2:20 PM

One Great Thing About Graduation

I've decided to update today with a look into what my life has been like the past week or so. Or yesterday, if you want an epitome of all my feelings, cares, and stresses over the hell that is my communications research project.

Let me start with a disclaimer: I like doing research. That's right, stone me now, but something about hitting the books, turning page after page, procrastinating every 1/5th of a second on Facebook, and complaining loudly about all of the work I SHOULD be doing while I sit for two hours in the cafeteria with people I barely know.

But the finished product is always fun - who doesn't like being pat on the head, with a "good job!" thrown in there like a Milkbone, the right to sound like the world's most front-running expert on the subject (at least to your friends and family who don't know any better) and a big, fatty stack of graded paper with that "A" on top.

It's a form of heaven, I'm telling you. So are the bragging rights that come with it. And when the topic is something you love - a.k.a. not the topic I'm working on now - then the research is even more enjoyable.

So why do I hate this research project? THIS GUY.

That's right, it's a group project. And I'm stuck with "that" guy who has managed to: 1) miss most of the classes for the semester, 2) miss almost every group meeting, 3) done zero hard work on the assignment.

Lucky for me, I have two other group members: Mr. Reliable and Mr. Mostly Reliable. Granted, I know that none of my group cares about the grade except me. I'm an over-achiever, a bit of a bat out of hell when it comes to group project work not being evenly distributed, and a perfectionist. (It doesn't help I have one semester left, in essence, and this grade counts!) But I digress...

What is my issue with Mr. Anchor? Why can't I just let a fellow senior slide? Here's four reasons why I'm within one badly timed remark of taking my pencil and committing crime ala Joker style.

1) The Literature Review (a.k.a. the long boring crap at the beginning of the paper that makes it seem like the researcher had some clue of what they were doing instead of going off an idea that "came to them" while on the toilet)

Picture this. You're staring down your research paper, six things in hand you want to talk about, and four group members. Ok, only three showed up (that's ok, but not really), but your sure the fourth had some good reason for not coming (he doesn't). If everyone takes one, then doubles up on another variable, surely you can BS your way through enough of this to sound convincing! So you dole out responsibilities then break to start researching and be done before the deadline of spring break, only two weeks away.

Spring break comes by, and you have enough information to turn in. If you don't, you've managed to finish it that night before you take off to get wasted at your grandmother's 87th birthday or sleep off that Red Bull overdose you're suffering from after that one night in the library (what happens on the second floor stays there). Bingo, you're done, and have it sent to your other reliable team member who offered to compile it. Everyone else is behind, but you're sure they'll catch up (at this point, you still have hope, how cute).

Then Spring Break ends, you come back, and the weeks scream by. You find yourself suddenly having to send e-mail after e-mail to the others. You're the one who has to put the survey together, nag about the literature review, and don't forget you have homework for your Birdwatching Class that involves memorizing all 129 species of duck and imitating their calls, as well as weaving a Navajo styled basket at the public pool.

It comes down to the last week before the thing is due. You saunter into the library thinking that perhaps your strongly worded e-mail (not sure how strong "please" is, but no one can say you're rude!) had an effect. There's Mr. Anchor himself! He has his laptop open - great, he has something!

"Oh, hey! Yeah, that lit review? Working on it now."

Your eye twitches (good think your skull's keeping it in). You look at his screen, and sure enough, he's on sentence one. Of variable one. You feel like this.

Fortunately, the school computers can't be taken off the desks for you to throw at Mr. Anchor's head... And don't worry, he WILL get it done! It will just be crap.

2) The Surveys (a.k.a. here, you can do my job!)
So you need 100 surveys filled out. You have four team members, and simple math says, calculating in possible errors in survey-taking (who forgets to fill out age? you'd be surprised at the number...), you dole out 30 required surveys for everyone to bring back, filled out.

Should be easy, right? You struggle through this part because you have enough friends to beg surveys from, and enough guts to bug random people in the library to fill-this-out-or-I'll-die!

