Go Big Or Go Home, Right?

, , , , , , | Learning | April 20, 2019

This is a “smart” student story. About 30 years ago, when I was just starting out as a teacher and having to be a substitute, I was called into this high school. No big deal. One day turned into two, then three and more. Then, I was told that the teacher I was subbing for would likely be out for the rest of the year, and they asked if I’d be interested in applying for the position. I had a quick interview with the principal and two members of the department after school and I was in. Yay!

I started about the beginning of October. There were six classes, three different courses, one of which was brand new, so there were no materials yet. But I was young and full of energy. After a few weeks, my department head had a talk with me about the approaching first-term report cards. Note: at this time, teachers filled out reports on those three-copy NCR forms. The student’s info was printed on top, but we had to hand-write the grade, add any comments in the space provided, and then sign it. My department head said that, as I would be merging my marks with the ones already recorded by the teacher I was replacing, and that I hadn’t really gotten a chance to know the students, to just record the grade, leave the comments section blank, and sign them. I did just that.

Sometime the morning after the reports went home, I got a message to call the mother of one of my students. On my first break, I called and identified myself. She said she had a question about her son’s report card. I was thinking the worst, that this was a parent going to beg, plead, or bully her kid into a higher grade. Nope. She was concerned about the comment. I told her that, due to the circumstances, I had made no comments on any of the report cards. She started howling with laughter, then read me the comment on her son’s card. It was over the top: best student ever, great class participation, and so on.

The reason she’d called was that all the comments from his other teachers were pretty much what she expected — work not done, more effort required, etc. — and she was curious about the one rave review. We had a good laugh about how if her son had just toned it down a bit she wouldn’t have noticed. She said she’d talk to the boy, and I took no further action than, when I asked that kid’s class if their parents had any questions about their report cards, to focus on this boy with my best imitation of laser eyes. His response told me Mum had talked to him.

I hope he learned something. I learned to never sign a document while leaving a space blank — put a slash through it.

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These Transactions Don’t Hum Along

, , , , , | Right | February 22, 2019

(I work in a card and stationery store. A woman comes in and I engage her in conversation.)

Me: “Hi. How are you doing today? Is there something special I can help you find?”

Woman: “Yeah, do you have any cards with hummingbirds on them?”

Me: “Yes, we have a bunch! Did you need them for any specific occasion?”

Woman: “No, not really.”

Me: “Okay. We have many birthday cards with hummingbirds on them. This one here is actually our top-selling birthday card.”

Woman: “Actually, do you have any Thank You cards with hummingbirds on them?”

Me: *thinking, “Why couldn’t you have said this was what you wanted in the first place?!”* “Yes, I think so. Let’s go look.” *after scanning the Thank You section* “I don’t see any out here right now, but let me check our database and see if there are any cards I’m forgetting about that we might have in the stock room.”

(I look up “hummingbird cards” and find a few options.)

Me: “Okay, looks like I have one or two ideas. Let me just run in the back and grab them for you.”

Woman: “Okay.”

(I come back a minute later with two options for her.)

Woman: “Actually, do you have any hummingbird cards that are blank inside?”

(I walk over to our blank section and pull out two right off the bat.)

Woman: “Do you have any other options?”

Me: “I think so. Let me go check.”

Woman: “Okay, I’ll keep looking.”

(I again go to the back room and look for a minute or two and find a few cards that fit the bill. I return to the section of the store where I left her, and she is nowhere to be found. In fact, there are NO customers in the store at all!)

Me: *throws hands in the air in exasperation*

(Sadly, this happens on a regular basis. Why would you leave when I was gone for three minutes max and I’m trying to get you exactly what you asked for?!)

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The Thirteenth Lobster

, , , , | Romantic | February 5, 2019

(My mother is reading in bed while my father sleeps, when he abruptly sits up.)

Dad: “How many are there?”

Mom: “…how many what?”

Dad: “Lobsters.”

Mom: *realizing he’s asleep and knowing how much he loves lobster* “Thirteen.”

Dad: “Well, get them off!”

Mom: “What?”

Dad: “Get. Them off. The BED!”

(He then lay down and went back to sleep. This was one of my mother’s favorite stories for years.)

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The Brightest Things In The Library Are The Librarians

, , , , , | Hopeless | February 3, 2019

The library has a light therapy lamp for winter blues. On this day, I’d been specifically planning to use the lamp, and I’d been having a bit of a bad day, so it was pretty important to me. Usually, no one is using it, but when I got there, there were people sitting in both of the seats. I waited ten or fifteen minutes and then asked them how long they planned to use the lamp; there’s a sign on the lamp asking patrons to limit their use if there are people waiting to use it.

They said they were going to be there a while. I told them I was hoping to use the light therapy lamp for a little bit; they muttered a few things, and while I didn’t catch the exact words, the general gist was that they weren’t moving.

I wasn’t assertive enough to press the issue or show my displeasure, but I was pretty upset, since they’d clearly been there for a while before I even got there, and I suspected they weren’t even using the lamp for light therapy. I was also angry at myself, for not being assertive both in that situation and in general.

I wanted to ask a librarian for help, but I was too nervous to, both because I didn’t want to be “that person” and because I was afraid the two patrons would overhear and get mad at me. But a few minutes later, one of the librarians, who had apparently noticed the situation, came up to me and offered to move the lamp to where I was. Presumably, those two patrons didn’t actually need it; I suppose they were only attached to the seats.

I was really surprised and really grateful to her for doing that. She helped make my bad day a lot better, especially since using the lamp was the last thing I planned to do before I went home. She also would have had to approach those two patrons to ask if they were all right with her taking the lamp, which came with a risk of them getting mad at her. And she did that on her own initiative, without being asked at all.

I’ve always liked the librarians here, but this is really going to stand out for me.

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Dealt With That Customer With Real Polish

, , , , | Right | January 23, 2019

Customer: “I’m looking for silver polish.”

Me: “Absolutely, that will be in aisle eighty wit—”


Me: “Okay, well, I can show you where it is.”

(I proceed to aisle eighty and turn to go down the aisle.)


(I just continued down the aisle, picked up the silver polish, held it up, gave it a little shake, put it back on the shelf, and continued out the far end of the aisle.)

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