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We’ll Pay You To Shut Up, But Only For Charity

, , , , , | Learning | August 12, 2021

We have been fundraising for charity. Many students take on a sponsored activity and get people to pay them. Some run and get paid per mile; others bake and sell cakes. [Student], the class voice box, decides to do a sponsored silence.

Everyone is surprised; [Student] cannot keep quiet even when saying nothing at all. But all day, she says nothing at all, not even on break.

The next day, everyone is talking about donations and collections. [Student] pipes up.

Student: “I raised £53!”

Me: “That’s really good.”

Student: “Yeah, I got my whole family to sponsor me, as well as people from school.”

Friend: “Well done.”

Student: “Yeah, I don’t know what I will spend the money on.”

Me: “You don’t get to keep the money. You realise that? It’s for charity.”

Student: “No! I did the sponsored silence; I raised the money.”

Friend: “Yeah, I don’t think you know what you’re talking about, [My Name].”

Me: “You guys know this is for charity, right? The whole day is for charity.”

Student: *Sarcastically* “Yeah, sure. Don’t forget you both owe me money for yesterday.”

I blew her off. I’m not paying when she was supposed to be donating it. Apparently, many others didn’t, either. [Student]’s mum ended up coming to the school to complain only to be told that she needed to give the money to the school. I don’t think that money ever made it to the charity.

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.

Be Careful Who You Step On When You Stamp Out Racism

, , , , , , , | Learning | July 15, 2021

We’re on the train to school camp. I’m playing chess with [Classmate #1]. Meanwhile, [Classmate #2] is chatting with the homeroom teacher of another class.

Classmate #2: *Loudly* “And [Classmate #1] never does his homework.”

Classmate #1: “Huh?!”

Me: “Pot calling the kettle black!”

Classmate #2: “Ah-ha! Everyone, [My Name] is being racist! He called [Classmate #1] black!”

Me: “Oh, s***.”

I forgot that [Classmate #1] is African-American.

Me: “No! I didn’t mean it that way!”

Classmate #1: “Yeah, I know. No offence taken.”

He turns to face [Classmate #2].

Classmate #1: “What do you mean, I never hand in homework, you hypocrite? You’re the one that hands in the least amount of homework in class!”

The argument continues on for a while, but eventually, our own homeroom teacher shuts us all up. She comes up to me afterward.

Teacher: “And what’s this about you being racist?”

Me: “Nothing. It was just a badly-used phrase.”

She frowns a bit and then looks at the chessboard.

Teacher: “When we get back, I want you writing lines about not being racist.”

Me: “Why?! I’m not racist!”

Teacher: “Uh-huh.” *Picks up my queen* “Then why are you making the African-American boy play black?”

Classmate #1: “Hey, I prefer black in chess. I like going second. I chose it.”

Teacher: “Don’t worry. You don’t need to defend him. I’ll sort [My Name] out when we get back to school.”

Me: *Sighs* “I can see that I’m not winning this argument. But I insist that you talk to my father about this.”

Teacher: “Oh, I will. He needs to know that racism is intolerable and that such behaviour will not be tolerated in this school.”

She then flips around the chessboard, such that [Classmate #1] now has white.

Teacher: “And if I see you being racist to anyone ever again, I swear to God that I will find a way to drum your a** out of school faster than you can say ‘goodbye’.”

She smugly trotted off. [Classmate #1] and I sighed and continued playing.

The look on her face when she saw my father a few weeks later was priceless. I looked absurdly like my white mother, so nobody realised that my father was an African-American. Naturally, he disbelieved every single accusation of me being racist and basically ordered [Teacher] to let me off the hook.

She did that, but she always gave me the stink-eye in every homeroom. I was really glad to leave her behind when I graduated.

Quid Stultus

, , , , , | Learning | July 10, 2021

I’m new to this school. I’m Latina. I’m talking to a girl when she says this gem.

Girl: “Say something in Latin!”

Me: “Er… what?”

Girl: “You know, Latin! Your language!”

Me: “Um, I don’t know any Latin.”

Girl: “But you’re Latina!”

Girl’s Friend: “[Girl], she speaks Spanish, not Latin. Latin was the language of ancient Rome.”

