Professors have lives outside of Longwood. It’s okay, I was shocked when I first discovered this fact, as well. They buy groceries, they breed, they cut their toenails, and they even go to the bar.
I’m used to the lunch crowd; administrative staff clucking away about their co-workers over portabella paninis and caesar salads. Professors meet with their spouses, enjoying a warm day on the patio and talking about their day. I enjoy seeing familiar faces during lunch, and even during a dinner rush, but then there’s that awkward night when a young professor rolls up around 10 p.m.
Mind you, like all things, the atmosphere is different in the summer. There’s a handful of maybe 30 students that come to the bar , and otherwise you’re safe. I’m actually hopeful and delighted when professors come in, but the later it gets, the stranger it is that you’re there. This most recent encounter was on a weekend night, and the professor showed up around 11 p.m. alone and talked to no one. Awkward.
The occasion is rare because most professors, and rightfully so, don’t seem to really want to see their students in a social setting outside of the classroom. And from what I’ve observed, when a professor comes to the bar, it’s like a celebrity graced the students with their presence. “THEY’RE JOINING THE COMMONERS.” A choir of drink offers begins just as the professor takes their seat at the bar. Quite frankly, if I were a professor, I’d be there all the time. You wouldn’t have to buy a drink all night in hopeful exchange for a good grade on that research paper that was due the day before.
Sidenote: Any good professor wouldn’t raise a grade because you bought them a drink. It’s not like they sit at home the next evening and say to themselves, “Eh, yeah she plagiarized half of this, but she did buy me a vodka and cranberry during happy hour.”
I’m not saying that they aren’t allowed to or that they shouldn’t, but the interaction is very amusing for everyone involved. Yes for the students at the bar, but also for this waitress. I hold a certain amount of power. I serve the drinks, break up fights, clean up, set up, handle money… It’s a weird swap of roles. I’m responsible for getting their pint of Blue Moon while they dangle my GPA in front of me three days a week. It’s strange.
So what’s the proper etiquette? Avoid them and let them live their lives, ridicule them for being old and at the bar, or try your hardest to act like it’s not completely bizarre that they’re there. I try my hardest to take the last approach.
But you watch them. Secretly count the pitchers or bourbon & gingers they’ve had, watch who they interact with… Did they come with others? Did they go out front to smoke? What kind of cigarettes? Have they been here often? Maybe it’s just the reporter in me, and I don’t stalk them around the restaurant, but I do have checkpoints throughout the evening. Polite conversation about how their summer has been going, crack a cheesy joke about IDing them (gets ’em every time), then you are both on your way.
So professors, come to the bar. Have fun, behave yourself (like everyone else), and be aware that you will be treated like Elton John walking into an Applebee’s. Enjoy your free “Natty” pitchers. (Sorry, it’s all your students can afford.)