Cheesy But Effective

, , , , | Learning | December 5, 2020

We have a school trip to a campground when I am about ten years old. The girls are in two big tents, boys in two big tents, and there are two teachers and two teachers’ assistants in their own tents.

On the first night, we are being typical kids in tents with torches, playing games, trying to scare each other, and calling to the other tents, and the TAs and teachers come in a few times to tell us to go to sleep.

Around midnight, one of the TAs comes in with a box.

TA: “Do you want a midnight feast? Don’t let the others know! Be quiet!”

Us: *Whispering* “Yes!”

TA: “Here, but turn your torches off and be really quiet.”

She handed over a box of cheese sandwiches and, reminding us again to be really quiet, crept out. We all sat there munching our sandwiches and talking in whispers, and when we were done we all pretty much fell asleep straight away. She did this every night of the three-day trip, and we thought we were being SO sneaky!

A few years later, I was chatting with my mum and we were talking about the trip. She was friends with the TA. It turns out that the TA had gone into every tent with a box of sandwiches and the exact same story, and every tent thought they were getting a special treat! Cheese sandwiches were a stroke of genius, stodgy and filling, and after eating a few while sitting quietly we were practically guaranteed to start feeling sleepy.

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Field Trips Are Great Opportunities For Learning!

, , , , , | Learning | December 4, 2020

The high school sports team I coach has a competition on the other side of the state, so we stay in a few rooms of a hotel the night before. Around ten at night, a few of the girls knock on my door.

Girls: “We heard some weird noises. We’re scared.”

Me: “I’ll check it out.”

We go to their hotel room, and they point me in the direction of the bathroom. Sure enough, I hear a noise through the wall, but being an adult, I know what it is, and try to figure out how to tell the very naïve girls. Most students at this school are pretty sheltered, and these girls are no exception. I decide to keep it somewhat vague.

Me: “Um, it’s nothing to be scared of. It would seem that some people find this hotel… romantic.”

Girls: *Giggling* “You mean, like, a couple’s on their honeymoon or something? Ew!”

I shrugged non-committedly and kept to myself that I only heard one person, and assuming the neighboring room’s layout was the same, the noise was coming from the direction of the bathroom.

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Who Doesn’t Love A Good Book Burning?

, , , , , | Learning | September 7, 2020

I am behind the tills at a bookstore. A few schoolchildren from a high school come in and look around dizzily. I realise they’re with a teacher and have come from a trip.

Me: “Welcome to [Bookstore]; can I help you?”

Girl #1: “Yeah, where is Fifty Shades of Grey?”

Teacher: “[Girl #1]! You are not old enough for that!”

Me: “It’s okay.” *To the girl* “I’m sorry, but you have to be over eighteen to buy it.”

They leave. Then, [Girl #2] and [Girl #3] come up.

Girl #3: “Has the Hunger Games number two, like, got any sex in it?”

Me: *Bewildered* “No.”

Girl #3: “Can we have it, then?”

Girl #2: “I thought all books had sex in them now. Why are we buying it?”

[Girl #3] shushes her as they take the book from a pile on the side, pay for it, and go.

They giggle as they go. A few minutes later, the fire alarm goes off. After the children and the other customers and employees are evacuated, and a small fire is put out by firemen, one finds that a book in the garbage bin started it. It was coated in nail polish, shoved in with newspapers, and set alight. I recognise it as the book the girls brought.

Me: “Those girls set it on fire!”

Teacher: *To the girls* “IS THIS TRUE?”

Girl #3: “Well, it was a dumb book! And there’s no sex in it!”

Fireman: “What?!”

Girl #3: “And anyway, it’s a stupid book. Who cares? Everyone who actually isn’t a dork uses Kindle!”

Fireman: “Even if that is true, young lady, you began a fire in a public area, with people inside! You are so lucky the fire didn’t get more serious. You’re under grounds for prosecution!”

The girls are sent away in a police car. The next day, one of the other students from the school comes in. I prepare myself for more trouble, but she asks…

Girl #4: “Can I get a copy of TimeRiders?”

