Q: What are the best ways to wheedle an extension out of my professor/TA? How should I convey my desperation without sounding like an insane and worthless procrastinator?
A: The staging of an extension plea is inherently a study in bullshit. The key is to remember how many different modes of communication you have available to you to aid you in your farcical attempts at persuasive perjury.
I myself have the shifty eyes, so I cannot hazard a face-to-face encounter unless it occurs in a situation where sunglasses will not add to my aura of lunacy. However, for the person who can claim to be freaking out about finishing an essay when really he/she is only worried about the final, mom-edited draft getting faxed on time, I recommend an in-person interview. It should go something like this:
You: Can I bother you just for a few minutes?
Person with Power over your Future: Sure.
You: I have been deeply troubled by this essay question about issues of gender in “The Canterbury Tales,” and I don’t want you to think that I haven’t cried tears of blood in my quest for the perfect three-page response, but I really feel like two extra days would make my answer worthy of publication in all academic journals of worth.
PWPOYF: I can see by your emaciated figure and the purplish-green sacs under your eyes that you are not lying! Extension granted.
For the earnest, yet unorganized, I advise the somewhat sketchy yet sincere phone call. Sure, your TA said his/her phone number was for emergencies only, but your expensive education has taught you the ambiguity of words such as “emergency.” Follow this script, and you may avoid a restraining order.
Answering machine: You have reached Emily Smith and her boyfriend Joe – you heard me, mom: boyfriend! – but unfortunately we are deep in a discussion worthy of our graduate-school-student-status so leave a message, and we’ll call you back! Joe, stop, it’s still recording! BEEP.
You: Uh, well, I really, really didn’t mean to call you at three in the morning, but, uh, I’m sure you’re up reading “Beowulf”… again, so, uh, here goes. I have written the most amazing outline of this paper comparing images of feet in Faulkner’s early novels with the images of rain in Swiss poetry of the First World War, and it occurred to me – at three in morning, that I had only begun to comprehend this relationship! Can’t make genius follow a schedule! But of course you know that. God, you’re smart. Uh, so I was thinking I need to totally rewrite my paper. Or at least put the third page at the beginning and invert the structure of pages four through five … But the point is, if you don’t give me this extension, I’m worried I won’t be able to fully grow as an intellectual on the cusp of revelation. I think there’s a Shakespeare quotation that could say this better than I’m doing, let me just look it up in my Bartlett’s … One sec … Almost got it … BEEP.
To request a few days because you are actually pained in some way that YUHS has diagnosed as fatal – meaning you’ll recover if you eat enough cough drops and wear an Ace bandage – you should use the Facebook message (friending a dashing TA is delightful) as your medium:
Hey there, Alex. It was totally awesome seeing you at Toad’s this weekend! Who knew that TAs partied so hard? Not to say you don’t look like you’re ready for some fun. And I’m so glad you friended me because I have spent a really great three hours looking at your photos (you’ll see I tagged myself in one!). You’re in fact so photogenic I kind of lost track of time (oops!) and didn’t get a chance to do my entire problem set. So I was thinking, if I could get a few extra days, maybe we could grab a cup of coffee (or punch? Beer? Whatevs) together and you could help me because you know so much, and sometimes I forget to take notes because I’m looking at your hair. Your hair is so shiny. OK! So let me know. I check my Facebook, like, every 10 minutes, so anytime before dawn would be great! XOXO.
If you are asking for an indefinite postponement of the due date because of your general feelings of lethargy and malaise, I would advise an e-mail, the least personal form of communication, for which you can follow this format:
Dear Professor Crumball,
I am mired in a terrible state of ennui. I don’t know how it started. It could have been the death of my gerbil, Crummy, who met his maker through a kamikaze escape attempt. I don’t know. I recently had all of my belongings stolen, and I just haven’t felt so great since I broke all of the toes on my left foot playing ultimate Frisbee. I know you are so understanding because of the time you let me sleep on your couch when I found out during lecture that Grammu had died. So if you could just let me have some “me time,” and say that this essay can be due, well, in the future, I think that would be good for me and my recurring eating disorder.
Emma Allen is full of crap! Never trust her again!!!