Genesis of Dr. StrangeJob – Part II
After deciding not to pursue economics as a field of academic study, I enrolled in an undergraduate degree in community studies with a minor in philosophy. I also became a part-time social activist and mind expanding enthusiast per Carlos Castaneda. What can I say, it was the late 70’s and early 80’s. I was attending a local peace group meeting when I met the Junior High School teacher that had the audacity to fail my brilliant paper on the Peter Principle. We talked.
Well actually, I talked and he listened to me babble about how he ruined my career as an economist. I was somewhat surprised when he explained how he fondly remembered me as a student and how much he had enjoyed my diatribe on the incompetence of the education system. He recollected a different outcome. In fact, he recalled that he actually scored the paper full marks, but had purposely returned the assignment with a zero grade to show that he was in on the joke.
That couldn’t be. The paper was valued at 20% of the final course grade. I had already accumulated a mark of 72/80 without the paper and since my final course grade was 72 then I must have received a score of zero for the assignment. How else to explain the final score. He puzzled on that for a minute and then gave me this befuddled look of amusement that followed with one of those “oh shit” Kodak moments.
Turns out he was in the hospital during the last of the academic semester and a substitute teacher was tasked with compiling and entering his final grades. My teacher had initially posted a zero in his mark ledger with the full intention of changing it to 20 during final grade compilation. The substitute teacher would not have known that. As a result, my lowest mark for the year was in economics and my overall term grade point average was lowered as a result. At that exact moment, we both realized that we were in on a bigger joke. The Peter Principle was alive and well.