Believe it or not, there is a such thing as too much freedom.
If you've ever been a student in an English, Literature, or creative writing class then you've probably been asked to do some kind of free writing. Thinking back on it, most of you will have some kind of cringeworthy, angst-filled, poetry in your pasts.
It's bad enough thinking back on your own writings, but imagine what teachers and tutors must deal with. They've got to read these assignments from every student, in every class, every year. They must have so much cringe to share!
Reddit user DarkLazer215 asked:
Yup. We called it. It's like cringe-central in here. Pull up a seat, folks. We've got death, furries, foot fetishes, an interview with God and at least one butt rash so bad it ended a marriage.
I was teaching an test prep class to high school aged students in China. One of my students is planning on being a nutritionist. I gave her a topic about what she would change if she could be the president for a day. She could have written anything - but what she wrote was honestly terrifying.
She said that she would imprison everyone who was over a certain BMI until they were thin, and if they were repeat offenders they should spend life in prison for wasting public resources and making healthcare more expensive for everyone else.
Well... It wasn't the topic itself, but a student literally cited TheOnion as one of his main sources. No, they didn't do it as a joke, it was 100% unironic. They literally used TheOnion to support their thesis claim and failed the assignment because it destroyed the entire paper's credibility and argument.
That was enough to make me lose hope.
Hitting Too Close To Home
I teach literature at a college and mostly deal with freshmen and sophomores. For our freewriting unit, one of the assignments asked the students to write any original story based on your favorite fictional genre. So, one of my students wanted to do horror. I said great! That's also a favorite of mine. Go nuts.
Eventually, the assignments are turned in and I'm grading them at home. I get to the kid with the horror story and it's about a serial killer who stalks women. Okay, whatever. Nothing I haven't seen before.
But then the story goes into long, excruciating detail about the next victim: a petite blonde in her early 30s who teaches English. And it just so happens I'm a petite blonde in her early 30s who teaches English.
I didn't report it or anything since it was a creative exercise. I didn't grade him unfairly, either. But I seriously couldn't look that kid in the eye ever again.
My HS English teacher had to state, due to a submission the year before, that writing about your foot fetish and pleasuring your SO with your feet would not be read or graded.
English tutor here. I had a student in high school who was really struggling with the writing prompts I was giving him (he was studying hybrid genres in school, and how to write a hybrid genre short story). So I basically gave him a long list of genres, told him to pick any two he wanted and combine them to write a story.
He didn't get it.
He emailed me asking for clarification, like "which topic do I choose here?" and I told him he could be as creative as he liked. Pick horror and sci/fi, pick mystery and crime, pick romance and mystery, whatever strikes your fancy. I literally could not have given him an easier prompt.
Then he asks me to give him some examples of hybrid genre stories, so he has an idea of what to write. So I emailed him a list of famous hybrid genre books (e.g. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, Gun With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem, Harry Potter, etc).
This kid basically latched onto "Harry Potter" and rewrote the sorting ceremony from Philosopher's Stone, word for word.
There was no orientation (no info about his main characters, who were coincidentally also called Harry, Ron and Hermione), no complication, no climax, no resolution. It was literally just an incomplete retelling of the sorting hat ceremony from the first book.
Not only did this kid fail to think of a single creative story idea, he plagiarised one of the most famous books of all time and was daft enough to think I wouldn't notice.
It really made me despair.
Counselors Were Needed
Two stand out.
First one the prompt was "If you could go back and change one thing from your life, what would it be?"
A young man wrote about the night his abusive alcoholic dad came home. Apparently from the story, dad came home this way often. The fateful night he wanted to change was the first time he stood up to his dad. Dad came home, kid defended his mom and dad left in a drunken rage. Dad got into a head on collision and died. Kid totally blamed himself for his father's death.
2nd story the prompt was "Create a holiday and include the traditions and customs of the holiday."
A student created national black people day. I was like OK, how are you going to celebrate it? She said by killing white people. I questioned her, kind of shocked. She said yeah, once a year we can kill as many white people as we want.
I got the counselor involved in both of them.
