After a cancelled lunch date, my wife and I packed up and drove northwest for 81 miles to meet up with E, a woman in my law school class. She actually lives and works about twice that far from my home, but she was kind enough to put some miles on her car so that I could avoid some on mine. We found each other at Starbucks, which normally would be an inconsequential part of the story, except that, on this day, Starbucks was out of medium roast coffee, which annoyed me greatly. I guess I don't understand Starbucks. My assumption was that their purpose for existing was to serve people coffee. Now I know better.
E had made a quick impression on me in law school. If my memory is accurate, she volunteered an answer in the very first class on the very first actual day of school. From that day on, she seemed to become a favorite of our Torts professor, and it was not uncommon to hear her giving her two cents from over my left shoulder. On the other hand, I didn't speak to the professor even once, either voluntarily or at his command, for the entire semester. Perhaps it was no surprise then, that at the end of the semester, E was in the top 10% of our class, and I wasn't even close. This went on for five more semesters. E's reputation for hand-raising, volunteering answers, and doing well in classes swelled, as did my reputation for being lumpy.
Looking back, I can't remember if I ever assigned the gunner status to E, though I did hear some mumbles and rumbles of such. After all, she certainly did a lot of gunner-like things (e.g. absolutely destroyed the curve). But I think she was missing a couple of necesssary qualities one must possess to be a true gunner, namely malice and being an a-hole. Unfortunately, E was just smarter than most everybody else. She probably did her readings and prepared for classes too. Gasp! And, unbeknown to me until today, she really just hates the sound of the silence that occupies a room when the professor asks a question and nobody answers.
If E was a gunner, she was a poor one, since her motivation for doing well wasn't to do well in comparison to others, but simply to do well for the sake of doing well. And in the end, she wasn't being better than most everybody else because she was an ass, she was just being better than most everybody else because she was better than most everybody else. Perhaps it'd make me feel better about my law school failings if E was a terrible, vindictive person, but that just isn't the case. Rather, she is just good, both at law school and as a person.