Folks, I am 22 days out (including grading days and graduation) from the end of my full-time teaching career. Of course, as is always the case with a semester, we will close out with a whimper caused by carrying around bags and bags of grading instead of a big bang. Graduation at our institution doesn’t exactly go off with a wild throw of hats at the end – it’s more of a meandering, smiley throng headed for cookies.

But that said, in honor of the hilarity that is sometimes called “teaching,” I wanted to bring you three stories from the classroom of a colleague of mine. The stories have all been cleansed of names to protect the “innocent?”, and I give you my word, that to the best of my knowledge, they are true. Now, in chronological order, the tales of bathroom incidents in the college classroom.

1. My colleague notices everyone standing up and shifting to one side of the classroom, leaving one more gentlemen alone on the other side. My colleague pauses, looks around, and asks, “Guys, what’s going on here?” The lone kid says, “I farted and told them they should all move. It’s a real killer.”

What does a professor do in that situation? Call for an evacuation; make students sit back down; laugh hysterically; try to keep composure and continue lecturing with a huddle of students by the window. I’m not sure there’s a good answer. I am sure that such choices are, well, odorous.

2. This same colleague gets an email from a student, and it reads something like this:

Dear Professor,
I am sorry I didn’t make it to class today. I have had really bad diarrhea for the last three days, and I needed to stay close to a bathroom.
Here’s my paper.
Sincerely,
Your Boundary-less Student

I have no idea what my colleague wrote back, but I do know that a copy of this email now hangs in my chair’s office, discretely hidden behind a file cabinet so that she can read it when she needs a little “perspective.”

3. This week, this same colleague had a student come to class late, stay a few minutes, and then gather up his things and leave early. My colleague didn’t know what happened, but honestly, these situations arise fairly frequently in our classrooms, and so he didn’t think much of it.

Later that day, this student came to his office and said, “Professor, I’m sorry I had to leave, but I tried to fart in class and ended up pooping my pants instead.”

This situation begs all kind of questions: first, in what world does a person think they should admit that to anyone? secondly, as one of our chairs pointed out, who tries TO fart in class instead of trying NOT TO? third, as the other chair noted, what is this professor saying that allows students to be so, well, open with him? fourth, is this a level of gender difference in teaching that female professors cannot understand? (Thank God I’m a woman.)

So here, my friends, are the thoughts that keep me laughing through these last three weeks. I hope you have enjoyed them, and please, if you have any insights, do share. Any farts, well, keep those to yourself.