Monthly Archives: February 2020

To Complain…. or not to complain.

Last year a good friend of mine was having trouble understanding their Accounting course which was part of a Graduate degree they were undertaking later in life, as is often encouraged these days for older people, to stay up-to-date.  My friend had failed this subject twice already and was in real danger of failing a third time, which would have them expelled from the whole degree even though this was their last subject.  The so called: “three strikes rule”.  They told me about this and I offered to help as only a friend would; I enrolled in the same subject. 

Sitting in the first lecture with 300 others, the facilitator started with having us listening to a recording of the “Debit and Credit” song.  Really !  This was a Graduate top University Degree !  The course for me, from this low point, went steadily downhill from there.  

We had to all then sing along with the words to the “Debit and Credit” song on the large screen at the front of the lecture hall.  The facilitator even walked up and down the room checking that we were all happily singing along.  I considered asking the facilitator as they walked by, if this was going to be in the exam ( as a joke ) but thought better of it, just in case it was.  Nevertheless, moving on as they say, several lectures later I was surprised and somewhat disappointed that we never did get back to working out what was “the meaning of a Debit”.  

Reminded me of when I first started working on accounting software where Debits were recorded in the system as negative numbers and Credits as positive numbers.  What confused me back then was how “Office Furniture” had negative balances in the Profit and Loss account, along with “Electricity” and “Rent”.  It wasn’t till I read E.F.Schumacjer’s “Small is Beautiful” that I discovered how arbitrary the rules were in accounting, despite it’s ever increasing solid looking facade by the profession.

The next week we were split up into small groups to go through the lectures and tutorials together and be assessed as a group.  The problem with my group was that I did not understand a word they were saying, as none of them spoke English.  I thought, oh dear, how on earth was I or my friend going to pass this subject.  When I informed the senior lecturer about “my situation”, he said to me he had the same problem and walked away.  Sadly, hard to believe I know, but this really is a true story!

Continuing along, the question remained, how was my friend going to pass this last subject of theirs.  I reasoned there must be a way as non English speaking students were passing and passing with excellent grades.  The exam after all, was entirely in English.  Then it occurred to me: the questions in the exam ( and all the answers ), they must be secretly known beforehand.  So my friend and I did some friendly asking around with the result that my friend passed.  Me, I didn’t bother sitting for the exam nor did I bother complaining.  What would be the point.

In the early 70’s ( last century ), the University I was attending was expanding upwards at a great pace. The land size was limited and could not be extended outwards with the result that concrete buildings of 10 or more stories were multiplying each year. The only piece of green lawn you could sit on was in font of the Library which was about the size of two tennis courts.  The meeting space to hold everyone. 

I remember fondly, a nice looking women about my age that I had just met there on this grass patch, who suggested to me in no uncertain terms, that we go some place.  Sadly, I was too shy back then to say yes.  Like most quantum meets though, I saw her once more, the last time, a few years later in a bar surrounded by a few men and she appeared to be  having a great time.  Pretty sure she didn’t see me.  Or if she did, would remember me as the nice looking guy that said no.

This was also the decade when architects believed we would come to really love exposed rough concrete and as a consequence, was being built everywhere.

I seem to remember it was a normal Wednesday when I arrived for my first class for the day and discovered in amassment, like everyone else, that all theses new concrete buildings had been painted. Not painted like in this colour or that. No. These were pictures, large huge pictures. A hundred people must have been busy all night, as designs were everywhere. Snakes and ladders, large multi-coloured chess board, but mostly tall trees and huge flowers in all colours. Some designs were just that and looked like they were all created in a hurry. Everyone spent an interesting day with our heads looking up inspecting them, as we moved from one lecture to the next, at a slower pace for a change.

The Uni establishment hit the roof !   That is, the Vice Chancellor did. At least we got to see the VC walking around for once. I heard that it cost the University $50,000 in old money and weeks of work to get rid of the paintings ! There might have even been a reward to find the culprits.

What I thought was funny was where the paint came from.  About 300 litres of coloured paint and scores of brushes. Students back then had very little money.

Of course most of us knew where the paint come from, but nothing was said.  I heard someone started an art club at the University.  It wasn’t me, by the way.  Back in those days, the Vice Chancellor’s office granted money to these types of clubs, so in effect, the VC had paid for the paint, but they never worked that out.

Nevertheless, the establishment got the message and ended up planting more that a few trees and hanging up at least 54 nice paintings, all through the corridors and lane ways for us poor students. 

Even my five friends (  this sites entire audience ) they tell me they do not like this complaining story of mine.  Awhch !   But maybe they will like the next one.

© 2020, James Harry Burton. All rights reserved.