tears at the margins

A friend and I, both from an earlier era than the college students we worked with, regularly exchanged stories about the behaviors that left us nonplussed; this story is from a 2013 email exchange:

“Remember your story about the teacher who hid her tears while writing on the board because the student came to class in pajamas?  Well, Tuesday afternoon toward the end of our three-hour class, we were working on how to write a full-point essay answer on bio exams.  I went over to the farthest table and was stunned to see one of the guys coloring a page from a coloring book.  “Are you coloring,” I asked.  “Yes,” he answered with a huge smile.  At that moment, I flashed to your story and just stood there, stunned.

On his way out the door, he handed me the colored page he’d been working on.”