Feeling A Little Spacey

, , , , , , | Learning | December 8, 2020

It’s 2002, and I’m the treasurer of my eleventh-grade class. One day, the other officers — president, vice president, and secretary — and I are getting some letters ready to mail to the parents of our fellow students. One of the other officers starts laughing.

Officer #1: “Look at this name! It’s so funny!”

She shows us an envelope with “Buzz” on it as the first name of someone’s dad. The other two officers join in the laughter.

Me: “It’s unusual, but it’s the name of an astronaut.”

Officer #2: “Really?”

Officer #3: “Oh, right; Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story.”

Me: “No, Buzz Aldrin.”

They stare blankly.

Me: “Apollo 11?”

They continue to stare blankly.

Me: “The second man on the moon, after Neil Armstrong? I know we all learned about it in history; we were in the same class.”

Officers: *Unconvincingly* “Oh, right, right. Him. Yes, I remember.”

I don’t think they actually remembered.

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Puerto Rico And Mexico Are Different Places?!

, , , , , , | Learning | November 14, 2020

I’m in high school. It’s mid-October. I’m in Spanish class, and my teacher is talking about holidays. I’m Puerto Rican and my teacher is Mexican. By a quirk of the schedule, I’m the only student with any kind of Spanish/Latina heritage in the class. My teacher knows this.

Teacher: “…and Dia de Los Muertos. Anyone heard of it?”

We all look at each other and shrug. No one has heard of this holiday.

Teacher: “Okay, we’ll start at the beginning. Señorita [My Name]. What is Dia de Los Muertos?”

Me: “Um… it literally translates to Day of the Dead.”

Teacher: “Good. Now, tell us about it.”

Me: “But I don’t know what it is.” 

Teacher: “Very funny. What does this holiday celebrate?”

Me: “I really don’t know.”

She stares at me expectantly. I shrug.

Teacher: “You’re Mexican and you don’t know?”

Me: “Señora, I’m Puerto Rican. I’ve never heard of this holiday in my life.”

Teacher: “Catholics in Puerto Rico don’t celebrate Dia de Los Muertos?”

Me: “I’m a Protestant, Señora.”

Teacher: “Oh.”

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No Spoonful Of Customer Service Will Help The Artificial Sugar Go Down

, , , , , | Right | November 7, 2020

My friend and I work the concession stand for the basketball games at our high school. My dad works at the school so I am trusted to do money and put it in the principal’s office at the end of the night. We also get honors society credit for it.

We are almost out of food and only have diet drinks left because we are on the third game of the night.

Customer: “I’ll take a Coke.”

Friend: “We only have Pepsi products and right now all we have is diet.”

Customer: “This is ridiculous. I just wanted a f****** Coke. Fine, I’ll take a Diet Pepsi.”

My friend gives him his drink and a few minutes later, he comes back.

Customer: “Excuse me, my drink is flat and it doesn’t even taste like Pepsi!”

Me: “I’m sorry. I don’t really know what to tell you, it was a fresh drink, but it’s diet so it’s going to taste different. Do you want to buy another drink?”

Customer: “I want you to replace this one!”

Me: “We aren’t allowed to do that, especially since you already drank over half of it.”

Customer: “I can’t f****** believe you f****** people. This is why you don’t let little privileged girls work things like this. I want to talk to the manager!”

Me: “This is a high school concession stand, not a restaurant.”

Customer: “Don’t f****** talk back to me, you f***!”

The resource officer ended up asking him to leave.

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Are You OK, Boomer?

, , , , , , | Learning | November 3, 2020

In the late 1970s, I am a junior taking chemistry in high school. This is basic chemistry, essentially giving students the opportunity to get familiar with the methods and procedures they’ll need to use when taking chemistry in college. Because the school is located in a small town, it is on the small side, as well. This means that chemistry, biology, and other science classes share the same modest lab space.

We are using Bunsen burners to heat up small coils of magnesium which are placed in the bottom of little ceramic crucibles. The experiment is supposed to be demonstrating how heating the coiled metal will change the metal’s shape as it expands. Really basic stuff.