At the computer lab, you start entering in the 75 questions, by hand, into the program, with help from another group member. Oh, look, there's Mr. Anchor. And he's handing out surveys...that were due today...he's on number six. Ok, maybe he can do it, you reason as you smash the living daylights out of the number pag (sorry button 5).

Sure enough, he pulls through! Angels sing, you're amazed! HE IS GOOD FOR SOMETHING! Hope floods your heart and you feel like Yoda would have if Luke had finished his training. As Mr. Anchor hands off the surveys, he says:

"Here, 35 filled out!"

And then he wanders off...leaving you with 35 more surveys, plus yours and your partner's, to fill out. Thanks, partner. Glad to know you don't have to do anything menial, like, oh, do data entry. That's what you're there for, right?...

3) The Crappy Job on Mini-Project (a.k.a. that's due tomorrow?)

So you didn't realize that there was a small presentation on some completely unrelated communications topic. It's one of those things that takes a simple event (e.g. drinking milk from a straw) and gives it some stupidly complicated and pretentious name for the sake of science (e.g. drinking milk from a straw = voluntary radicalization of aqueous solution displacement theory). Ok, you can do this. It's only two pages of reading. How hard can it be?

Oh, you're the only one with the book? And no one has any idea what theory it is? Awesome. Call the teacher; he doesn't know, and now he knows you're slacking. Which means you have to do a good job (how many video clips can you jam in?).

You marshal the forces, with help of the other two reliable members, and sit down to work on it the night before. Mr. Anchor is there, and you feel like with his extroverted nature, you have to do well!

Too bad he spends the entire time doing nothing. You don't even have any idea what he's doing. And even worse, he comes to class and reads his presentation (that you made) off of the Powerpoint. And we all know that's cardinal sin number one in Powerpoint land.

Even better, that handout you were required to have? He "made" it, but didn't bother doing anything to make it look nice except put it in Word. You were the one that had to download the brochure template, put a funny LOLcats like comic on the front, and make sure everyone's name is spelled correctly.

4) The Results/Discussion (a.k.a. describing what you actually did with all those numbers you plugged in)

You don't hate on people who miss class - at least, not a lot - as long as they get what's going on. But when the class is essentially a semester long research project, with high expectations, and based on a statistically program that has crawled out of the depths of college hell to make communication class life that much more intolerable, well, then, missing class means you'll miss crucial information. Like how to use that program. Or read the results. Or talk about the results.

By this time in the report, the week before the due date, you stomp into the library determined to get stuff done. Mr. Mostly Reliable won't be there, bu that's ok, Mr. Anchor and Mr. Reliable will be. You've got faith that Mr. Anchor will FINALLY be able to put in effort and help with the second largest part of the paper - talking about what the numbers mean (he won't).

You sit at the computer, open it up, and start typing out stuff with Mr. Reliable, trying to make up for the fact that you're 15 minutes late (oops). Forty-five minutes later, Mr. Anchor wanders in.

"Sorry I was late. I was eating/pooping/sleeping/flirting/streaking." You don't really care what the excuse is anymore.

"No problem, we're on the discussion section."

Silence and an uncomfortable feeling rises in your stomach. You're scared to look over. It's a horror movie, and you've just unwittingly released the kraken.

"Oh. Well, I have no idea how to read any of this." Vague gesture to the screen here, where six windows of data are open. "I'll just be here for moral support." As he opens up Facebook.

This is when you realize that Mr. Anchor has been absent from over half of the classes that TEACH you how to use this program and read the results, and he probably failed the test that was solely on this information.

You end this group meeting with a long sob session in your car to your mom on the phone, wondering why there can't be clones of you to fill in as your project members.

How do you get rid of Mr. Anchor? I have no idea. They disguise themselves as fun, gregarious individuals who have promises, marshmallows, and rainbows spew out of their mouth at the slightest chance of a job where they can rely on their slacking skills.

I can't wait for the end of the semester where I get to grade Mr. Anchor on his contribution to the report. I just need to figure out if I'm giving him a 2% or a 5%.


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