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Tourists, I Swear…

, , , , | Learning | August 25, 2020

It’s 2006 I’m fifteen and on a big school trip through Europe to practice our newly-learned German and see some of the countries where German is spoken. For whatever reason, the trip plan includes a few hours of free time and an overnight stay in Strasbourg, which might be right near the German border, but is still in France.

My classmates and I have had a long day, with a start in Cologne and a stop in Heidelberg. Because of this, and because we’re fifteen and hungry most of the time, we split into groups and start looking for street food or grocery shops. It is important to note that we’re all Bulgarian and we all speak at least one other language.

A few of my classmates are trying to find a popular burger chain restaurant; again, we’re 15 and it doesn’t occur to them to just find local food. They stop a man to ask him for directions, since smartphones are not a thing yet and nobody has a map. They first ask him in German, as we all have spoken primarily in the German on the trip. The man shakes his head and tries to go on his way.

Here is where my classmates might be jerks. They don’t let him go and ask the same question in English. The man, again, doesn’t understand. One of the group speaks Spanish and tries this language; again, no luck, and unfortunately, nobody can speak French.

One of the group is frustrated and hangry at this point and just swears under his nose in Bulgarian that they just want to go to the [string of expletives] chain burger restaurant. However, the man overhears, turns around, indicates the right direction with his hand, and goes on his way. My classmates find their burger place.

Was the man another Bulgarian or simply someone who understood that language enough? We’ll never know. But I occasionally snicker to think how multiple foreign languages didn’t help my classmates, but swearing in their own language did.

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A Lucrative Field Trip

, , , , , , | Learning | May 27, 2020

When I am in high school, I get to go to France on a student ambassador program. One of the rules of this program is that, even though there might be multiple people to a room, everyone needs to have their own bed. Our first night there, we get our room assignments, and my two roommates and I head up to our room.

We get into the room and immediately find two of the beds: a regular queen in the bedroom and a sunseat-esque thing near one of the windows. My roommates snag the two visible beds and then we start searching the room for the other bed. We look in the closets in case it’s a murphy bed situation, tap the walls, again in case of a Murphy bed situation, and just look everywhere we can think of.

We have to call down to the front desk to get sheets for the second bed, so when the employee comes up with those, we ask him to show us where the third bed is because we are clearly dumb Americans.

He looks at me and [Roommate #2] and says, “There are only two of you.” We tell him that the other girl is in the bathroom. He looks at us like he doesn’t fully believe us — why in the heck would we lie about that?! — but tells us it is under the queen.

After he leaves, we go back and look at the queen bed; we initially dismissed it for having anything underneath because there wasn’t a ton of clearance. But I get down on my stomach and crawl around on the floor, tapping on the base, and there’s no bed; it’s definitely a solid base.

By this time, our leaders are doing room checks. They get to our room and I explain that I have no bed. One of the leaders goes down to see if there’s possibly a single room available while the other one comes and does a second glance over the room just to see if we have missed something. We haven’t, and the first leader comes back and lets us know that the hotel is full. 

It’s decided that I’ll room with one of the leaders for the night, so I get my stuff together and move up to her room. She tells me to shower if I want and then I get the sunseat bed. I get cleaned up and I’m all snuggled up in my bed, writing in this journal that the program requires us to keep — we get school credit for this trip — when one of the other leaders comes back and lets us know that they’ve found a bed.

So, I get all my stuff together and move again. Why they couldn’t let me sleep and then just move me in the morning, I’ll never know. This time, I’m in a room with my own bed and things are good and I get to go to sleep.

Before we leave, we have a picnic. There is a donation basket. Once stuff from the picnic has been covered, the leaders convert the leftover money to Franc and Euros give it out to those of us that have done something kind of above and beyond. So, because I moved around and was a good sport about all of it, I get a little extra money.

A few days later, I call home and talk with my mom about things, and I tell her what happened with the money. I find out after I get home that she almost gave my dad a heart attack telling him about it. Here’s what happened:

My mom tells my dad, “[My Name] found a way to make some extra money while on vacation.”

“Oh?”

“Yep! She’s sleeping around!”

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