An Unexpected Rash
This guy wrote me a paper about how his swampy butt ruined his marriage; describing it initially as an "unexpected rash." He wrote at length about how this "rash" caused his wife to stop having sex with him and refuse him any intimacy. After some time, he and his wife got a divorce, and he promptly blames the rash for it.
It isn't much later in the paper (at this point a good six pages long) that he details his struggles with proper hygiene due to cheap toilet paper causing this rash.
So, because this guy couldn't wipe properly, he lost his wife, his kids, and his sanity... to the point where he decided to come tell me about it.
Personal Interview With God
Former English adjunct here. One time a student wrote about a first date that went horribly wrong, including running over a cat and having it stuck to his truck tires, and then vomiting at dinner.
Another one that stands out wasn't a topic, but an assigned research paper. A student maintained that she didn't need sources, because God told her the information. She actually cited God as a personal interview in (correct) MLA format.
Interest In Blueberry Muffin
I was teaching a University 101 class. Study habits, how to write essays, time management. How to get by at college for kids who honestly aren't really ready for college. The assignment:
"1 paragraph about something that interests you."
One of those "essays" read:
"I am interest in blueberry muffin. Like how they round on the top and ripped on the sides. That what I like."
I kept that on my fridge for a year.
Not a teacher, but in 3rd grade I moved to a new school. I was in a Montessori before, the new school was a catholic school. I was a Unitarian Universalist, and we always called our preacher Reverend, not Father.
In my new school, the school priest, Father Jim, was retiring and we had to write a short essay about how much we'll miss him. This was like, I dunno, the third day of school? I had no clue what the hell a Father Gym was, and since nobody bothered to write out his full name I assumed this school just had a weird name for the gym. So of course, I wrote an essay about how much I'll miss the gym, and how terrible it's gonna be that I can't run all over it or play football in it anymore, and how terrible it is that the gym is "re-tire-ing." I ended the essay wishing the gym well with it's new tires.
The teacher was not amused.
A Poorly Made Koala Head
Not a teacher, but in middle school I was forced into this leadership class. The last project we did in that class was a 5-6 minute presentation on any subject of our choice. There was this scrawny and weird kid in the class that was always on his phone and he never talked to anyone.
Well, presentation day comes around and this kid rolls into class with a poorly-made koala head and we all assumed that he was going to inform us about koalas or something.
This kid, full of energy, storms up in the middle of the room and gives an extremely detailed presentation about his fursona. I remember his presentation time being far longer than 5-6 minutes and no one stopped him. He even went over common vocab used in the furry community and shared a couple of paragraphs from his poorly written fan fiction involving his fursona and another character.
I felt incredibly bad for this kid because he was extremely creative, but instead he spent all of his time and creative efforts on something that doesn't really matter all that much.
I used tutor Middle Schoolers and lower class men who just graduated high school. A kid wrote an essay about Cavemen using Hieroglyphics to communicate how they'd fight the dinosaurs. The assignment was to write about an early human civilization and compare and contrast their way of life to ours.
This kid was in AP World History (effectively a college level class), and didn't understand that there was around 63 million years separating Dinosaurs and the first Homo-Sapien civilizations. He then told me that I was incorrect and posed the question "If dinosaurs were dead then how did people ride them?"
I was truly baffled by that.
Not a teacher, but my classmate once wrote a solution essay titled ''Why do black people steal bikes - and how to stop it'' One of the solutions included spray painting black people white. I wish I was making this up.
No Future For Us
I am a student teacher in South Africa.
We are having a practice debate in English class and the matter of discussion is basically: FURTHER EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT / NOT IMPORTANT. The student are 12 years old. Upon introducing the topic the students seemed immediately irritated. When I asked them why, the one kid (who always speaks without raising his freaking hands, no matter how many times you tell him) said, without any emotion whatsoever:
"What does it matter what we do, there is no future for us anyway."
My heart dropped. I honestly love children very much and as a student in South Africa I know how difficult it can be. The locals literally throw rocks at students, burn buildings, vandalize buildings to the point that there are nothing left, burn cars and tires and disrupt classes by literally swearing at you, telling you, you should all be dead, jumping on the tables, even grabbing examination papers from students and tearing them up and disrupting sporting events by storming on the fields mid-game.
