08 March 2013

"Not Necessarily Genre"

By Curtis C. Chen

"Why is he wearing one glove?" I whispered.

"Quiet," Anne replied. "He hates interruptions."

We were sitting near the back of the lecture hall, fingers poised over our tablets to take notes. But Professor Glendor hadn't covered anything new yet. I also couldn't believe he hadn't noticed that his left hand was purple.

"That's a sterile glove," I hissed. "If he came from his lab—"

"Apparently someone has a comment," Glendor's voice boomed.

His eyes scanned the room. I sat perfectly still.

"Now you've done it," Anne said.

Glendor pointed at me. "You!"

I gave Anne a dirty look. "Thanks a lot."

"Would you like to share your scintillating conversation with the rest of us?" Glendor asked.

"I was just wondering," I said, "why you're only wearing one sterile glove, Professor."

He squinted at me. "Who are you?"

My mouth felt dry. "Jodette Shah."

"I didn't ask for your name," Glendor said. "Who are you?"

My tongue was a desert. "I-I'm a third-year pre-med—"

"No!" He smacked the podium. "Who are you?"

"I don't understand the question!"

Glendor stared at me. "Come down here, please."

I walked to the front of the lecture hall slowly. I didn't want to trip and fall and make an even bigger scene than I already was.

"Now," Glendor said when I was standing next to him, "I'm going to ask you a different question. Why does it matter that I'm only wearing one sterile glove?"

"It's just—unusual."

"What makes it unusual?"

"You wouldn't wear gloves unless you were doing lab work or a medical procedure," I said. "And you wouldn't wear just one. You walked into class like that, which implies—possibly—you removed the right glove and forgot about the left one."

"So?" Glendor said. "Maybe I'm just eccentric."

"You've never done it before," I said. "And it doesn't matter which situation is more likely. Not knowing is the problem."

Glendor nodded. "I'm going to ask you again, Miss Shah: who are you?"

I took a chance. "I'm the one who asked the question."

"Close enough!" Glendor snapped off his glove and addressed the room. "Miss Shah is the only other person here with even half a brain.

"If any of you shared her concerns about why I walked in with a sterile glove on one hand, you sure didn't speak up. You see something out of the ordinary, you ask about it. You're afraid you'll look dumb in front of your peers? Get used to it.

"Given the choice between saving face or saving your patient, which do you choose? If you have to think about that for any amount of time, get the hell out of here right now!"

I leaned over and asked, "May I sit down now, Professor?"

"Sit down?" Glendor pulled me over to stand behind the podium, then sat down in the front row. "You're giving the rest of this lecture."

As much as I hated the old man in that moment, I also fell in love with him that day.


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