Sometimes students come in, distraught, having missed a deadline because they got the date wrong. Some of them are liars, but most of them have made a genuine error. I'm usually sympathetic but have to tell them that the system doesn't allow for human error. We academic staff don't have control of the submission mechanism and can't give extensions. Quite often I think to myself 'the date is on the module guide and the assignment brief: sort yourself out'.
No longer. The next time someone comes in with this tale of woe I will move heaven and earth to help them. Why? Because it's happened to me. In a move of stunning stupidity, I read a submission date for my Travel in Wales journal article as January 15th rather than January 5th. Was it because I wasn't wearing my newly-acquired spectacles? Or because I have another chapter deadline on February 15th? Or because I am, in the final reckoning, a moron? Whatever the cause, I've been working steadily away confident that I'd make the deadline. Indeed I was feeling rather smug that my new academic rigour and determination was going to get me there a day or two early unlike some people (in some fields extra time is always given as part of the submission ritual).
What to do? I've sent the most grovelling and apologetic email ever written to the editors begging for extra time and apologising profusely. The heart raced and the face was red as I prostrated myself humiliatingly. It's all I can do: hope they show mercy and keep writing. This is one of those occasions on which there's no scintilla of light, nobody and nothing else can be blamed. It's just me, being a dick. I've always loved this Douglas Adams line: 'I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they fly past', but it's not funny today: I've let down my academic peers and announced to them that I'm unreliable. Not good at all.
If there's any good coming out of this at all, it's that I'll be a little more understanding to students in the same position. But that doesn't make me feel one iota better this morning, I can tell you.
Update: the lovely editors have forgiven me and given me until the 15th. So relieved. Now to make it the best paper ever. I don't think I'd ever live down an extension which led to a rejected article…
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