Autobiography Assignment

I am teaching ENG101 at LaGuardia Community College and this semester I am doing an entirely new research assignment: the autobiographical research paper. I am doing the assignment myself, and here is what I have so far:

 Stafford Gregoire
Professor Gregoire
30 April 2012

the shy[1] rebel

Stafford has always had a strange sense of the world.  Even in 1st grade he admired the kid who couldn’t do the normal 1st grade assignment, “naming his parents and grandparents and where they were from.”  “Tony” was a kid from down the block and his parents and parents were always around our block. They were from Cambridge, the town we lived in, Stafford could have done the assignment for Tony: “my parents and grandparents are from Cambridge, Massachusetts, just like me,” he should have said in Mrs. Pierce’s 1st grade class. Instead Tony wet himself in front of the class: “Stafford’s hero!” For some perverse reason, ever since then whenever Stafford encountered a “freak” who couldn’t or wouldn’t “behave normally,” he had a  new hero. I think that this is because his parents told him to respect people who stood up for themselves, and never to shame children who refused to conform to the norms of society. Ever since then Stafford has elevated people who refused to conform to society.  Personally, I think that he elevates eccentric people to defy conformity and make himself more unique.

As soon as Stafford grew up, he left home. Arrogant, he wanted to make his way in the world on his own. He thought the best job for him was being a bicycle messenger, where he could be outside all of the time acting like a rebel. He moved to New York City in 1979, just after the city went bankrupt and was allowed to default by the federal government. The crumbling city was perfect for Stafford because “[t]he small community often tolerates eccentricity. The city, on the contrary, rewards it” (Park, cited in Kidder 307). Like yeast in moist flour or hops in a brewery or a bully on a 3rd world police force, Stafford had found his perfect environment. It is a place where he can live the fantasy The Toronto Star reporter Cheney described as “[l]iving by your own skill and animal cunning, like a gladiator in the Roman amphitheatre, surrounded by fat and decadent citizens” (Cheney A1).  Of course, that is a young man’s dream of rebellion. And if you look at most of these imaginary heroes of the street, they prefer to keep these fantasies to themselves. So Stafford lived his fantasy life of an urban warrior.

Stafford was an “adequate” messenger who thought he was great because he could ride fast. In trying to root out the truth about Stafford’s illustrious messenger history I went and did an interview with one of the other messengers I worked with at Educated and Dedicated Messengers in 1981-1982. Robert “Bob” Koch stayed in the messenger business and now owns Breakaway Courier Systems.  I went and interviewed him at the 35th street offices and over a soda and a sandwich we discussed my performance as a messenger in 1982. His answer to the question “was [Stafford Gregoire] a good messenger” was, well, sobering (and perhaps a bit humiliating). Mr. Koch said “[Stafford] was more into “partying” than doing a good job. Now [he wasn’t] a fuck-up, but [he] wouldn’t work hard at being good at solving problems, [he’d] just do the minimum, using his speed to cover up for his hijinks” (Koch). So, as is still the case it seems that Mr. Gregoire is does things at the last minute. He does everything he is supposed to do, but he doesn’t put the planning and effort into it that could make him an excellent co-worker, professional or teacher. It seems that Dr. Gregoire is happy with “B’s” rather than working hard to get the “A’s” he’s capable of. This is undoubtedly part of his “rebel-worship” slacker personality that is holding him back.


Works Cited

“Breakaway courier.” Breakaway Courier. Breakaway Courier. 7 May 2012 <;.

Cheney, P. “Bicycle Couriers in Love with Life on Mean Streets.” Toronto Star, 27 March 1993, A1, A8. Print.

Kidder, Jeffrey. “Appropriating The City: Space, Theory, And Bike Messengers.” Theory &            Society 38.3 (2009): 307-328. Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 Apr. 2012.

Koch, Robert. Personal interview. 5 May 2012.

[1] passive aggressive

PLEASE bare in mid this is, a) a draft, and b) not the lord’s gospel truth. I hope you liked it. ENG101.1211, get writing.


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