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Mischief By Proxy

, , , , , | Learning | August 5, 2021

I attended a private high school that issued laptops to all of its students and faculty. Of course, because we had near-constant Internet access, the school had a pretty hefty firewall put in place — amongst other measures — to ensure we were doing what we were supposed to during class. However, being a bunch of teens, many of us were also doing our best to circumvent this firewall, typically through proxies. Once one of these was found, it spread like a wildfire before administration caught on and blocked it and the cycle repeated.

I’m not sure how this is handled at other schools, but at mine, the last week before finals was solely dedicated to reviewing for them and to giving you an opportunity to ask your teachers questions about older material.

It’s this time my sophomore year and I’m in my algebra class browsing social media via one of those aforementioned Internet proxies — perhaps not the smartest decision looking back, but oh, well. Unbeknownst to me, my teacher — the very same one from this story — has snuck up behind me.

Teacher: “Is that Reddit?!”

I nearly jump out of my skin, especially since computer misuse is an automatic detention, and circumvention of the firewall can be a suspension if you get caught directly.

Me: “Um, yeah.”

Teacher: “How the h*** did you get around the firewall?! I swear, I’ve been trying to do that all year.”

Me: “Oh, uh, I use [Proxy].”

Teacher: “Thanks!”

He immediately scurried back to his desk. 

Since the first story I submitted about him, I’ve learned he didn’t even apply to the school to be a teacher; he applied to be in their IT department. Administration just stuck him in the position because he had a math degree. That fact explained a lot.

The Password Adds Up

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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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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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Her Alignment Is Chaotic Good

, , , | Learning | June 26, 2021

My mum is a science teacher. A chaotic one. Once, she suspected that some of her students had been smoking and she didn’t waste her time preaching about how unhealthy it was.

Mum: “You know that overpopulation is a huge problem these days, right? Keep smoking. Keep smoking and you’ll help to solve it.”

Another time, she was explaining the evolution theory.

Student: “Teach, I don’t really like the idea of descending from monkeys.”

Mum: “Well, every living being descends from a common ancestor. If it makes you feel better, you can think you descended from clams.”

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What’s Latin For “Whoops”?

, , , , , | Learning | June 22, 2021

I switched high schools midway through my first year and found that, unlike my old school, my new one taught Latin. As another student also joined the school at the same time as me, she and I were given separate lesson plans to the rest of the class to try and “catch us up.”

I was generally very polite and quiet at this point in my life, particularly toward authority figures, but my outward behaviour didn’t always reflect my internal monologue. 

One day, the teacher reprimanded the other later starter because her textbook was closed and she wasn’t even pretending to be working. I, however, was nearly finished with the assignment. For some reason, though, the teacher then brought me into it.

Teacher: “What about you, [My Name]? Are you Superman and able to read your book through its cover?”

Me: “Yes, of course, I am.”

A few moments later as the class erupted, I realised with growing horror that I had actually said the thing I was thinking.

Teacher: “Oh, that’s hilarious, [My Name], very funny. Do you know what else is funny? Saturday morning detention.”

I didn’t have a great home life and my parents had very strict ideas about respecting adults, so frankly, I was terrified about how I would explain this to them. I spoke to the teacher after the class, apologised profusely, and explained that my inner voice had gotten away from me and that I had actually finished the lesson so he caught me by surprise. He thanked me for apologising but explained that he had actually been joking, too. Looking back on it now, I’m not sure if he just saw how panicked I was and took pity on me.

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