You Can Knot Be Serious

, , , , | Learning | January 16, 2020

(This happens in eighth grade, so we are about fourteen. During class, we are doing a writing assignment when my friend asks me:)

Friend: “Wait, do you spell ‘neck’ with a K?”

Me: “Yeah.”

(I looked at her paper; she spelled it “kneck.”)

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Breaking Down Until You Snap

, , , , , | Learning | December 17, 2019

(I manage to break both my arms in a spectacularly clumsy moment. With both my arms in casts to above my elbows, I’m pretty helpless and there’s no way I can attend school, but I visit once a week to pick up my classwork so I won’t fall behind. I’m usually shy and fly under the radar, so at first, I enjoy the attention I get from my classmates, but the novelty wears thin pretty quickly. For me, at least. First week:)

Classmate #1: “You must be pretty happy to get to skip school, right?”

Me: *laughs* “Well, I like school, but I guess sleeping in is cool.”

(Second week:)

Classmate #1: *to friend* “Dude, she’s soooo lucky she gets to skip class.”

Classmate #2: “Dude, cool it.”

Me: “It’s not really all that fun. Seriously.”

(Third week:)

Classmate #1: “Wow, you must really be enjoying the vacation, right?”

Teacher: “I really doubt [My Name] considers having both her arms in casts a vacation. Now sit down.”

Me: *mostly under my breath* “THANK you.”

(Fourth week:)

Classmate #1: “Man, [My Name] is so lucky! I wish I could spend a month at home!”

Me: *completely done* “FINE! How about if you get to stay at home and I get to wipe my own a** for a change?!”

(Beat.)

Classmate #1: “Geez, what’s her problem?”

Classmate #2: *facepalms*

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Drowning In Butts

, , , , | Learning | December 15, 2019

(I’m taking a basic lifeguarding class at a public pool. This is the only pool in the area that offers these classes, so the other students and I don’t know each other very well because we come from different towns. It is a mixed-gender class, and I am a man. We’re learning how to use the life hook — a lifeguarding tool that you slide under a drowning person’s body and use to pull them to the edge of the pool. It’s my turn to practice with the life hook, and the “drowning” person is a woman. I successfully hook her and pull her to the edge of the pool, and then help her climb out. When she gets out of the pool, she immediately storms into the pool manager’s office. About ten minutes later, the pool manager comes out and asks to speak with me. I head into his office, and my “drowning” classmate is sitting there.)

Pool Manager: “Can you tell me what happened between you and [Classmate] earlier today?”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Pool Manager: “[Classmate] tells me that you touched her butt multiple times today while she was in the pool. Is that true?”

Me: “What? Of course, it’s not true.”

Classmate: “Don’t lie! You know you grabbed my butt!”

Me: “I don’t know how I could have done anything like that. I don’t think we’ve even been within ten feet of each other besides the life hook practice.”

Classmate: “Exactly! You grabbed my butt with the hook!”

Pool Manager: “Wait a minute; what’s this about a hook?”

Me: “That’s what we’re learning about today. We were practicing using the life hook. [Classmate] was the one I was supposed to be rescuing.”

Pool Manager: “Wait, wait, wait. [Classmate], do you mean that he touched your butt with the hook while you were playing the drowning person?”

Classmate: “YES!”

Pool Manager: “Did he successfully pull you to the edge of the pool so you could climb out?”

Classmate: “Well, yeah, I guess.”

Pool Manager: “[Classmate]… that’s how the life hook works. You hook it underneath a person’s body so you can pull them to the edge of the pool.”

Classmate: “Well, he didn’t have to grab my butt to do it.”

Pool Manager: “[My Name], you’re free to head back to the class. [Classmate], please wait here for a minute while I talk to your instructors.”

(The next day, guess who we found out had been removed from the lifeguarding class?)

