Punctuality is the virtue of the bored.
— Evelyn Waugh
Group projects. I hate them.
I hate them more than renewing your license at the DMV. More than trying to clip the fingernails on your right hand. More than the automatic doors that take a second longer to open than they should and so you have to wait there like a moron because it appears as though you don’t know how to open a door.
Let me tell you a story. I was put in a group with three individuals who will not be named. As much as I would love to have anyone who reads this run into these individuals, through the chance of ironic humor, and provide them with some kind of karmic retribution found only in fables, putting their names in here is probably bad karma for myself. But let me explain why I would have liked that to happen.
First, if you’re unfamiliar with the Law of Group Projects it goes like this: If you are randomly assigned to a group, you will be the only hardworking, goal-oriented individual among your peers. Furthermore, they will all suck as individual human beings. Now, that that’s established, I’ll fast forward to where I’m sitting in the library—at the time(!) and the place(!)—that we had established to meet at.
Being the upstanding citizen/student that I am, I got there a minute earlier than expected. No one was there, but that wasn’t a big deal. They still had a minute.
But that minute passed. Then another did. Then a couple more. Then a group of them drove off. Then another few gave me the finger as they skipped away. And soon, half an hour later, it was just me, the room we reserved, and my boiling frustration against humanity in general.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I should have checked my email sooner. That way I could have read the girl’s at an hour before the designated time telling us all that “something came up.” I could have read one of the guy’s email that came in five minutes before the meeting was supposed to start: “hey guys, yea, not gonna make it”. But the other guy…Oh, then there was the other guy. Not only did his email come 15 minutes after we we’re supposed to meet, but it ALSO said he was going to be a little late. So me, trying to maintain my façade of being the kind person people see me as, respond and tell him I’ll wait to work with him if he wants.
He never shows. He never replied.
So the very next day in class, the very next time I see them, I vented my frustrations to the group: “Hey, so I noticed no one could meet yesterday.”
“Yeah, my bad.”
“Sorry about that.”
“Things came up.”
“No, it’s cool,” I say. “I like hanging out in a room by myself. Loneliness is fun. So are broken promises. Not to mention being misled, trampled over, forced to do others’ work, writhing in irritation, ulcers forming on my stomach, all the while you three LOSERS are yukking it up with your friends, having a great time. Don’t you understand responsibility? Don’t you understand the dynamic of a group project? One is not a group. And one is the number of people who showed up. Where’s your respect? Your courtesy? I’m surprised you were even admitted to college, let alone encouraged to partake in this thing we call SOCIETY, after holding morals to such base and exponentially low standards as you have.
I, too, don’t want to do this. I, too, would prefer to be playing video games or hanging with friends or playing sports. Hell, I, too, would have preferred screwing over the one decent guy in our group rather than have to seal myself in the library and work on some stupid project with people I don’t even know, let alone care about, while everyone else I know is coincidentally experiencing the best time of their lives at the exact same moment I’m working on this project.
But you just can’t do that. Not if you want to call yourself human and walk and dress as humans. I’m embarrassed to share the same species as you! So you know what I’m going to do when we reschedule our next meeting and you all don’t show up again? I’m going to do ALL the work and pretend like it’s cool. I’m going to tell you not to worry, I’ll put all our names on it. Then when it comes to presentation time, I’m going to announce that I did everything and encourage the teacher to ask you questions you could only know if you had actually helped do it. Suck on that! So the next time you three self-absorbed, disrespectful, ingrates who are the metaphorical and literal descendants of jerks, barbarians, and amoral imbeciles alike, decide not to show, be prepared to have one miserable storm of an experience courtesy of Hurricane Jake!”
Or so I would have liked to have said something like that. Instead I simply replied, “That’s all right. When do we want to meet next?”