The country is in a rough place, but not yet in ruins and this is the future generation intended to save it. I have never felt more helpless in my life than that day- seeing a class full of faces that should be dreaming about becoming doctors and nurses and scientists and engineers, are utterly, utterly hopeless.
Needless to say, we never got to the debate. Spent the rest of our time trying to convince these students that they can change their circumstances.
We've all said something stupid, let's not lie to ourselves.
It's okay to say something stupid. It showcases the real person on the inside, that we're all flawed, imperfect, and made of cooky combinations of words that don't necessarily line up to make sense. Sometimes we're nervous in a situation, other times we're just hitting 'Quick Reply' in our brains and what comes out doens't work, but whatever the reason, you for sure are going to remember it, late at night, for the rest of your life.
What is the stupidest thing that ever came out of your mouth?
You may not have to change your home address because of these moments, but you should probably reconsider how many public outings you go to afterwards.
Should Probably Never Shop At That Store Again
"When the cashier said "Have a nice day", and I replied with "No, thanks".
"Background: I wasnt thinking straight that day, and thought they said "Do you want a bag"
That's. How. Twins. Work?
"Her: the twins are 3 years old"
"Me: Both of them?"
"Oh no this unearthed a memory i had buried from kindergarten lmao"
"We had a set of twins in our classroom and once on their birthday party I said "your brother got such a cool party, i hope yours is nice like this too" to one of them and he was like "yeah, this one"
"4 year old me was not a very bright kid"
That's. How. Death. Works...
"Watching the documentary 'The Last Dance' when a Kobe interview pops up -"
"Me: "Wow, they must have filmed this before Kobe died."
"My wife: "Yeah, obviously…."
The cringe comes out of nowhere, and you're not even sure how you were able to ask something so incredibly stupid, but here you are. Lounging in the stupid air.
You Should Have Asked What "Nothing" Tastes Like Next
"In my head I was wondering what one pound of water would look like in terms of volume. What I said out loud however was "How much does a pound of water weigh?"
Keep Up With Me
"A couple of months ago, I got up and drove to work as usual. Later, my girlfriend texted me from home to ask me if she had left her sunglasses in my car. I told her I wasn't sure, but she could grab my spare key and go check."
"In my car."
"Which I had driven to work."
Black Is White, White Is Black
"I don't understand why people place bets on who wins, why not just place bets on who loses?"
"Yeah took me a minute to register what I said..."
And then there's these stories, where the person is probably better off cutting off any human contact henceforth going forward. These are rough to get through, folks.
Should Probably Have A Chat With HR After This
"I was about 4 months into my current job, feeling confident being fresh off the contract-to-hire period, now moved into a coveted full time role. While walking back to my office from the morning kanban I was stopped by my boss, head peeking out of the office:"
"Boss: "Hey TheMediator, do you have a sec?"
"Me: "For you, I've got lots of secs!"
"Boss: wide-eyes, mouth dropped"
"If you're curious why this was incredibly stupid/embarrassing, try saying the phrase "lots of secs" out loud. Preferably, not to your boss though."
You Don't Need College Anymore. Go Home. Bury Your Head In The Sand.
"In my freshman year of college I was dorming next door to a couple cute girls. About a week into the first semester one girl walked from the coed showers to her dorm room in her towel still wet. We were both unlocking our doors to get in our rooms when she looks at me and says…"
"I know I look stunning…(sarcastically)"
"To which I replied, "don't flatter yourself."
"I had to slid a note under her door explaining I was tongue tied as she was beautiful and I meant to say "don't be hard on yourself, you look great." (Or something to that nature). We became good friends."
It's In The Descriptor?
"Chatting to a homeless guy on the street and he told me he was feeling unwell. I told him he should be at home, resting."
"It's been 20 years and the memory of it still brings me out in a cold sweat."
Oh Good Lord...
"Asked my friend how his mom was doing at his moms funeral."
"Jesus Christ this is the worst one on this thread. What was his response?"
