I was once a rebellious sort. I suppose I still am. When someone tells me to do something my first instinct is not to do it. But these days I’m a figure of authority as a teacher. I don’t take disrespect very well and my inner detective relishes busting a perp.
One time I was subbing a class and some young punk wrote, “Fuck Mr. Rolland” on the wall. I wasn’t too insulted as he spelled my name correctly and even put a Mr. in front of it, but I wasn’t going to let these shenanigans go down on my watch. The kid forgot I had everyone write their name down for attendance purposes, so I was able to go down the roster and see who wrote the letter a with the distinctive slant.
Today I was having lunch in the classroom I was covering. An aide was also in there when a mustachioed student walked in. I didn’t recognize him from the earlier classes.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“My friend left a piece of paper in here.”
“So why doesn’t he come in and get it?”
“He wanted me to.”
“Who’s your friend?” the aide asked.
He walked over to the trash can seemingly looking for this mysterious piece of paper. “Miguel.”
“There’s no Miguels in here. You have the wrong classroom.”
I was about to chase him out when a school security guard came in armed with a walkie-talkie. “Hey, why did you run?” The security guard tuned in my direction. “Was he smoking something?”
I mentioned how the student was hovering over the trash can. The security guard got down on his knees and began digging through the wastebasket. “Great, fucking kleenex! Aha!” He pulled out a little glass pipe filled with cashed weed. He hauled the kid out. I heard later he was taken off the premises in handcuffs.
A policewoman came in and asked me a few questions. The old me (or I suppose the young me) would have misdirected her. I’d have covered the kid’s tracks in the name of social anarchy. He showed a certain criminal genius in hiding in an open classroom and coming up with a passable story of why he was in there (this might have been the only class in the entire school that didn’t have a Miguel in it). But my reflex now was to get this troublemaker in the bed he made.
We become what we loathe.