The students, they come to me and beg for extensions. They say, “OTS, please! The homework is due tomorrow and I need more time!”

And I reply, “I stop giving extensions the day before it’s due. That way only people who got a reasonable start on it get extensions, and everyone else who failed time management doesn’t.”

And the students reply, “But sir! I’m begging. I had a tragedy!”

Gently swirling my coffee, I ask, “Was it Covid?”

“It was worse.” They’re weeping now. “It was my mother’s roommate’s cousin’s nephew. I held him in my arms after the life left him, Mr OTS. I can’t stop seeing it.”

“Ouch. How did he die?”

“Eaten by bears.”

I sip my coffee. “You held him in your arms after he was eaten by bears?”

The student nods emphatically. “Yes. It was gross. That’s why I need an extension. I’m traumatized.”

In spite of my better judgement, I am moved. I hold up the first of three fingers. “Okay, yes, that’s pretty traumatic.”

The student nods even harder.

I lift another. “Second, ew.”

The student is forlorn. “You have no idea.”

“The smell?”

“The smell.”

We bond.

I hold up my third finger. “Finally, go wash your hands.”

“Mr OTS, about the extension-”

“No, no. Wash hands first. Use soap.”

“Mr OTS-” The student looks worried now. I think the conversation has gotten away from them.

“Safety first!” I declare. “Hands. Go wash. At least thirty seconds.” And I put my coffee down long enough to snap twice.

They run off, but when they return, another tragedy has struck. I’m gone. My office is dark. They get no extension, and they are doomed.

But at least they’re cleaner.

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