Why I Hate Taking Attendance
Greetings on this overcast Monday from Cebu.
I hope all is well with you and you had a restful weekend. I had a great time myself doing a whole bunch of sleeping. Boy, I definitely needed it. No booze, either; just total recuperation.
My college roommate, Tommy, wrote me the other day, remarking how much he liked the Rude and also saying how he wanted to be in one. I cracked up because, funnily enough, I have just the story for you.
B-52s and Fake IDs
Back in 1995, I was a junior at Villanova. I still was only 20 years old.
In fact, I had just turned 20, which meant I wasn’t going to be able to go to the bars until December 20, 1995, in the middle of my senior year.
You may remember me softly scolding my mother for sending me to school early in another edition of the Rude.
By that time, I hated being one of the youngest intensely.
So I smartly went to get a fake ID.
Back then buying a fake driver’s license in New Jersey was the easiest thing in the world. It was only a piece of laminated paper with one little cheesy insignia that any graphic designer worth his salt could copy.
I remember paying $60 for it.
What was great about the fake ID was it gave me a fake name, Sean Mahoney.
It gave me a fake address as well.
And allegedly – although I think this is false now, I totally fell for it at the time – if you typed in Sean Mahoney and the license number on a police computer, my fake address would come up.
So just in case I got caught doing anything I shouldn’t be doing, I could get out of trouble easily.
Anyway, we decided to try it out one night.
So my college roommates, Tommy, Joey, Marty, and Gramps, went to a pub out in the boondocks to test it out. (Gramps looks the same age now as he did then. Hence, the nickname.)
We figured that Philly bouncers were way better than the boondock bouncers, so we went to a country bar about 45 minutes off the Main Line in Philadelphia.
The name’s “Mahoney, Sean Mahoney.”
I said, “Guys, please don’t screw up. Call me Sean Mahoney all night.”
So all night long, it was Mahoney, Mahoney, Mahoney.
They dutifully did a wonderful job. We went in there, we drank inordinate amounts of beer, and stupidly started doing B-52 shots.
Yuck! I wince as I think of those stupid shots!
We decided to vacate the premises at 3:30 AM.
Unfortunately, that morning at 8:30 AM Joey and I had an Introduction to American Government course. Our professor actually took roll.
Since attendance counted for only 5% of the grade, I should’ve known better and stayed in the dorm room all day. But I didn’t know anything in those days.
Joey is a really great guy. So at 7:30 the next morning, he somehow got me out of bed.
He literally carried me to what we called the Pit, which is where we ate breakfast. I had a Philly cheesesteak to try to get rid of the hangover.
Then we walked up the Rape Trail – Villanova, good Catholic school – over the SEPTA line, straight to Saint Thomas Villanova Church, bear right into Tolentine Hall.
Once there, I dutifully passed out on my desk.
I Thought Your Name Was Ring
Dr. Driscoll, our professor, took roll for every class, which is why we showed up in the first place.
But as she was calling roll, she was going down the names and suddenly said, “Mahoney,” at which point, I raised my hand.
She had a puzzled look on her face and, of course, I gave her “The Jersey.”
You know, the look when someone from New Jersey sticks his chest out and his hands up in the air, like, “What’s your problem?”
I noticed she wasn’t quite looking at me but through me.
So I turned around, and I saw another guy with his hand up.
I gave him “The Jersey,” too.
But little did I know, he was The Real Mahoney.
The Penny Drops
You know when you have that moment and you’re looking at people thinking everybody else is crazy? Then, you look toward your friend for a little solace and comfort that you’re not going insane?
I looked to my right where my college roommate, Joey, was sitting, and I saw tears streaming down the side of his face.
He was laughing so hard, he was crying. I’ll never forget that look.
At that moment, I realized I was not, in fact, Sean Mahoney.
My professor simultaneously looked at me and said, “I thought your surname was Ring?”
I looked up at her and said, “Never mind. It’s a long story.”
Then I put my head down and slept through the entire class.
I Never Take Roll
Ever since that moment, I have hated taking attendance.
Even nowadays, when I teach these grads at prestigious investment banks, and I have to take attendance, I bristle.
But it got me thinking, am I really saying something every single day that’s going to change your life?
Of course not.
Is a subject that I teach for an hour and a half during the day going to really make a huge difference to your net worth?
Was any class that Dr. Driscoll taught that critical?
No. It was basically a math test to see how dumb you are to show up at every class.
My good friend and teaching mentor Simon once told me his only goal for his class was to see one student gasp and his eyes widen. The “A-ha” Moment.
It’s a worthy goal, and I hope I have that effect both in class and on the page.
But while I do hope you read my Rude every day, what I’m really aiming for is overtime to institute a sea change in your attitude.
Over time I want to make you think just a little bit differently than you did a couple of months before.
I hope I’ve been doing that for you because I am not taking roll every day, I can tell you that much!
Of course, if you miss a day, we have a whole webpage where all of our articles are posted anyway, so you could catch up at any moment.
In any event, I hope you had a wonderful weekend, and you’ve enjoyed the Rude so far.
Have a wonderful week ahead.
All the best,