Thursday, March 21, 2013


The hardest class I took in college was the second semester of calculus. I took some other rough courses as I went along, but Calc II was a bitch. It wasn’t difficult on an intellectual level, but it covered a relatively wide range of divergent—and very rigorous—math topics in a short period of time.

This wide scope is why the exams in the class were so difficult. Each test would cover so much material that you’d essentially have to pull an all-nighter for each individual section in order to make sure you learned how to solve all the problems you’d potentially be facing. I probably logged more study time, total, with Calc II than I did with any other course in college. I fucking hated it, but it was also the most satisfying class I ever took. I ended up with an A, but I felt like I earned every point of it.

What worked for me with that class, though, is that I did things right. I studied my fucking ass off because I was warned ahead of time that it was going to be a beast. I took this advice and ran with it, working through problems constantly from the very beginning of the semester.

Before the final exam, I went to my school’s math center to copy solutions to the last round of homework problems out of one of the manuals. That’s how you study for a math test: you do problems, over and over again—and to do the problems, you need the solutions. There were about a half dozen people from my class in the center studying. I went over to say hello, and within a few minutes, I was standing at a whiteboard showing them how to do problems.

One of the tutors in the lab saw this. He came over to me afterward and said, “Don’t ever give that away for free.”

I should have listened, but I didn’t, and my resultant experiences with helping people out have pissed me off to the point where I’m finished giving professional advice to anyone. I’d be a horrible teacher on multiple levels, but the main reason for this now is because I no longer want to pass along knowledge I’ve figured out on my own. I don’t think people deserve to have it. If there’s something I’ve learned how to do through trial-and-error, or a system I’ve developed myself through hours of thought and repetition—something I’ve found that works—I don’t want to let anyone else in on it anymore.

First, I don’t want to bother anymore because people don’t listen. I’ve been told that my delivery sucks, but I don’t buy that. Why do I necessarily have to be nice when I’m teaching someone how to do something? At my old job, I tried to explain how to do something to a guy who absolutely blew moose cock at his job. I went through the entire process, step-by-step, outlining an easier and more effective way for him to get things done. The guy’s reply?

“That’s your system,” he said. “I have my own way of doing it.”

Really, dude? I sincerely hope you read this and recognize this story, because when time’s up where you are, you ain’t getting a job anywhere else with your skillset. I’d teach you how to swing a hammer, because that’s what you’re going to need to learn now to do, but then I’d be violating my own policy, now, wouldn’t I?

Next, I’ve found that people will take the things you teach them and either take credit for them as though they’ve done the work themselves—or even worse, they’ll try to make money on it by passing it off as something they’ve invented. This has happened to me multiple times over the years, and as bad as this attitude sounds, the people who’ve done this have soured me on putting the time in to help others, at least on a professional level.

The result of all of this? I don’t like anyone I used to work with, but I guess you’ve established that by now.