"He looked at me and then the casket and kind of smirked. I awkwardly started to try and explain and just said "I'm an idiot. You know I love you. Talk to you in a bit." He makes fun of me now and I can't stop laughing. It's a positive painful memory."
Own up to your mistakes. You'll garner more respect by acknowledging the awkward things you say, however, it's perfectly fine to laugh about it in the moment. That's probably the easiest way to escape the deep, deep shame.
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The advice "fake it til you make it," though often said with at least a hint of sarcasm, does carry quite a bit of wisdom.
By simply putting one foot in front of the other, weathering the chaos of not knowing what's happening as you learn as fast as possible, we can find ourselves further than we expected.
Once we're there, reaping the fruits of all our "faking," we somehow begin to take on a new identity in people's eyes They assume we've always been in control and known what was going on. They defer to us for advice.
But that couldn't be further from the truth. So we keep on faking it.
Redditor espectro11 asked:
"What's your 'I don't know, I didn't think I'd get this far' moment?"
Many Redditors discussed their experiences navigating the intimidating environment of job applications, interviews, and offers.
Oh Right, Getting Paid
"I gave my resume to fancy private school (I'm a teacher, but new to the field) and I didn't expect a call back. But they called me today to ask my expected salary and I said 'I don't know what the average is. Let me Google it.' "
"Ya girl was not prepared."
"When I went for a walk-in interview looking like crap and they hired me on the spot. I get they were hiring for a new store, but they up and said 'if you want the job it's yours, when can you start?' "
"Deada** didn't think I'd make it that far."
Outside the Box
"Years ago I was applying to a bunch of copywriting jobs and feeling frustrated because I wasnt hearing back from any of the places I was applying to."
"It was especially frustrating because I was putting in all this time on cover letters and I felt like nobody was even reading them, so I said, 'Fu** it, I'm gonna write one that is more me.' I thought it was a dumb idea and never imagined that it would work, but somehow it did."
"I applied with this cover letter and the subject line "Copywriter: Will Work for Beer" to a job that I was very underqualified for. It managed to catch the eye of the headhunter for the ad agency and was enough to get me an interview. Shortly after that I was hired and ended up working there for a few years, but I remember thinking on my first day, 'I can't believe that actually worked.' "
Just Not the Right Fit
"An interview at Google. The 20 years younger than me was describing the peer review system."
"I responded with 'Jesus, that sounds awful.' "
"I did not get the job."
Others also shared experiences that centered on their working lives. But these stories weren't about being hired or interviewed.
These were accounts of long-developing success stories that they never would have predicted.
A Winding Road
"My entire legal career"
"I have four degrees and a 10 year career in commerical litigation. I just wrapped up a $200mil trusts lawsuit."
"I started at uni doing theatre and stand up comedy. I have no fu**ing idea where I turned to get here."
"Started at a very small company doing sales straight out of college. I went about messaging big corporate players (who obviously would never do business with us since our size) and was laughed at by my new colleagues for even trying."
"2 weeks later My boss was asking me what we (a team of 6) should say on the conference call with Toshiba Buyers."
Putting Fires Out
"Me at work. I feel like every issue that comes up has me unprepared. But I am always praised for my good work."
"So, I assume I have imposter syndrome and keep doing what I am doing."
So next time you find yourself ruling a possibility out completely, maybe take just a few seconds to imagine it actually occurred and prepare.
You just never know.
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I'm going to be perfectly honest––I'm a city boy. I'm not a huge fan of hiking or camping. I happen to be a huge fan of running water. Have you heard of it? It's great. Highly recommended.
I've also, on a more humorous note, watched far too many horror films over the years and don't particularly like idea of running off into the woods only to piss off some demon that was perfectly fine until I arrived. I also have immense respect for our friendly neighborhood serial killers and demonstrate this regularly by staying out of their territory.
Those who love the great outdoors had plenty to share after Redditor Your_Normal_Loser asked the online community, "
Hikers of Reddit, what is the weirdest or creepiest thing you've come across while hiking?"
"The only reason..."
