I didn’t like this prompt when I read it, because I realized that answering the question would mean admitting that I am a horrible person.
I like to help people – or so I would have you think. The truth is that I don’t really like helping people, I just have an intense dislike of saying no to an innocent favour. That is how I got a reputation within my small social circle that I am the go-to person for having things edited: cover letters, research papers, 20-page essays on contemporary literature, 60-page papers on toxic waste… I’ve done it all. And I’ve done it all begrudgingly, because there are about a million other things I could have been doing with that time, like, say, sitting around staring at the walls.
But I can think of one time when I… well, I should have said no. I didn’t, but I did say something like, “Well, I’ll take a quick look at it, but I’m really busy with my own paper” (My paper took me half an hour). I had a few reasons for not wanting to help this person out: that is, she writes with all the style and flair of a poorly-written self-insertion Harry Potter fanfiction crafted by an 8-year-old, only less entertaining. Reading over her papers is an exercise of patience and resisting banging my head against a wall.
At 8, I wrote plenty of poorly-written self-insertion Harry Potter fanfiction. It is hilarious to read today, and I love my 8-year-old self for trying. I did not give her the same open-minded patience. I skimmed for grammar problems, then sent it back and said it looked fine. The reality was that she’d written over 1000 words, but hadn’t actually said anything.
Yes, I’m a bad friend. But there are some things none of us should ever have to endure in life, and half-assed writing is one of them. Even if you’re only writing a paper for a class you think is a waste of time, you should always try – it really does make a difference. It makes a bigger difference than grammar. Slapping a bunch of cliches together and filling in the blanks with fluffy meaningless words is not writing, it’s… well, it should be illegal, whatever it is. I just don’t understand how English teachers do this all the time. Reading things that people have put no effort into is so tiring, and I don’t know how to even begin to fix it – besides just putting a giant X through it all.
So, even though I should have helped a friend out and let her hand in something that wasn’t a waste of tree, I discovered that I am actually just too lazy to save the world form others’ laziness. Honestly, I’d do it again. Is that right? Probably not.