Before we get started, my lab partner and I notice some sort of off-white gunk baked into the bottom of the crucible. The gunk won’t rinse out, so I ask the teacher for a new crucible. The teacher takes a look at it and tells us to just use the crucible as-is.

Teacher: “It’s not going to affect the experiment.”

Me: “Are you sure? We don’t even know what this stuff is.”

Teacher: “I’m sure. Get started. You guys are way behind everyone else.”

So, we drop the coiled strip of magnesium into the bottom of the crucible and place it in the stand over the burner. We light it up and take turns observing the metal as it heats. We both speculate about the nature of the baked-on gunk while we wait for the coil to start changing shape from the heat.

I have just slid safety goggles over my eyes and leaned forward to look into the crucible when there is a loud BANG, followed by a streak of red flying past my ear and bits of shattered crucible flying all over the lab bench, floor, and me. My lab partner shuts off the burner while I make sure I’m not hurt, and then we turn to see what flew past me.

The chemistry teacher is about six feet away, using tongs to pick up something which seems to be melting its way through one of the plastic mats on the floor by another lab bench. There is quite a bit of smoke which reeks of burning plastic, and other students are scrambling to open windows to get rid of the stench.

The teacher drops the burning magnesium into a bucket full of sand kept handy for just that purpose and then comes over to make sure my lab partner and I are okay. Neither of us are hurt, fortunately, although we are both scared and excited the way people get when the danger has passed. The teacher is pretty pale, too.

He checks the lab record book and figures out that the gunk left in the crucible was a chemical leftover from a Chemistry 2 class the previous month.

Teacher: “Okay! Let’s never do that again. What just happened is called a ‘violent exothermic reaction.’ This was not what we were supposed to be learning about today, but everyone now has a better understanding of why lab safety is so important. It also emphasizes the importance of cleaning your lab equipment after each use. Any questions?”

I raise my hand.

Teacher: “Yes, [My Name]?”

Me: “Didn’t you say it wouldn’t affect the experiment?”

Teacher: *Looking pained* “That’s another important lesson: be careful of your assumptions. I assumed no one would have been stupid enough to leave a crucible coated with a known catalyst in the lab supply cage.”

My lab partner and I weren’t penalized for not completing the experiment, and the chemistry teacher called me “Boomer” for the rest of my time at school.

I did not sign up for Chemistry 2 class in my senior year.

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It Can All Change In Five Minutes

, , , , , | Learning | CREDIT: georgilm | October 30, 2020

I have severe major depression and a sister who is not good at getting organised/ready to leave on time.

We have a teacher at my school who I’ve always despised. He has an unspoken rule that he will lock students out of the class for five-ten minutes further when they are late.

I am five minutes late to his class (first period – 8:45 am) due to my sister throwing a tantrum. I knock on the door, and:

Teacher: “Was the bus late?”

Apparently, this is his only valid excuse for running late to class.

Me: “No, but…”

Teacher: “You can’t come in.”

He shuts the door in my face.

After bursting into tears, I decided that his unspoken rule of being left outside the classroom for five minutes when one attended late never actually stated one was required to wait outside the door to enter the room when he deigned to let the student in. 

So I wander off to the library to find something interesting to read.

Apparently, after he opened the door and found me missing, the school had to call my parents and explain they’d misplaced me and why. I was eventually ‘found’ and the teacher had the nerve to ask – in front of my parents and the principal:

Teacher: “Why didn’t you tell me the reason you were late?”

Me: “Because you didn’t let me say so.”

Teacher: “Why didn’t you wait outside the door?”

Me: “Because you didn’t say so, and I wasn’t going to waste valuable learning time that my parents pay for standing and staring at a door.”

My parents ripped them a new one, and the teacher didn’t lock anyone out of his classroom for at least the next seven years (so my younger brother tells me). 

It gave me great pleasure to get one up on such a hard-headed, infuriating teacher.

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