Red Pen Redux

The fact that the students wouldn’t get their final back led me to feel a little freer with my comments.  Of course, technically, I probably didn’t need to leave any comments at all, being that they wouldn’t see them, but it’s habit, and it helped me determine an overall grade for a long essay by looking back over what I’d written.

Sixty-plus finals.  I average about 5 finals graded per hour, but that pace slows after several consecutive hours and requires more tea to maintain.  Which means roughly 12-14 hours worth of work, plus 1 hour data entry, to be done between 5 PM Monday and 12 noon Wednesday.

So in any case, sometime around 8 PM last night (when I was starting to get rather punchy), my commentary got a little more…interesting…than normal.  Normal commentary is more in the way of “this needs to be elaborated on,” “this is irrelevant,” “you should have talked about such-and-such.”  Instead, as I looked over the papers this morning when my head was a little clearer, I see that I wrote  “BEEP!  I’m sorry, thanks for playing!” when a student said that Hemingway wrote “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.”  Or, “Holy crap, did you read this story at all?!” when a student horribly mangled the plot to “Woman Hollering Creek” and was hoping I wouldn’t notice.

In any case, I handed the sixty-plus blue-book stack to the professor an hour ago.  She thanked me and said, “If any of the students talk to you and want their finals back, tell them to come see me.”


I am comforted by two things.  First, that only a few students ever come and talk to me or my fellow grader.  And second, that it is the rare student who comes back after classes are done to see their final, when they can just check their grades online.

All the same, I now wish that I had a better handle on my sarcastic side when the caffeine-induced mania set upon me.

Power corrupts, and the power of the red pen corrupts absolutely.


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