Feel-Good Stories from the Pandemic Online-Education Era: Volume One

Transitioning to online instruction during the COVID-19 crisis has been challenging for many professors and students, but in the midst of all this frustration the number of heartwarming episodes is growing.  Here are three of the more inspiring ones that have come to the attention of University Life:

—  Jake “Flipper” Swensen, a University of Florida sophomore, was beyond embarrassed when his bong exploded while he was taking an online exam in his Political Science course, Blondes in the Swedish Parliament.  His laptop was totalled, the keyboard drenched in water and hashish goo.  Rather than penalizing Flipper, Professor Roland Thunst sent him a replacement laptop at his own expense via Amazon Prime.  

Thunst observed that “accidents happen.  Hell, I was a poster child for LSD consumption during my graduate school days in the early 1970s.  Whoa, just had a flashback where my arms turn into pterodactyl wings.  Awesome!  But why do my feet look like cream cheese?”

“I wish our school had more professors like Dr. Thunst,” says Flipper.  “He gets me.”

—  English Professor Dwight Cuspy was a well-known campus curmudgeon at Franklin & Marshall College even before the pandemic, and being ordered to take his courses online did nothing to improve his temperament.  Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that he played a nasty little practical joke on the students in his Southern Literature class, asking them to write an analytical essay on “The Dirt under McAfee’s Nails,” a novella by William Faulkner.  No such novella exists, and students spent an infuriating 24 hours scouring the Internet for it before Cuspy informed them of the deception. 

Brandon Yazpoh was not amused.  A disgruntled English major whose hobby was starting small fires, Yazpoh found out where Cuspy lived and proceeded to set his two-car garage ablaze in the middle of the night, burning it to the ground. 

As he walked back to his apartment after the incident, Yazpoh had an epiphany, realizing that what he had done was wrong — seriously wrong.  He went to the police and confessed, offering to organize a group of students to rebuild the garage, “just like an old-fashioned barn-raising.” 

The professor was so touched by the gesture that he chose not to press charges, and plans to write a letter of recommendation for Brandon when he applies to law school.  Says Cuspy: “I think we both learned a lot from this episode.”

—  At the University of Vermont, beloved Cinema Studies faculty member Marvin Quofmanian thought he was downloading a lecture on “Themes from Chekhov and Woody Allen in the Fast and Furious Franchise” for his class to view.  Unfortunately, he mistakenly downloaded a pornographic video showing him being spanked by a prostitute dressed as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Humiliated, Quofmanian was on the verge of ending his life by locking himself in a walk-in freezer at an abandoned Wendy’s, but his students intervened.   They organized a GoFundMe campaign that raised over $47,000, hoping to hire Meryl Streep to play Thatcher in a new spanking video that would co-star the professor and be directed by a student from the class.  Streep, of course, won an Academy Award for portraying the Prime Minister in the 2011 film “The Iron Lady.”

Streep accepted the role, saying that she was proud to do her part to help others during the pandemic.  She will donate the $47,000 to a local charity that funds petting zoos in juvenile detention facilities. 

Quofmanian was beside himself with joy and appreciation.  “To be in a video with Meryl Streep, doing what we’ll be doing — without shame — is beyond my wildest dreams.  These students are the best.  God bless them!”

Ouch…Ouch…Ouch!  In a good way.