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Teachers are supposed to be fair and not pick favourites among the students. They are not supposed to show a dislike for students either. But it happens. I am sure that my Grade 11 English/ home room teacher disliked me.|
On the first day of school, back in September, 1965, I needed a new lock for my locker. The old one that I had used since Grade 9, had disappeared during the summer holidays. As the first class ended, I approached the teacher:
Me: "Sir, can I buy a new lock at the front office?"
Teacher: You're old enough to do things like that without checking with me!
I was embarrassed and a little hurt by the conversation. Later I realised that he though I was asking him for permission to buy a new lock , while in fact, I was just asking him if it was possible to do so.
My language was correct. You would not think that an English teacher would mis-interprete. Obviously the man didn't like me. I should have retorted " Sir, if I was asking you for permission, I would have said 'may'. But I was asking if it was possible, so I said 'can'."
That was 43 years ago. I still remember. If I could live my life over, that it one little scenario I would like to have a second chance at.
By the way, I'll be honest with all of you here. As a native speaker, I never say "may I?". I always say "Can I?" for both types of questions..