"Use quadratic formula only," said an undead Suzy Homemaker, "I don't even know what that MEANS!"
"I'm sorry you feel that way," I said, commiserating with her, and pulled out the red pen. "F."
"Base EIGHT? I have trouble with base TEN!" cried a wizard.
"That's too bad," I replied. "F."
Suddenly, Puss in Boots scurried up with the answer written neatly at the bottom of the problem. "I solved it! I solved it!" he cried in triumph.
"You used the computer," I accused him.
"Hey, you didn't say I couldn't use 'bc,'" he protested.
"I said 'no calculators,'" I snarled, and yanked away the paper. "F," I scrawled with my trusty red pen.
"Hey, that's no FAIR," he protested. "You said no calculators! You didn't say no computers!"
"I thought that was understood," I replied haughtily. "If you'll just look in your student handbook, it's all there under the honor code."
"But ... but ..." he persisted.
"Oh, very well, I'll give you one more chance." I handed him the unsolvable quadratic equation.
"Hey, what's this fine print say, I can't read it?" he asked.
"It says 'IMPORTANT: Use quadratic formula ONLY'," I told him.
I took the opportunity to give out a few more red F's. This was living, folks, let me tell you. The power -- the sheer gut-wrenching fear I was inspiring -- it was intoxicating!
"Minus eighteen!" Puss in Boots said triumphantly, "It's minus eighteen!"
"WRONG!" I cried, and reached for the paper, my red pen at the ready.
He held it out of my reach, "It is NOT wrong," he said. "That's totally the right answer!"
"It's the answer to the equation all right," I agreed, "but NOT if you don't use the quadratic formula. You didn't use the quadratic formula. Therefore, you FAIL."
"I did too use the quadratic formula," he lied.
"No you didn't."
"Well how do you KNOW I didn't?" he asked. "It doesn't say show your work!"
"I know," I drawled patronizingly, "because it is IMPOSSIBLE to solve that using the quadratic formula because you end up with zero in the denominator!"
"But it's still the right answer!" he just wouldn't give up. Students! I ask you!
"Look, you didn't follow the simple instructions. Therefore, you get an F. How hard is that to understand?"
"Well, well, I couldn't read the instructions! I told you that!"
"Yes, and I verbally explained what the instructions were. If you have a visual disability that prevents you from viewing or following the instructions, you need to get down to Student Services and fill out the request for waiver paperwork. But you didn't do that, now did you? No. You did not. And therefore ..." I grabbed the paper away from him and wrote "F." I handed it back and walked away to the sound of his continuing protests.
Geez, man, these students will try to get away with ANYTHING. I can't believe my dad puts up with this day in and day out. I had more love and respect for my father at that moment than I had ever thought possible. I wiped away a small sentimental tear brought on by thinking about the towering achievements of my dear, beloved father in continuing to teach mathematics for so many years.
Well, okay, there were no tears involved, but I was definitely starting to appreciate Dad's point of view on certain things like people reading instructions and so forth.
Around about this time, Zoot Suit Guy (whom we all know and love as Cabaret dude from last year) showed up with his moll. "What are you supposed to be," he asked a bit condescendingly.
[to be continued here.]