Breaking Down Until You Snap

, , , , , | Learning | December 17, 2019

(I manage to break both my arms in a spectacularly clumsy moment. With both my arms in casts to above my elbows, I’m pretty helpless and there’s no way I can attend school, but I visit once a week to pick up my classwork so I won’t fall behind. I’m usually shy and fly under the radar, so at first, I enjoy the attention I get from my classmates, but the novelty wears thin pretty quickly. For me, at least. First week:)

Classmate #1: “You must be pretty happy to get to skip school, right?”

Me: *laughs* “Well, I like school, but I guess sleeping in is cool.”

(Second week:)

Classmate #1: *to friend* “Dude, she’s soooo lucky she gets to skip class.”

Classmate #2: “Dude, cool it.”

Me: “It’s not really all that fun. Seriously.”

(Third week:)

Classmate #1: “Wow, you must really be enjoying the vacation, right?”

Teacher: “I really doubt [My Name] considers having both her arms in casts a vacation. Now sit down.”

Me: *mostly under my breath* “THANK you.”

(Fourth week:)

Classmate #1: “Man, [My Name] is so lucky! I wish I could spend a month at home!”

Me: *completely done* “FINE! How about if you get to stay at home and I get to wipe my own a** for a change?!”


Classmate #1: “Geez, what’s her problem?”

Classmate #2: *facepalms*

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“We Don’t” Want To Ruin The Ending

, , , , , , , | Learning | December 16, 2019

I’m in high school just as schools are starting to offer computer science classes beyond typing and basic computer literacy. My school has decided to add a programming class, but they have trouble finding anyone who has a teaching certificate and also knows anything about programming. They end up having to relax their usual teaching certificate requirement and hire someone right out of grad school with a computer science degree and absolutely no teaching experience. She only intends to teach for a year until her husband finishes his degree and they can move out to Silicon Valley. Because of this, she’s made no effort to learn how to teach or how to handle a classroom of teenagers.

The class has to be formatted in a different way than others because the expensive, proprietary software we use is only installed on the computers in that one classroom. That means the class has to be designed so that every student can complete their work during class time. Each class period, the teacher goes over a new topic for the first ten minutes or so, and then we get time to work on the day’s exercises. Since most of us don’t need the full time allotted, we’re left with nothing to do for a good 20 or 30 minutes at the end of class. The teacher allows us to do whatever we want during this time, so long as we’ve finished our work and aren’t disrupting other students.

Within the first week, a group of rowdy boys comes to realize that the teacher isn’t going to enforce any part of that rule. They start playing a multiplayer FPS game together and shout at each other the whole time. Eventually, they stop bothering to do their programming exercises. If it gives them a chance to have a LAN party every day in school, they all gladly accept that they’re going to fail the class. A few weeks in, they even start to play while the teacher is still teaching, pretty much drowning out everything she says.

The rest of the class hates this. Even if we didn’t care about finishing our work, it’s annoying to have to listen to these boys scream insults at each other for an hour. It’s even worse for me and the one other girl in the class, as much of what they say is violently misogynistic.

One day, the teacher finally decides she’s had enough and says they’re going to get a punishment for their behavior. The rest of us are relieved… until she announces the “punishment.” The entire class, not just the disruptive ones, will have to write a one-page essay answering the question, “Why do you deserve this punishment?” It’s due the next day.

Obviously, the rest of us complain. We haven’t done anything, and this isn’t even going to affect the ones causing the problem. The essay counts for just a single assignment grade, and the troublemakers already have long strings of zeros in the grade book that they don’t care about. Not one of them is going to bother writing the essay at all, while the rest of us probably will to avoid our grades taking a hit.

The teacher doesn’t listen to reason and quickly types up an essay prompt so there’s a record of the assignment. She passes it around, and most people stuff it in their bags right away. I take the time to read over it.

I come to realize that it’s the holy grail of essay assignments, the type only heard of in the school’s urban legends and never actually seen. There are no restrictions on font, font size, line spacing, or margins. The only guideline is that it has to be one page long. I look around. No one seems to have noticed yet.

Knowing that a golden opportunity like this will likely never come again, I decide I have to go for it. That night at home, I type up my essay. Here it is in its entirety:

“We don’t.”

It is in landscape orientation, bold font, and the largest font size that will fit.

The next day in class, the teacher calls us up to turn in our essays. I make sure I’m at the end of the line and watch as all my classmates who actually did the assignment turn in essays written in Times New Roman, 12-point font, double-spaced. Then, I reach the teacher’s desk.

When I put my “essay” on the top of the pile, she stares at it for a moment. She glances up at me with a disbelieving look; I tend to be quiet, well-behaved, and studious, so she probably never expected me to be the one to try this. Then, she pulls out her copy of the essay prompt and reads it over very carefully. When she’s done, she nods, writes “100%” on my paper, and gestures for me to return to my seat.

In case anyone’s wondering what happened to the LAN players, they were forced to settle down, eventually. Their parents and the school administration got wind of what was going on when our first progress reports showed them all failing. The parents worked out a deal with the administration where the boys could turn in their late work for partial credit, so long as they completed all of it as well as all the extra credit exercises. There was also a stipulation that they would be kicked out of the class permanently if they became disruptive again.