The girl just looked confused.

Here’s Hoping That Train Of Thought Gets Derailed

, , , , , , | Learning | June 17, 2021

I’ve just moved to a new school. Neither of my parents is able to consistently pick me up after school, so I’m given money for a train ride. After school, I walk up to the train station, sit on the bench, and wait for my train to arrive.

This is my second time riding the train, so I’m a little bit nervous. Cue [Classmate]. This guy comes up and sits next to me. There aren’t a lot of benches, so I think nothing of it and continue to draw in my notebook.

Classmate: “So, you go to [School]?”

Me: “Oh, yeah, you?”

Classmate: “Same, it’s my first year.”

I’m feeling pretty good, and we start chatting about school stuff. I’ll admit, I think he is pretty hot at first. After a bit, he starts talking about all his previous girlfriends, the one that got away, the one from another country that still loves him even though she had to move away, etc. He goes on for a bit, and I am thoroughly uninterested in this topic.

Me: “Yeah, I don’t really relate. I’m gay, so…”

Classmate: *Chuckles* “Yeah…”

He then continues with his line of thought. Being the young little innocent queer that I am, don’t know a lot about South Africa’s very homophobic opinions despite how our constitution says it, so I shrug it off and continue to mildly chat with this guy from time to time.

A bit into the year, I’m walking to the train station, and a bit up ahead I see [Friend] and [Classmate]. [Friend] and I were friends before coming to this school and she admitted to me after I came out that she’d had a bit of a crush on me, but this didn’t affect our friendship. I rush over to them and we start a conversation. After a while, [Friend] asks me:

Friend: “So, did you end up asking that guy out?”

Me: “Yeah, I did, but he said no because he’s straight.”

[Classmate] does a dramatic turnaround. I can hear the reality show stinger as he opens his mouth.

Classmate: “Wait, you’re gay?!”

Me: “Yeah… I said so when we first met.”

Classmate: “I thought you were joking!”

Alarm bells in my head that young queer baby me has never heard and doesn’t understand are going off, and the gods decide that this divine comedy is not yet over. Next, my dear [Friend] leaves because she takes a bus and her stop is just on the way to the station.

I’m trapped. I’m sitting on the bench, my drawing book firmly in my bag so I can leave quickly. I still don’t know why I’m feeling such dread when [Classmate] speaks.

Classmate: “So, like, when did you decide to be gay?”

My school is very liberal, so I have not yet had to deal with ignorance like this, so it takes me a second.

Me: “I didn’t. I was born this way.”

Classmate: “Ah, I see… Are you a virgin?”

Oh, so that’s what my gay spidey sense is for.

Me: “Dude, you can’t ask someone that. How would you feel if I asked you that?”

Classmate: “Nah, dude, it’s not the same.”

Me: “Yes, it is. It carries the same emotional weight and the STDs. Pregnancy isn’t what makes sex special.”

[Classmate] brushes it off and continues to ask me some more personal questions.

My prayers answered, the train arrives and [Classmate] drops this dazzling gem.

Classmate: “By the way, don’t have gay sex. One of my friends from my old school died of gay sex.”

I’m just all for getting away from this guy now, and I hurriedly go to my usual cart. He tries to get me to sit in a different cart with him, which I refuse. Yeah… not so hot anymore.

A few weeks later, I’m still processing this whole thing, and then I realise how homophobic he was being. I share it with some of my friends and they are shocked, but I never go to the administration because I feel I took too long to realise what happened.

We share a drama class, and we end up getting assigned to be partners for an activity. Done with this man, I refuse to work with him, and I am forced to sit in silence in the drama room while others do trust activities. He confronts me about it after class.

Classmate: “What was that?!”

Me: “You said a lot of homophobic things to me and I refuse to work with you”

Classmate: “I can’t be homophobic; my sister’s gay! Name one thing I’ve said.”

I then went on to recap everything he said and left. He tried to act like he was going to defend himself, but he heroically shrugged it off like he was being the bigger man and letting it go. I didn’t see much of him afterward. Apparently, he got expelled because he was caught stealing a phone before an exam. Self-inflicted karma is sweet.