Coated In Snow

, , , , , | Learning | October 29, 2018

(My friend is Chinese-American. She was born in America, but as soon as she is old enough to fly, her family moves to Harbin, in China. She is 11 when they return to America. The family often travels to Siberia. It is December, but it’s not snowing. For some reason, the few other ethnic Asians here are way more bundled up than the other kids. My friend is among the least bundled out of everyone, but she is the tiniest student, by a lot. This interaction with a substitute, who has to lead the class to the yard, takes the cake.)

Substitute Teacher: “We’re not going until everyone has their coats on.”

(He repeats it, and then walks in front of my friend and repeats again, staring at her.)

Friend: “I’m ready.”

Substitute Teacher: “That’s a jacket, not a coat.”

Friend: “I don’t need one.”

Substitute Teacher: *looks at everyone else with a coat, except a tall, plump, white boy who is also in a jacket* “Hey, no coat?”

Classmate #1: “I’m Norwegian.”

Substitute Teacher: “Are you sure?”

Classmate #1: “Yeah.”

Substitute Teacher: *looks back to friend* “So, how about you? You’re not Norwegian.”

Friend: “No, but I’m from cold places, too.”

Substitute Teacher: “Even in Beijing, people wear more than that. I’ve been there.”

Friend: “I’m from Harbin; it’s colder! And I vacation in Siberia! Much colder!”

Substitute Teacher: “Chinese people don’t like cold; they never do. You need a coat. Look at you; you’re so thin and tiny.”

Friend: “I’m fine.”

Classmates: “She’s fine; can we go?”

Classmate #1: “She’s just like me; it’s fine.”

Substitute Teacher: “You are. She’s not! Now, get that coat!”

Friend: “My coat is at grandpa’s home, in China! I don’t need it here.”

Substitute Teacher: “Don’t make excuses. Show me your bag and locker.”

(The sub takes a look at everything. No coat.)

Substitute Teacher: “Well, this is ridiculous. Did you hide it?”

Classmates: “She does not need a coat; we told you!”

Substitute Teacher: “We’re all going to the principal, then.”

Classmate: “One of us is already going there.”

Substitute Teacher: “What?” *counts*

Classmate #2: “When you were looking at her stuff.”

Substitute Teacher: “Hey, you don’t leave the line unless I say so!”

Classmate #3: “Then stop asking about coats! She doesn’t need one.”

Friend: “I really don’t!”

Substitute Teacher: “Back inside the classroom, then! Everyone!”

(Half of them are back, still with coats on, when the principal and a classmate arrive.)

Principal: “What’s the matter here?”

Substitute Teacher: “We were going outside to the yard, and [Friend] refused to wear a coat!”

Principal: “Why not?”

Substitute Teacher: “She said she doesn’t need one.”

Principal: “Why do you think she does?”

Substitute Teacher: “Look at her!”

Principal: “So, she’s just small. Do you know where she’s from?”

Substitute Teacher: “China.”

Principal: “Yes, and the coldest province. It snows all winter. There isn’t even a speck of snow right now.”

Substitute Teacher: “It’s still ridiculous! And she claims to vacation in Siberia, too.”

Principal: “Does she? Well, that explains it more. She doesn’t need a coat. Get on with class.”

Substitute Teacher: “Are you sure? Shouldn’t we bring the parents in?”

Principal: “They pick her up; you can see them then.”

(My friend says they didn’t meet after all, but that sub kept on asking every time she subbed, even in spring.)

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