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Drowning In Butts

, , , , | Learning | December 15, 2019

(I’m taking a basic lifeguarding class at a public pool. This is the only pool in the area that offers these classes, so the other students and I don’t know each other very well because we come from different towns. It is a mixed-gender class, and I am a man. We’re learning how to use the life hook — a lifeguarding tool that you slide under a drowning person’s body and use to pull them to the edge of the pool. It’s my turn to practice with the life hook, and the “drowning” person is a woman. I successfully hook her and pull her to the edge of the pool, and then help her climb out. When she gets out of the pool, she immediately storms into the pool manager’s office. About ten minutes later, the pool manager comes out and asks to speak with me. I head into his office, and my “drowning” classmate is sitting there.)

Pool Manager: “Can you tell me what happened between you and [Classmate] earlier today?”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Pool Manager: “[Classmate] tells me that you touched her butt multiple times today while she was in the pool. Is that true?”

Me: “What? Of course, it’s not true.”

Classmate: “Don’t lie! You know you grabbed my butt!”

Me: “I don’t know how I could have done anything like that. I don’t think we’ve even been within ten feet of each other besides the life hook practice.”

Classmate: “Exactly! You grabbed my butt with the hook!”

Pool Manager: “Wait a minute; what’s this about a hook?”

Me: “That’s what we’re learning about today. We were practicing using the life hook. [Classmate] was the one I was supposed to be rescuing.”

Pool Manager: “Wait, wait, wait. [Classmate], do you mean that he touched your butt with the hook while you were playing the drowning person?”

Classmate: “YES!”

Pool Manager: “Did he successfully pull you to the edge of the pool so you could climb out?”

Classmate: “Well, yeah, I guess.”

Pool Manager: “[Classmate]… that’s how the life hook works. You hook it underneath a person’s body so you can pull them to the edge of the pool.”

Classmate: “Well, he didn’t have to grab my butt to do it.”

Pool Manager: “[My Name], you’re free to head back to the class. [Classmate], please wait here for a minute while I talk to your instructors.”

(The next day, guess who we found out had been removed from the lifeguarding class?)

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Window Title Maybe Of Bracing At

, , , , , | Learning | December 13, 2019

(Early on during my time in college, I meet a young Chinese man on a student visa with whom I later become friends and coworkers. One day, I take notice of the T-shirt he is wearing.)

T-Shirt Back: “Will a front terrible
impudent shelf
it is shaken in you etc.
Also do masturbation
shedding tears this
bacillus guy wastes.”

Me: “[Coworker]… where did you get this shirt?”

Coworker: “I got it when I was still in Hong Kong. Do you know what it says?”

Me: *reads his shirt out loud* “I understand what all of those words mean individually, but together they make no sense. Can I take a picture of it?”

(He stands still with his back to me as I take a picture with my phone and show it to him.)

Coworker: *points to “bacillus”* “What’s this mean?”

Me: “That is a genus of bacteria.”

Coworker: *points at “masturbation”* “What does this mean?”

Me: “Uh… how about I just put that one into a translator?”

(I brought up Google Translate on one of the lab’s computers and showed him the translation. He reacted with a mixture of shock and embarrassment over having a lewd word on his shirt while I tried not to laugh too much at his expense. He did not ever wear that shirt again and we all joked about it for years after that. I’m not sure how the maker of that shirt chose those particular words, but it is not uncommon for people in Asian countries to use western words and characters they think look aesthetically pleasing.)

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Thankfully, It Is A Lone Wolf

, , , , , | Learning | December 12, 2019

(My family owns a ranch that is secluded but is a well-known tourist attraction for our Halloween and Christmas attractions. From January to June, we offer free tours and shows for schools, all about how we work together with animals. My family is also known for rehabilitating animals, and those who cannot be released back into the wild act as our “animal ambassadors.” My youngest son is sixteen at the time of this incident when we are putting on one of our outdoor shows for a school. Several of our animals are animal actors and have been trained from a young age, and that includes the animal in this story: our timber wolf named Sitka. Sitka is in his show harness, which we hold onto when we show him. My son brings Sitka out from his holding pen and into the outdoor ring we use for shows and goes through the safety spiel.)

Son: “This is Sitka. He was brought to us from the illegal pet trade. His former owners claimed that they didn’t know he was a wolf and tried to pass him off as a Malamute, instead. He came to us when he was about a year and a half old; unfortunately, he had already been habituated to living with people by then. So now, he works in the movies and here as one of our animal ambassadors.”

Nine-Year-Old Student: *raises hand* “Can I pet him?”

Son: “No, I don’t think he’d be comfortable with someone other than myself, my dad, or my brother handling him or touching him.”

Nine-Year-Old Student: *dejectedly* “Why not?”

Son: “Because he could bite you. He doesn’t know you and could become scared and bite you. His bite is much worse than his bark.”

Nine-Year-Old Student: *stands up and starts walking to the ring* “But he’s just a big dog!” *starts trying to climb over the fence between the seats and the ring*

(At this moment, Sitka’s attention turns to the student, who stops when he notices the wolf looking at him. This is when I arrive with one of our other animal ambassadors and notice what is going on. I try to flag down the teacher, who seems to be absorbed in her phone instead of keeping an eye on her students. I walk over to the fence, looking down to the student.)

Me: “If you want to pet the wolf, it’ll be the last thing you do. Stay on the other side and you can maybe pet the snake; is that a good trade-off?”

Student: *thinks for a moment before climbing back to his seat*

(I’m amazed that the teacher didn’t notice anything that was going on during the entire show, and only addressed her students when it was time to move onto the next activity.)

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