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Bullied Into Bending The Truth

, , , , , , , , | Learning | December 10, 2019

(My brother is three years younger than me and started at my secondary school this year, aged eleven. He almost immediately starts getting bullied by a kid in his class, who happens to be the brother of a girl in my year. The bully is easily the smallest child in my brother’s class and is constantly angry, fighting constantly, and seems to be bullying several kids, not just my brother. I witnessed him come up behind his sister and demand money from her; then, he kicked her in the knees so she fell to the ground before kicking her again. He also made lots of nasty comments that made his sister cry. The school does nothing because the bully always starts fights when teachers aren’t looking and then claims self-defense, getting away with it because he’s smaller than them. I offer to help my brother constantly by letting him hang out with my friends or by going to stand near his class in breaks — I’m a school prefect/monitor so could intervene — but my brother has autism and is already struggling socially so he doesn’t want to be with my friends or for me to be near his. Until one day…)

Brother: *crying and running over* “Help! Help! Please help!”

Me: “Is it [Bully]?”

Brother: “Yeah, he got me and now another boy, too.”

Me: “Okay, stay here.” *to my friends* “Look after him, please!”

(I run down to the area where the younger kids have break and see [Bully] immediately. He’s sat on another kid’s neck with his knees on either side of his throat and is just landing punches on his face. As I run closer, I can see the boy underneath is going purple and is pulling at [Bully]’s knees, obviously unable to breathe.)

Me: *still running over* “Hey! Get off him!”

([Bully] doesn’t respond and as I get close, the boy underneath goes limp, still being punched. I grab the scruff of [Bully]’s collar, intending to pull him off the other child and to his feet. I’m only 5’3” and female but I still tower over this tiny child and my panicked grab of his collar results in more than the intended force. Instead of pulling him to his feet, I throw him back where he crashes into a pillar and crumples. I freeze, horrified that now I may have hurt someone; I’m a nerdy girl who’s never been in trouble before. A teacher who knows me and the other prefects well comes running over.)

Teacher: *running over* “[My Name], just go! Run! I’ve got it.”

(I ran for it, leaving the teacher to deal with both boys. The boy who was attacked had to go to the hospital for treatment for a broken nose, broken tooth, and difficulty breathing and swallowing. The teacher knew about the bully and the school’s rule of needing a member of staff to witness and bent the truth a bit. She told them that she’d witnessed the attack on both my brother and the other boy but denied that I’d been there, saying that no one had hurt [Bully] and he’d been making it up to claim self-defense. He ended up getting a long period of isolated education, working one on one in a classroom and taking breaks by himself. It’s not totally moral for the teacher to have lied, but given [Bully]’s year of attacking people every day, it felt justified!)

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Next Time Make Sure You’re Holding All The Cards

, , , , , , | Learning | December 2, 2019

(In college, my public speaking professor hands out an assignment that is to be done in pairs, due in one week. Each pair picks another country and gives a five-minute speech about their history, politics, population, economy, etc. She selects the pairs, my partner being a girl I don’t know. We swap contact info and, before I can ask when she wants to get together, she leaves. Our class meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This is Wednesday. I wait a few hours before calling her, thinking maybe she has another class. She doesn’t answer. On Thursday, I send her a text but she still doesn’t reply. On Friday, we have class again. The professor gives us the second half of the class to work on the project. The entire time, my partner is on her phone, barely acknowledging me.)

Me: “Do you want to cover political history or agriculture?”

Partner: “Uh-huh.”

Me: “You… want both?”

Partner: “Whatever.”

Me: “Okay. You can cover agriculture since that seems… uh…” *searching for a word other than “easier”*

Partner: “Okay.”

(I go to my professor at the end of class.)

Me: “[Professor], I’m not sure about doing this project with [partner].”

Professor: “Are you not getting along?”

Me: “I just don’t think she’s invested.”

Professor: “Are you?”

Me: “Well…” *shows her my work so far* “I have the basic outline done and I searched the library’s system so I know which books to check out when I go back.”

Professor: “So, what’s the problem?”

Me: “I tried to get in contact with [Partner] and she never replied. Just now I was trying to divide the topics and she was on [social media], not even listening to me.”

Professor: *shrug* “You’re adults now. You’ll have to work it out on your own.”