"When we were exploring the Australian Outback as university students, my friend and I found an old, tightly wrapped plastic bag with five or six damaged wallets along shrubbery at the base of a cliff.
The only reason we opened it up was because we were so remote - hundreds of kilometres from any town or tourist attraction - that it was strange to see garbage out there. All the cards were in female names and birthdates placed them in their late teens to early 20s. Some lived in the Northern Territory but one was in Sydney and another from Queensland. At the time we figured rock climbers must have stored their valuables in the bag and then lost track of it. I'll never forget the strange look the police officer gave us when we handed them in."
You see... this is why I wouldn't go mess around in the Australian Outback.
I also may or may not have watched Wolf Creek one too many times.
"A recliner on a small hill with a hole dug out in the middle and water bottles all over the place."
"A trashed campsite..."
"A trashed campsite complete with the tent cut open...
...do you report these things, or what?"
Or maybe not... you might want to turn back.
"The walls were completely plastered..."
"I was walking in a thick forest and came across an opening. In the center there was a shack made of lumber, with a bench built into it that was slightly leaned back.
The walls were completely plastered in porn."
Well... that's one way to get off.
"The man stopped talking..."
"I was backpacking with a few friends. A few days in the middle of nowhere, a man approached our camp as we were cooking dinner to say hi. We talked about our routes for a few minutes. Out of nowhere, he told us that he had had a vasectomy in his 30s after his 2nd child. Then somehow his wife had gotten pregnant with his 3rd child. He didn't believe this was possible, so he demanded a DNA test to see if he was actually the father. He was. Still, he explained that he had his doubts and thought that his wife must have fixed the DNA test.
My friends and I were in our 20s and had no idea why this guy was telling us this. We all just nodded and smiled.
The man stopped talking and then just walked away into the night."
"I stepped in..."
"I stepped in and fell over a cow carcass on a night hike. It was a bright moonlit night but I didn't see it in the shadows. Thankfully it was mostly dry."
"We still have no idea..."
"I was in the woods with three friends at night. A friend's house was nearby and I was getting hungry so I went inside to find some food. Another friend came inside with me. Two friends were still outside.
Later on, one of the two who outside came in and sees the indoor friend on the couch next to me. They panic and immediately run back outside.
I poke my head out the door asking what's going on, only to hear them yell as loudly as they can, "THAT'S NOT KEVIN"
Everyone comes inside and calms down a bit, and the story comes out. They thought the friend who was indoors with me (Kevin) had been outside with them this entire time. Why? Because in the darkness of the woods they saw a silhouette about the same height walking alongside them silently, then at some point it ran away and they were chasing it thinking Kevin was running off for some reason. The reason my friend yelled, "That's not Kevin" was to stop the last outdoor friend from chasing whoever was out there deeper into the woods.
We still have no idea who that was or why they didn't even speak."
This story sent a chill running down my spine.
Who was that?!
Perhaps figuring it out would be even scarier.
"Went hiking with my dad..."
"Went hiking with my dad one day over a ridge. A girl from the group in front of us tripped and slid down one side and was just able to hold on to the tiniest branch from the only tree around. Had she slid down all the way she certainly would be dead or massively injured!"
"I was trying to make my way across..."
"I was hiking in Washington sometime in December. I was trying to make my way across a river but the bridge was out. I was walking along the shore looking for a shallow spot but couldn't find one. I saw some footprints leading down the bank, my thought was that someone was trying to do what I was doing and decided to track the prints to see if they crossed. It was not easy but I followed the prints for about a mile. As I approached what looked like a crossing I heard a loud BANG like a stick hitting a tree. I froze for a few seconds and heard no other noises. I just slowly back up keeping my eyes on the other side of the river. Could not shake the feeling that I was being watched. Got the hell out of there quick as I could."
There are few feelings creepier than the feeling of being watched. It makes you feel like you've been violated in some way.
Thankfully you got out of there!
"I thought it was a magical, beautiful moment..."
"I was hiking with some friends, and I saw a cluster of butterflies on the ground. I thought it was a magical, beautiful moment until I realized they were congregating on a pool of blood. It turns out that someone had been hiking on the bluffs above earlier that day, and had fallen off and died."
