It seems that almost every class we do, “THAT GUY” shows up. In the instruction industry, the “THAT GUY” is reserved for the individual who is the exception to every rule. He’s the one who came to class, not to learn, but to challenge the instructor and show off what he already knows. He’s the class clown, but never funny. He’s the guy who breaks the rhythm of the class, and ensures no one in the room can be productive. No one likes “THAT GUY.”
I joke, in many classes, by announcing who “THAT GUY” is in the room. I never identify the real one. I just call out someone in the room I know, and use the term to offer a little sarcastic fun making of a student. As a policy, I never speak of the real “THAT GUY” in public. After class, when the instructors meet for our official debrief / choir practice / taco eating meeting, he will be discussed. That’s when we, as a team, refine our techniques, and learn to better deal with him, and the other students in every class.
This post is not about that guy. This post is about one of the times I was wrong about that guy.
We have a regular student, a guy who attends many classes a year, who always shows up with unusual equipment. Generally speaking, the students’ equipment we see in every class is very much alike, except this guy’s. He always has an odd handgun, in a cheap holster, with ammo I wouldn’t shoot on a bet. And in the beginning, I’d think, “so he’s THAT GUY tonight.” It easy for me to assume that people who who fall outside the norm in any group, are, in some way, trying to announce that the group is wrong. Dressing “funny” is a good way to draw a lot of attention. Nuts, if you dress funny enough, you’ll draw a lot of police attention. I just figured this guy was THAT GUY.
I was wrong. I’ve watched this guy in many classes. I’ve seen him come to class with junk guns, and I’ve seen him make those junk guns work. I’ve seen him apply himself, and make huge progress in his abilities. I’ve seen him struggle with those junk guns, but grit his teeth in determination, and finish the drill anyway. I’ve realized he’s actually the coolest guy in class. THIS GUY actually places a higher value on his skillset and abilities than he places on his hardware! He may be the only one in class who actually gets it. He actually has a much higher understanding of the art I’m trying to teach than any other student in the room. He’s spending his money and time making proficiency, not buying stuff. My admiration of him is growing by the day.
I have purposely been as vague as possible about the identity of the student this little rant is about. I don’t want to bring any unwanted attention or notoriety to anyone. I would, however, like to offer a public apology, anonymous as it is, for thinking poorly of the coolest guy in class.