Johnny’s Failure — Part 1

Failure to Attend Class

When the police arrived at Johnny’s home in early January, they knew something had gone terribly wrong. The front door — despite the swirling snow — was wide open, and they saw a backpack with textbooks bulging from the top and a laptop computer thrown in a wastebasket near the foot of the stairs.

“This is the Troy Police Department. Is anybody home?”

When no one answered, Detective Frament gave his orders: “Brooks, you check out the garage and the basement; Smitty, you go upstairs; Welch, you and I will cover the main floor.”

Unfortunately for Johnny, each of the police officers found plenty of evidence that hinted at Johnny’s destruction. In the garage, Officer Brooks found a 1995 Corvette convertible in the process of being rebuilt. The hood was up, and parts were strewn everywhere. Similarly, the dashboard was wide open, and wires of assorted colors littered the front seat. The huge basement was mostly empty, but each side told the same story in a different way: the weight bench and treadmill on one side were dusty and covered with dirty clothes while the pool table and bar on the other side contained empty beer bottles and numerous blue and red plastic cups.

As Officer Smith explored the bedrooms upstairs, he found a sleepy college student in each bed. In what appeared to be the master bedroom, he found an overweight baseball fan still wearing his Yankees parka and his construction boots. In the bedroom that doubled as a home office, he found a pizza delivery guy still wearing the company baseball cap. And in the messiest room he had ever seen, the officer discovered a carved wooden Indian resting alongside a basketball player dressed in his jersey, shorts, and sneakers.

On the kitchen counter, though, Officer Welch found the most serious evidence of all: “Dear Johnny, Due to your poor academic performance during the fall semester, you are officially on probation for the spring. If you wish to continue your college education next year, your grades during the spring semester must show dramatic improvement.”

After their search of the main floor, the officers went upstairs. “Johnny, wake up,” said Detective Frament to the young man sleeping next to the wooden Indian.

“Huh? What? What’s going on?”

“Johnny, we’re here to figure out why you are on academic probation.”

“Johnny? My name’s not Johnny. He took off late last night, and I haven’t seen him since.

“So who are you?”

“I’m Tony,” he said rubbing his eyes. “Me and Johnny been best friends forever. We even signed up for the same science class, so we could be lab partners.”

“And did you and Johnny go to class like you were supposed to?”

“Oh yeah, we definitely went to class. We’re not stupid.”

“You went to every class and every lab?”

“Okay, we may have missed a couple here and there, but no big deal, you know?”

“What’s your science teacher’s name?”

“Bacon, I think. Yeah, Francis Bacon. That’s his name.”

Detective Frament wrote the teacher’s name in his notebook and spoke to Officer Smith: “Smitty, call the school, find out this teacher’s attendance policy, and ask him if Tony boy here and Johnny ever went to class.”

“And you, my sleeping beauty,” Frament said to Tony, “Get up, and carry this drugstore Indian downstairs; we have a few questions about that as well.”

When Officer Smith returned with the information from Professor Bacon, Detective Frament had a math problem on his hands.

Professor Bacon’s attendance policy reads as follows:

“All students are expected to attend all 45 classes (three classes per week) and all 15 labs (one lab per week), and students will receive an attendance grade. For example, students who are present for all 60 meetings (45 classes plus 15 labs) will receive an attendance grade of 100%, but students who miss 15 meetings will receive an attendance grade of 75%. Students should also know that two lates equal one absence, and students who have a final attendance grade below 60% will automatically fail the course.”

“Well, that’s pretty clear,” said Detective Frament. “Did Professor Bacon also give you Johnny’s attendance record?”

“Right here,” said Officer Smith.

“And did our young scholar make it to class as his best buddy claimed?”
“Well, he missed quite a few and was late for most of the others. Bottom line: he had 19 absences and was late 32 times.”

“Alright, send those numbers over to the math lab, and get back to me with the result.”

Written by

Jim LaBate works as a writing specialist in The Writing Center at Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) in Troy, New York.

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