Today I returned a book that I got on an intra-library loan. Since there were people in the office chatting, I decided that I’d stay in the library on campus instead of being distracted. I wasn’t going to get through my optional reading of materials tangentially related to my paper if I was being distracted by sports scores, television chatter, or whatever else was being discussed in the office.

I left intending to return the book, but I forgot to pack a highlighter, and my pens must have been removed when I repacked the contents of my bag yesterday, so I was unable to mark sections of interests in my reading. It wasn’t going to be a good use of my time to walk all the way back to the office for a highlighter, and I didn’t know if there was a place in the library to buy simple supplies.

I did remember seeing a student of mine studying when I walked into the hallway. He was studying at a table near the soda machines, so I went to ask him if he had a spare writing implement. It turns out he was writing with just what he had with him, no pen or anything to spare. I didn’t want to interrupt him, so I apologized and slunk back to my individual study area to get back to my reading. It was just a small chance that I knew someone to ask, and he wasn’t under any real pressure to help me. It’s just one of those, “Well, thought I’d ask. Never mind,” small events that happen when you don’t properly prepare sometimes.

After a page of reading or so and no highlighting to mark my progress, I was thinking about packing up and moving to a coffee shop or just returning to a quiet place once I bought a pen. I took a little break, and happened to turn my head towards the door of the study room as it opened. My student entered, found me, and offered his pen. He said he was going to the dormitories anyway, and since I needed the pen I could return it to him later in class tomorrow. WOW! That was so incredibly nice!

I spent the better part of an hour or more working with his pen, and I made extra sure that I put the pen he loaned me back in my work locker so when I go to hand out his exam tomorrow I’ll be able to return it to him. It saved me a lot of time, and I got a few new concepts learned because I was able to take notes. I wonder if my control over his grade had anything to do with his willingness to track me down and offer his pen? It’s probably a safe bet that it did. If he was inconvenienced by it, I’ll need to apologize tomorrow.