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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Reputation Is Everything

, , , , | Learning | May 9, 2020

In middle school, I go on a school trip to New York. The school has us wear name tags on school lanyards. Since all the places we visit are popular with school groups, the lanyards let the employees know we should be with the group or at least a chaperone. If any of us slips away from the group, employees will quickly usher us back.

Some students have tried to hide or throw away their name tags to avoid this, so the head chaperone — a very strict nun — announces that anyone found without a lanyard or name tag will have to spend the remainder of the trip within six feet of her at all times and then have a month’s worth of detentions when we get back.

While we’re on a ferry, we’re allowed to wander around a bit, since we can’t go far on a boat. I’m leaning against the railing and fiddling idly with the name tag when I notice something white fluttering down to the water below. I don’t realize it’s my name tag until it’s way too far to reach.

I start to freak out internally. I’ve never gotten in trouble at school before or had even a single detention, and now I’m possibly facing a month’s worth of them! After debating what to do, I eventually decide to just tell the head chaperone what happened and hope for the best. There’s no way I could get away with not having a name tag because they’ll be checked as soon as we get off the ferry.

I go to the head chaperone and explain very nervously. Instead of yelling at me, she writes out a replacement name tag and hands it to me. I stand there staring at it in shock. She laughs and says, “Did you think you’d get detention? Don’t worry; that’s just for the bad kids. I know you’re a good kid.”

And that was the day I learned I could get away with anything, so long as I maintained my reputation as a “good kid.” The rest of middle school was fun.

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Realization In Horrific Harmony

, , , , , | Learning | February 6, 2020

(Our Boy Scout troop is visiting a museum. One of the boys is diagnosed with ADHD, but his parents don’t like him being on medication and regularly have him go without it. As a result, he can be a handful to deal with at times. At the end of the trip, we’re all in the gift shop when a friend and I notice the boy with ADHD grabbing a harmonica from one of the racks and walking with it over to the cash register. Realizing what will happen later, we both exchange horrified looks and immediately turn to one of the assistant scoutmasters who drove up in his own car.)

Me: “Say, is it okay if we ride back with you?”

Assistant Scoutmaster: *confused* “Umm… okay, I guess?”

(So, while the rest of the troop loads up in the van to head back, we get in the car with the assistant scoutmaster. Halfway back, we stop off at a gas station. My friend’s mother, who came along with for the trip and has been riding in the van, gets out with a very annoyed look on her face.)

Me: “Let me guess. [Boy With ADHD] was playing the harmonica the entire time?”

Friend’s Mother: *through clenched teeth* “Non… stop.”

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