Stories from school and college

Negotiations Will Resume After Lunch

, , , , | Learning | CREDIT: -Whatever— | July 28, 2021

I’ve worked in K-12 education technology for most of my twenty-plus years in my professional career. When I first started, I was the only technician for a small/medium school district of 2,500 or so students. The Director of Special Education was married to the superintendent. I reported to the business manager who used to teach technology but was not a technical person. For the most part, I was left to do my work and was not micromanaged. I got into a habit of taking my lunch whenever I felt like it or even not at all. If I didn’t take lunch and there was no pressing work, I would just leave a little early at the end of the day. Of course, I made sure all the schools were out before I left.

As time went on, I got in trouble for leaving early, so I would take my lunch whenever time permitted; sometimes it was when there was only an hour left from work, sometimes not. But I would chill at my desk and just screw off. The others in the office reported me for screwing off every afternoon. When I tried to explain to the business manager that I was taking my lunch, she said something to the effect of, “You can no longer take your lunch whenever you want; your lunch is from 12:00 to 1:00.”

No problem, message received. So, starting that day, no matter what I was doing at 12:00, I would stop what I was doing and take my lunch. If I was at my desk, I would screw off. If I was at a school site, I would go sit in my car.

Fast forward a month or two. At about 11:30, the Director of SPED calls and says his computer is not working and I need to come fix it right away. I say sure thing and get on my way. When I get to his office, he asks me to fix it and heads off to a meeting. I start in on removing all spyware he has managed to. About a third of the way through, 12:00 hits. I stand up and walk out of his office and tell his secretary I’ll be back in an hour.

Out to my car I go, expecting a phone call any minute. Sure enough, about fifteen minutes in, I get a phone call from the business manager.

Business Manager: “I hear you walked out of the SPED Director’s office without fixing his computer.”

Me: “Correct. It is my lunchtime.”

Business Manager: “What do you mean? You couldn’t fix his computer first?”

Me: “I could have, but you told me that I could not decide when my lunch break was and that I had to take lunch from 12:00 to 1:00.”

Business Manager: “Wait, that’s not what I meant.”

Me: “But that is what you said. If I stayed and worked on the computer and took my lunch at 1:00 or 1:30, I did not want to get in trouble for screwing off when I was supposed to be working.”

Business Manager: “Okay, I’ll call you back.”

She called back about fifteen minutes later asking me to please go back in and finish the computer. She said that from then on, I could decide when the best time was to take my lunch. It was never talked about again. It was nice being able to go home early when I didn’t take my lunch again.

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, , , , , , | Learning | July 24, 2021

I attended elementary school — kindergarten through fifth grade — from the early to mid-1990s. Every year for Halloween, and the three days leading up to it, our entire school became a haunted house. The ticket sales went to various other school programs and activities. This being an elementary school, you might think it was more of a kid-friendly haunted house. Nope, it was an actual haunted house. The different rooms didn’t change much, but it was pretty gruesome and people really got into it. A lot of parents would help out and the high school even gave extra credit to the students who volunteered to help. Considering how conservative the little town we lived in was at the time, I’m surprised they were even allowed to start this, let alone keep it going for nearly twenty years.

The final scare at the end of the haunted house happened when you reached the cafeteria. A man, usually one of the coaches from the high school, popped out in a Jason mask while revving a real chainsaw (with the saw chain removed) and chased you through a wooden maze that had been built in the cafeteria.

By my fifth grade year, my friends and I weren’t really scared by the haunted house anymore, since most of the scares were the same every year. We were part of the first group to go through and were mostly giggling and goofing around. We made it to the cafeteria, but we weren’t sure when or where Jason would pop out.

We made it nearly to the end of the maze when Jason appeared, revving his chainsaw. The people at the front of our group screamed and ran out the door to the school lobby. One of my friends thought he’d be funny and decided to dart through Jason’s legs on his way out. Jason lurched back, sending the chainsaw over his head and into one of the maze walls. We all froze when we heard the sound of wood splitting and the chainsaw choking as it got stuck.

A teacher who’d been monitoring the area came running in and turned the lights on. There, stuck in the maze wall, was a chainsaw that most definitely still had the blades on. Coach Jason had forgotten to take the chain off.

The teacher herded us out of there while Jason tried to get the chainsaw free. They shut the haunted house down for about an hour while all the teachers met and talked about what to do. Different volunteers dressed as monsters, zombies, etc., switched in and out of the cafeteria for the rest of that Halloween season. They kept doing the haunted house for several years after I graduated on to middle school, but they never had Jason back again.

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Shaken, Stirred, And Silenced

, , , , | Learning | July 22, 2021

High schools are noisy places, especially at lunchtime. It is in the early summer of 2011, soon after the huge earthquake in northeastern Japan. We are a ways south of where it happened but still well in earthquake country, which is mostly all of Japan. 

I’m walking down the main hallway during lunch. The hallway and classrooms are bursting with noise as 800 students all try to talk over each other. It is really quite deafening.

Then, the building starts to shake.

And the school is utterly silent. 

Everyone waits to see if the shaking stops or things start falling, maybe even including the school itself.

Luckily, the shaking stops after a few seconds and the noise redoubles in intensity in an instant.  

Only an act of God can make a high school quiet during lunch.

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If I Was Their Parent, I’d Have Ripped That Teacher A New One

, , , , , | Learning | July 20, 2021

I attended a Catholic school my entire primary school life, kindergarten to twelfth grade. Due to the mandatory cutoff date for when you can start school, I’m one of the youngest in my class; I was four when I started kindergarten.

In 1979, when I was five years old and in the first grade, I had a nun for a teacher. Our school required us to get book covers for all our textbooks. So, being young and not very neat, I pulled out one of my books for class, and the book cover was torn. Keep in mind this was a paper cover and the book was a hardcover, so there was no damage to the book itself.

The teacher looked at my book cover and then at me.

Teacher: “You’re going to Hell for having a ripped book cover.”

She walked away, and I was left terrified, a five-year-old told by my teacher that I was going to Hell. I couldn’t even tell my parents because they would take the teacher’s side.

And some people wonder why I stopped going to church when I was eighteen. This wasn’t the only reason, but it was probably the first.

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Carrying The Banner For Bad Phrasing

, , , , , , | Learning | July 18, 2021

In high school, I’m in a musical that takes place in New York around the turn of the twentieth century. One of our musical numbers is performed by a group of girls who are referred to in the script as “Bowery Beauties.” We’re at rehearsal, but we’re also on lunch break, and one of our directors is darting around to different tables.

He comes to our table, which is completely composed of girls.

Director: “Have you seen any Beauties around here?”

We connect the dots pretty quickly and figure out that he’s asking for the actresses, so we help him as best we can. He thanks us and leaves.

A minute later, he comes back to our table with an apology, reassuring us that we are all beauties and he shouldn’t have phrased it that way. I had a lot of not-so-great experiences in that theater, but that was one thing I’ll always remember in a positive light.

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