(I spend the weekend trying to contact my partner while doing research, diving into my own topics while picking up tidbits of her topics along the way. I am adamant that I am not going to do to the whole project, but I don’t want to get a bad grade. Monday comes and my partner isn’t even in class. I send one more text, saying I am going to be at the library Tuesday afternoon — the day before our project is due — starting around five pm, asking her to join me. She still doesn’t reply. By Wednesday morning, I have the entire project done, timed, and organized so that we can go back and forth on our topics. I write our facts on note cards, highlighting the topic line based on whether it is mine or hers — pink for mine, yellow for hers — and put a note at the top of each note card showing what the colors represent. I always try to arrive at least five minutes before class so I can get settled. My partner arrives five minutes late, during another presentation. She makes no mention of why she hasn’t helped, nor has she done any work for herself. I am upset but still give her the rundown on the project, showing her the highlighting and how I broke everything down. For simplicity, let’s say she has topics A, C, E and the conclusion while I have the introduction and topics B, D, and F. We divide the notecards and wait our turn. I should note that I hate public speaking or being the focus of a conversation, so I’m already on edge.)

Professor: “[My Name], [Partner], are you ready?”

Partner: “Yes!” *grabs all the notecards* “Oh.” *laughs* “I guess you need some of these.” *hands back the first notecard with the introduction*

Me: *unsure of why she’s suddenly so enthusiastic* “Yeah…”

(We take our place at the front of the class.)

Me: “[Country] is a land rich with a diverse history, unique cultures and…” *reads the rest of the introduction*

Partner: *reads topic A in a monotone voice*

Me: *reaches over to take the Topic B card*

Partner: *harsh whisper* “I’m not done!”

Me: “What?”

Partner: *reads topic B*

Me: “Uh…”

Partner: *continues*

Me: *whispering* “That’s my part–” *reaches for the card again*

Professor: “Ladies, is there a problem?”

Partner: “No.” *continues reading in a monotonous voice, turning away from me*

Me: “That’s my part!”

Partner: “Shh!”

Professor: “[My Name].”

Me: *bright red and very anxious* “I… I…”

Partner: “[My Name]! Stop! [Professor], can I please just do this? [My Name] is messing me up.”

Me: “She’s reading my part!” *realizes how childish I sound* “We had assigned parts and–”

Professor: “[My Name], please be quiet.”

Me: “But–”

Professor: “OUT!”

Me: “But–”

Professor: “NOW! I’ll deal with you at the end of class. Go sit in the hall.”

(My face and ears are so red I can feel my pulse, but I leave the room without another word. I sit in the hallway, angry and crying, while my “partner” reads the entire presentation. At the end of the class, my partner comes out, looks at me sitting along the wall, smiles at me, and leaves. The professor calls me back into the room.)

Professor: “What was that?”

(I explain the division of topics, color coding, and how I did the work and my partner did nothing.)

Professor: “Do you have proof?”

Me: “There are the notecards.” *opens my bag and begins looking for them*

Professor: “Okay.” *holds out her hand*

Me: *realizing my partner took the notecards* “But [Partner] must have them.”

Professor: “So, you have nothing?”

Me: “But I came to you earlier about her and I… I have parts of it memorized. I can tell you which topics I was supposed to read.”

Professor: “I’m sorry, [My Name]. If you have no way to prove you did this work, I have no choice but to give you a zero.”

Me: “She stole my parts! She didn’t do anything but read! I did all the work!” 

(My eyes burn with new tears.)

Professor: *sigh* “Okay. I’ll give you until the next class to prove it. Otherwise, the zero stands.”

(I called and texted my partner constantly over the next two days, adamant that she admit she did nothing, or at the very least that she had taken over my topics. Still, she didn’t answer. I showed the professor that I had been trying to contact my partner but she just wasn’t answering. With no proof of my work and no word from my partner — who was absent from class again — the professor kept the zero and dropped my grade substantially. Public speaking was a requirement for my diploma, so I had to take the class again the next semester with the same professor. When that project came around again, I spitefully picked the same country. The professor initially refused, saying I’d already done that project. I reminded her that she gave me a zero because I couldn’t prove I had done anything. This time around, I got an A, an apology from the professor, and a lesson in showing your work.)

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