I am Learned Helplessness

by Mr. Sheehy

The drain in our bathroom sink is plugged and the water is actually rising, since the faucet drips slowly. It stopped on Friday morning and we poured $4 of Drain-o down to no avail (yes, it was the gel stuff), its liquid death now a threatening ingredient in the mess. I don’t possess the homeowner tools one would use to solve this problem, and this is a spot where we’re going to enjoy the call-someone-else aspect of a renting relationship with our home. But our landlord has not returned our calls, and I hadn’t shaved since Thursday morning.

Ellen rubbed my chin last night, noticing the change: “You have lots of whiskers.” Then, pointing to her own upper lip, she continued, “Up here too. It’s almost like a mustache.”


Five days’ growth and it’s almost like a mustache. This morning I carried the mirror into the kitchen and rested it on the window sill, ridding myself of what was almost an embarrassment my students would never have let me forget. Such is the power of motivation that, if the mirror didn’t come off the wall (leaving in its stead a hole and dusty wires running into the abyss I generally never want to see – adding to the feeling of classiness I was feeling at that moment), I might have borrowed a C-wrench – or whatever it’s called.