I had a consultation straight out of a "What not to do while tutoring" manual this week. I walked into the center's waiting room sunshiney after a pleasant and rewarding global revision consultation and immediately became confused. Another consultant had helpfully given a file to who I thought was my next appointment. I waited for her to fill it out, and then walked with her to a small consultation table. After a long stint where she took off her shoe and scratched her foot she informed me that "Bob" would be coming in a half-hour, he was sorry that he couldn't make it. (It was a 60 minute session) I looked at the file and saw that it was, in fact, Bob's file. I asked if they were collaborating on a paper together, and she told me no, she was Bob's scribe, we should probably get started on going over the paper to make sure that it flowed smoothly and didn't have the words "it" and "but" in it.
I was a bit taken aback, proceeding without Bob, but I decided we should pick up and move to a bigger table since there would be three of us meeting when Bob arrived. I assumed that Bob's scribe was someone arranged through disability services--she had talked about it so matter-of-factly. But as our conversation continued (without Bob) and she consistently pushed me to proofread the paper in front of me, I realized that she was probably Bob's mother or something. I was completely confused and taken aback and instead of "Freeze-Framing" the session and calling her out on this paper that she outwardly admitted to writing that had Bob's name on it, I continued to allow her to force me to proofread. Finally, after 50 minutes, Bob showed up. (He had been talking about the paper with his professor!) They fought about things, Bob telling his scribe what she had done wrong, sometimes changing the pronoun "you" to "we" but always slipping back into "you" and the scribe taking offense to the offered suggestions, all the way pushing the paper in front of me to get me to search for more surface errors.
So after 55 confusing minutes I finally toughened up and told the scribe that I wanted to talk to Bob about his paper, and Bob had a couple of valid questions that we discussed, ignoring the comments of the scribe. Who had ownership of this session? Who had ownership of this paper? Who has ownership of my lost self-esteem and confidence? Augh! I felt completely unprepared, and completely (like Sarah) like I brought my this situation upon myself by not stopping it from the beginning. Before this session, I feel I was completely a go-with-the-flow, anti-taking-control consultant, but now I guess I've been baptized into the need for authority. Any suggestions for balance?
While I admit I was once intrigued by the prostitute-consultant analogy, not by what Scott Russell had to say about it but by some of the id...