not everyone does, as what finally calmed this dude was actually not all the explanations in the world (my approach) but a simple affirmation of peace (my boss's game).
Yesterday as I was clocking in, serendipitously the student crossed me in the hall. "I'm sorry about yesterday," he said (sincerely). "It all worked out. I passed." I congratulated him, and he went on his way. And it's weird, he was relieved. I could tell. Maybe it was rollover from the test results, but I'm almost certain it was a "Oh good. I can apologize" in his eyes. I like this. To me this makes me realize...people are good. We want to apologize. We feel better when we do. How else would we have that strand of emotion if we weren't good?