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No Brains, No Brawn

, , , , , , | Learning | November 25, 2022

I was volunteering for a middle school robotics competition. After it had finished, some of us stuck around to help them pack up everything, including lugging the heavy tables the robots competed on to storage. One of my fellow judges showed up to help.

Judge: “I heard you needed some dumb muscle, so here I am.”

Me: “Thanks. I’d appreciate it.”

Judge: “Just to warn you, I don’t have that much actual muscle, but I’m extra dumb, so it evens out.”

Not Seizing The Opportunity To Be Compassionate

, , , , , , | Learning | September 10, 2022

My middle school gym teacher was terrible. Once a year, the students would be forced to the track to run a mile for the fitness gram or something like that. According to [Gym Teacher], there were no exceptions. Every student had to run the mile in the 100°F Texas heat. This was a problem. I have severe epilepsy that is triggered by heat and bright flashing lights. I had years worth of doctors’ notes to get out of PE to prove it.

I was the last one on the track and [Gym Teacher] was constantly screaming at me to run. He threatened to up it to two miles if I didn’t finish soon.

By the end of lap two, I was very close to having a seizure. I started seeing spots, I got really dizzy, everything was going fuzzy — the works. Every time I passed by [Gym Teacher], I would practically beg him to let me stop so I could go to the nurse because this was when my seizures still had a chance of killing me. I’m not ashamed to say that I actually started crying. He refused to let me stop. He just yelled over me and ignored me saying I was epileptic, which he knew. He forced me to finish the mile barely coherent.

Once I finished and somehow managed to make it without having a seizure, the other gym teacher, who had just come outside with her class, saw me. Apparently, I didn’t look too good because I’ve rarely seen the blood drain from someone’s face so quickly. That teacher practically carried me to the nurse.

I ended up using my emergency meds and going home for the day. My mother was not happy with that teacher.

[Gym Teacher] still works there to this day.

A Frustrating Lesson To Chew On

, , , , , | Learning | July 1, 2022

I went to a VERY small middle school that contained only sixth and seventh grade, and there were only five classes in each. I had the highest grades in my sixth-grade classroom, and I never got in trouble. When I say never, I mean NOT ONCE. It’s important to know that our school year is divided into blocks of six six-week sections, and we are at the beginning of the last six weeks.

Because we were such a small school, we only had PE two or three times a week as our teacher had to cater to all ten classes. On the day in question, I was chewing gum because one of the more popular students handed it out. My English teacher stopped me before we went to PE.

English Teacher: “[My Name], are you chewing gum?”

At this point, I was petrified of what she would say. I had seen her go nuclear over small things, and besides that, our math teacher, who we had just left, let us chew gum. I just forgot to spit mine out. I stopped chewing and cheeked it.

Me: “Uh… no, ma’am?”

About halfway through PE, the gym teacher saw me chewing gum while playing four square and told me to spit it out. I didn’t think anything of it until about five minutes after we went back in.

English Teacher: “[My Name], come here! [PE Teacher] told me that she had to tell you to spit out your gum. Not only did you break school rules by chewing gum outside during PE, but you lied directly to my face, so sincerely! You know what this means, right?”

Oh, yes, I knew. This meant I’d have silent lunch that day. For those not familiar, silent lunch is where you are sent to a table to eat alone, and in our school, you faced the wall and were not allowed to get up until everyone else has left. After that, you helped clean all of the tables.

Me: “Silent lunch today?”

English Teacher: “No, ma’am, [My Name]. You will have silent lunch all week, and I’m calling your mom.”

I should mention at this point that this was during the late 1990s when many clothing factories in the south were slowly closing. My single mom worked in one and received no child support. Our home phone had been cut off for a week now.

Me: “You can’t call my mom, ma’am.”

English Teacher: “What do you mean, I ‘can’t’? I’ll call her and there’s nothing you can do about it!”

Me: “Ma’am, we don’t have a phone.”

English Teacher: “Everyone has a phone, [My Name].”

Me: “Ma’am, we don’t now. It got cut off last week.”

Mind you, we were in a small classroom and my classmates could hear this. Bullying was a huge issue there, and my classmates already teased me as it was. I was ashamed as it was, and she just made it worse.

English Teacher: “I’ll write her a note and she can find a way to contact me tomorrow, or you’ll have silent lunch until June!”

She wrote a note, which my mom read and signed, and she hastily wrote a response that she could not make long-distance calls at work — she worked in North Carolina — and that me lying about gum was really not that horrible. My teacher called my mom at work, but predictably, they let her know my mom was not able to take phone calls unless it was an emergency.

Fast forward to the end of the six weeks. We had a “Good Conduct Party.” This was for students who did not get in trouble during the six weeks. I had always been able to attend, so I got in line for it. As I was standing there, my teacher walked up to me.

English Teacher: “Oh, no, ma’am, [My Name]! After what you did? You lied to me about that gum and not having a phone. You’re going to the Bad Conduct Party.”

This was literally a classroom where any students who had an N or U in conduct were sent to work on things that were not graded for two hours until the Good Conduct Party was over. The teachers always called it this to remind us it was not fun.

So, in summary, I panicked about chewing gum, was ratted out by the PE teacher, and was punished for not having a phone!

Don’t Worry, Kid; It’ll Hit You One Day

, , , , , , | Learning | June 27, 2022

I was a fairly unpopular fifth-grader — good academically, bad socially. I somehow got the idea that I could solve my popularity problem with advice from books.

This was pre-Internet, so my book selection was not only limited but difficult to search for. I felt embarrassed looking for books about how to make friends, so my only hope was to find a book at the school library during our weekly visit, check it out, and read it in secret. I searched and searched, and the closest resource I could find was a book called “Male Manners.” I don’t know what I was thinking.

Sure enough, the book turned out to be irrelevant. I don’t remember most of what I read, only that if I was ever eating at a place where I’d finished my meal but wished to keep enjoying a rich sauce, I should gently drop bits of bread into the sauce, then eat them with my fork — not exactly the kind of advice I was looking for.

The next week, when it was time to return the book to the library, I didn’t want anyone to see me with it, so I tried to quickly slide it across the counter of the Returns desk on my way in and then hustle off into the library.

Unfortunately, in my haste to get away from the book, I slid it a little too vigorously, and it slid off the other end of the counter and hit the librarian.

Librarian: “HEY!”

Me: “Oh… uh, sorry.”

Librarian: “Do we throw books?”

Me: “No, sorry, I wasn’t throwing it, I just pushed it too hard… but sorry.”

The librarian looked at the book cover.

Librarian: *Extremely loud* “And it’s a book about manners!”

She showed it to the other librarian.

Librarian: *Still extremely loud* “Look at this! It’s a book about manners! He threw it at me, and it’s a book about manners!”

I wanted to crawl under a desk. Fifth grade is awful.

The Education System Functioning As Normal. Sigh.

, , , | Learning | June 8, 2022

My teacher is giving a presentation about menstruation in biology class.

Teacher: “Hey, guys, fun fact: I didn’t know anything about this until a week ago.”

At the beginning of the year, he also told us he was actually a chemistry teacher but they had put him there because there weren’t other openings.