Most of us try to be as accommodating to other people as possible. But when we’re trying to meet a deadline or complete an important task, it can be hard to put other people first.
Sometimes we even do things in these moments that could inconvenience others, admitted the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor TJW350658 was distracted by a sound during their exam, which turned out to be a breast pump.
When they caused the student to not be able to pump anymore, the Original Poster (OP) if they were wrong to complain about the noisy environment.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for accidentally reporting noisy breast-pumping during an exam?”
The OP was distracted during an exam.
“I had a college test yesterday, and shortly after starting, I kept hearing a continuous sound right behind me, like a repeated tapping about every 3 seconds.”
“At first I just attempted to ignore it and figured someone was tapping heavily on their computer’s keyboard over and over out of anxiety, but it was very noticeable in the otherwise quiet environment.”
Others became distracted, as well.
“After about 10 minutes, I noticed other people in the room looking around, and I figured they were also probably trying to figure out what the noise was.”
“One lady across the room made eye contact with me with a questioning look as if to say, ‘What in the h**l is that?’ I shook my head to let her know I had no idea.”
“The professor noticed the other student looking over at me, and the student pointed in my direction, so I think the professor must have thought I had a question or was trying to get her attention, so I slightly raised my hand and she came right over.”
The OP shared the issue with their professor.
“I quietly told her I wasn’t sure what this ‘tapping’ sound was but it seemed like people were becoming distracted by it.”
“She asked, ‘Is it me making the sound at my desk?’ This confused me because this wasn’t a subtle noise, and of course I knew it wasn’t her.”
“So I said no, and motioned behind me to show her where I was talking about.”
“She said, ‘I understand,’ and went to the student behind me.”
“I didn’t hear what was said, but the noise stopped after that. So whatever, I just moved on with my exam.”
The OP found out later what the sound was.
“After the test, I learned the student behind me had been using an electric breast pump during the test.”
“Someone from my class told me I should apologize to that lady at once, because she likely had suffered physical issues due to my actions and that her whole pumping schedule was probably messed up now, and said this woman likely hates me now because of the pain she must have endured due to me.”
“I just responded that I had no idea of what was going on, so I surely couldn’t be at fault for that.”
The OP had mixed feelings after that.
“Should I have just not said anything?”
“It is very hard for me to focus while listening to distracting sounds, especially in a pattern, and I may be more sensitive to this than others.”
“I very much support people’s right to have accommodations to pump as needed, but when it’s becoming a noisy distraction to the rest, I can’t help but feel other arrangements would be reasonable?”
“And was I wrong to say something to the professor even though I had no idea of what was happening?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some said they would have found that incredibly distracting.
“I have problems with constant recurring noises. It makes me go crazy.”
“If this happens when I try to write an exam… It can ruin my concentration if there is always this little nagging noise.”
“Especially if you sit close to her, it is hard to ignore.”
“How could it be OP’s fault that he wanted to write his exam quietly without distraction? This woman should have talked with the professor and looked for another solution.”
“NTA” – Acceptable-Abalone20
“I would’ve freaked out from the noise. To me, that would’ve been the same as being overstimulated.”
“I also got special accommodations. Most of the time, people that are distracted by this type of noise probably won’t get accommodation, since the room is supposed to be quiet.”
“I also nursed for a long time. This woman is being 100% inconsiderate.” – Graceful-Garbage
“NTA. I have misophonia and this would have put me right off and/or possibly caused a fight or flight response” – jbearpvcxgvsh
“The OP was not wrong for what they did. The mother should have received an accommodation.”
“Plus, they’re likely paying through the nose for college, as was everyone else in the room who was distracted.”
“Neither the woman with the breast pump nor any of the other students should be penalized or distracted by another student.” – Jurodan
Others said the student who needed to pump could have used other accommodations.
“NTA. Who the h**l uses a breast pump during an exam? You do it before or after, not in the middle.”
“If she had some kind of breast ’emergency,’ I’m sure she could have flagged a teacher and been excused for a few minutes?” – pyrotequila85
“Most colleges have a room specifically for people with special testing requirements. Generally, that is if you have a physical or mental reason that you would have to be in a different environment, but that would be covered in this case too.”
“She really needs to just go to her counselor and ask for accommodation.” – Simple-Opposite
“This is one of those where it’s definitely different because it’s a temporary condition but it still would be covered.”
“It’s also possible that the professor would have agreed – if she’d gone right to her – to allow her to some altered test scheduled, but this is definitely one of those where no one was in the wrong.” – rak1882
“I’d believe that she had a packed schedule, and did not have another option.”
“My own experience in graduate school involved the powers that be telling my professors that pumping should not be accommodated at all. (My professors were fine with me showing up late to class and doing what I had to do. Some busybody reported it as unfair treatment.)”
“Honestly, I feel awful for her. I’m sure she did not want to pump then! An exam is not a good time for so many reasons! If she was doing it, it’s because she had no choice.” – PurpleMP12
Though that one student in class was adamant that the OP had messed up, the subReddit didn’t think so.
Not only did the student not know what was causing the sound or what the other student’s situation actually was, but the sound realistically probably was distracting, especially during something as important as an exam.
Hopefully, the fellow student will be able to receive reasonable accommodations in the future to take care of themselves and their baby, while also keeping the peace with their classmates.