Unless you are in the honors program or a graduate student, in which cases situations vary, you can tell me your class and a little bit about your life; I will then guess what your grades are and be right. I hardly need to see your work, because I have diagnosed you by class and situation, to wit:
Freshman/Sophomore: A, D, or F. A is a result of studying. F is a result of not studying. D is a result of not studying, but still listening in class.
Junior/Senior: B or C. At this point those persons making F have either flunked out dropped out. Those making D have improved to C, because a 2.0 is required for graduation. The A students, meanwhile, have moved to B because they are working too many hours and also because their sisters need babysitters and their cousins need sudden rides to Westwego, Harahan, Gonzales and other tenebrous places.
Some senior and graduate stars do still get A, however. This is very fortunate because the quantity of D and F people I have at lower levels are making me feel like a true failure. My grades at this time are A in alienation, confusion, longing and nostalgia. These four subjects constitute a full load.
Earlier this week I gave a ride to a colleague in another department – a rather fancy professor I do not even know, but who is also on the relevant committee and needed a ride – to a system meeting across town. We had civilized, collegial conversation on the way and on the way back, without having to watch our words or translate ourselves to the other person. It was like alighting in reality. For more than a day afterward I was in a state of exultation about having had the chance to experience reality for a few moments.