Sooo... still want to go hiking or camping? None of this changed your mind? None of it?
It was nice knowing you. I'll stick with my running water.
Have some creepy stories of your own? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments below!
Have some experiences of your own? Have you also survived the hospitality industry? Feel free to tell us about it in the comments below!
Time is of the essence. And time is not definable. Those are lessons we learn as we get older; as times passes and fluctuates in front of us.
Time is always fleeting yet always catches up to us. I find myself shocked when I wake up on certain days and realize I'm a particular age of my parent that sticks out for me.
Like, how did that happen? I guess I should just be thankful I'm still here to witness it all.
Redditor u/TW1103 wanted to discuss the meaning... of time and all of its affects by asking:
What fact really puts the scale of time into an insane perspective?
Ok, who is watching the clock? Those seconds aren't going to count themselves. The only way to understand time is to be its witness. Although that can get depressing. Let's focus on the light and cool.
History...Calculate Figure It Out GIF by OriginalsGiphy
"If you are an 80-year-old American, you have lived through approximately 1/3 of our nation's entire history."
"The 80s were 40 years ago."
"This is what messes me up because I was born in 82 and graduated high school in 2000 so for some reason my brain is stuck on the 80's being twenty years ago. The 70's thirty years ago etc etc. I have to stop and realize sometimes that my concept of how long ago things happened is way off."
Time goes by...
"We observe that light travels at 186,000 miles a second, but given the vast size of the observable universe, that's a snail's pace. But from the point of view of a particle of light, time doesn't even exist."
"Time slows down as you approach the speed of light, and theoretically stops completely when you reach the speed of light."
Years Gone By...
"MLK Jr. and Anne Frank were born in the same year."
"Betty White was born in 1922. Automatically pre-sliced packaged bread loaves became commercially available in 1928. Betty White is six years older than sliced bread."
Long Live the Queen!queen elizabeth images GIFGiphy
"The queen and Marilyn Monroe would've been the same age."
I swear Liz is going to outlive dirt. Wait, I believe she already has. Well she won't be alone, she'll have Betty White. At least she better have Betty. Time is nothing without Queen Betty.
TV TimeSeason 2 Omg GIF by Paramount+Giphy
"Happy Days was a TV show made in the 1970s-80s about teenagers in the 1950s. Similarly, That 70s Show was made in the 90s-00s about teenagers in the 70s. If a similar show were to be made today, it would be about teenagers in the 2000s."
"If a T-Rex imagined a creature as ancient as the T-Rex is to us, it would be a Stegosaurus. If that Stegosaurus imagined a creature as ancient as the Stegosaurus is to us, it would be a Crocodile. If that Crocodile imagined a creature as ancient as that Crocodile is to us, it would be a Shark."
On the Clock
"On a twenty four hour clock the amount of time that humans have been on the earth would total around five seconds."
"How about this one: If Homo Habilus first appeared at midnight, 24 hours ago, that means the first Homo Sapiens appeared at 9:25 PM, or about 2 and a half hours ago. The first human civilization, in lower Mesopotamia, appeared at 11:57 PM, or about 3 minutes ago."
"The Western Roman Empire fell at 11:59 PM, or 1 minute ago. Everything that has happened since - the Crusades, the Plague, the discovery of the New World, the world wars, all of it - has happened in the last minute of human existence."
And that's just OUR Sun...
"The span of our lives are so insignificantly small that our Sun will last another 5 billion years. That's 9 zeros people. Our eldest live to around 100 in the best places. That's 50,000,000 (50 million) times longer than any person can reasonably expect to live. And that's just OUR Sun. The universe as a whole has probably existed for magnitudes longer than that already and will continue to exist until the end of time as we know it."
Tell Me a Storywilliam shakespeare GIF by will herringGiphy
"We know what a good storyteller Shakespeare was but there were Greek playwrights who wrote shows nearly 2,000 years earlier that are pretty good, too."
I hate time. Only because I'm petty and irritated of the amount I squandered. That's neither here nor there though. Time marches on and continues to amaze. I'll keep watching.
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