When I finished my doctorate and landed my first teaching position a favourite professor of mine had a few choice words of advice for me.
We were sitting in his office and he looked at me and asked: "Will you be teaching undergraduate students?" I said yes and he went on to ask: "Are you still a vegetarian?" I said yes and he laughed.
"You will be eating meat off the hoof in about a month of teaching undergraduates", he said with a huge grin on his face.
When I got to Portland in the summer of 1997 I informed anyone who would listen that I was a vegetarian and had been one for more than three years.
I filled my fridge with the usual no-meat goodies and was on the lookout for good vegetarian places to eat while remaining determined to prove my professor wrong.
As the term progressed I came to understand some of what he meant. I mean it is not like I did not teach as an assistant in my graduate days but now was decidely different.
Undergraduates have a way of testing your being in ways that are mostly worked out by the time they become graduate students.
By the end of my first term my old professor's warning found me eating chicken this and that at places up and down Broadway and elsewhere in Portland.
I have wondered in the more than a decade since then if it was my experiences with undergrads that turned me 'bloody' again :)
Yesterday a group of students visited me in my office to discuss a course I am teaching.
I started talking about the course and its expectations when the youngest in the group said very loudly, "I don't know a thing about politics and I am mostly not interested."
I looked at the student with irritation. The kind of irritation that made me remember my professor's words and it also reminded me that I was kinda laying off meat again.
My blood was boiling. I remained calm and leaned back in my chair and described what was needed to complete an assignment.
At that point I wanted to tell them about the words of my professor. I did not. Instead I let it go and let them go not too long thereafter.
As I crossed the parking lot to where I parked my truck I thought that it was late and I needed to eat.
A really big juicy steak with fries like the kind you get at those cheesy family eateries in the US southwest would be nice I thought.
Aaaaah, but since I'm in South Africa's North West province I settled for the leftover three bean curry and rice I cooked the night before.
Maybe I am getting the hang of undergraduates after all. Or maybe I am just delusionally optimistic.
I hope Mooi will have a braai (barbeque) this weekend in Joburg where we are gathering to celebrate his anti-45th birthday.
Dunno, but it would be nice. Hope you listening Guru and please don't invite any undergraduates, pretty please :)