At age twenty-one, I was in my last term of engineering school. With the difficult courses behind me, an exciting job waited in California. Time to coast downhill to the finish line. Or so I thought.
Our professors, expecting waning attention among us soon-graduates, had scheduled Machine Lab for our final term. There we ran tests and made measurements simply to hone our machine instincts. A crip course, but one required for graduation.
Problem was, our instructor ALWAYS came late–thirty maybe forty minutes. Then we had to stay late to finish in the miserably hot summertime laboratory. One afternoon we conspired among ourselves. Three delegates, including myself, drifted over to the Dean’s Office. There we made a pretense of looking around. Our dean noticed and asked what we were doing. “We’re looking for Mr. Smith,” I explained.
“I’ve told him . . .” the dean started under his breath, then spoke to us. “You boys go back to class. Mr. Smith WILL be there in a minute.”
And so Mr. Smith was there, and furious. “You guys think you’re smart, huh. We’ll see,” he told us. The next class he passed out assignment sheets. Pages of complex problems covering all four years of engineering school. Remember the crip course was required for graduation. It turned into a Herculean task. But I learned a major lesson: authorities can and will exact retribution.
I didn’t let fear of retribution stop me, though. Aside from trivial matters, I believe I would become complicit, if not privately identifying foolish or unbiblical behavior. Retribution has come by public rebuke or being passed over for opportunities, most frequently from career Christians. Maybe they feel responsible to have all the answers and are thereby more easily threatened.
I’ve never gone public with a serious issue. I think in some instances, I should have. Your thoughts on this difficult matter are welcome.