1st Period, Metropolitan High

Across the hall from me, Mr. Gates is having a wall installed in his room. He doesn’t need a new wall, and tries to explain this. He also tries to explain that he had plans to teach today, as opposed to suffering hammers and saws all day. The workmen respectfully listen. Gates is seven feet tall, broad shouldered, wears a Harley t-shirt, so of course they listen. But in the end, it’s easier just to go through with the work order than rescind it.

The workmen decide not to tear down the existing wall. It’s fine. They just add to the inside of the existing wall. By the end of the day, I figure Gates’ outer wall will be about three feet thicker, a wall worthy of a medieval siege.

Lucky for me, all this construction will be going on inside his classroom, so it won’t bother me. Lucky for Gates, over the years he’s developed this stoic, resign yourself to the dharma thing. That and he’s got months until retirement.

I have to administer a standardized test for ESOL students, English For Speakers Of Other Languages. The students arrive at 8:30. This will take my second and third periods. About 30% of our students are foreign born, and as expected, the roll begins, “Ghufran, Mahmed, Farishta, Lejla, Bert …”. Bert? So I ask Bert what the hell he’s doing here. His last name is vaguely Spanish, so I figure, OK, immigrants, right? No. Born in Little Rock. So I wonder if the parents speak Spanish in the home. His parents are Sally and Jeff. “Do I have to take this test because my parents speak bad English?”

I call down to the office. Bert’s problem is that he has taken this test for three years running now, and the boss figures it’s easier to keep him on the list for just this once more. Besides, it’s good for the school. He always does well on the test.

I ask Gates to cover for me while I duck-out for a quick dunk. I’ve always found it remarkable that the men’s toilet has near-boiling water. But it used to be worse. The commode used to explode.

Back in the day, the toilet used to be as near-boiling as it is today. But, when first flushed in the morning back then, the pressure had so backed-up overnight that, not only did it not flush, it blew-out with such explosive force that the water flew three feet in the air. And, of course, nobody ever told this to the new guy. The only way to garner this information was experiential learning. What do you say? “Welcome to our school. Here’s your keys. There’s your class. The commode explodes.”

But this morning it’s more like a soothing butt sauna.

Filed under: Prose, Publius