Let’s see. School had been in session for a day and a half. Friday was the first day that lunch was served, but already I had a couple of run-ins with students. Folks, it doesn’t take long! Those encounters came about as I completed my bathroom duty during lunch.

The duty isn’t hard. It entails having boys sign a log before they enter the restroom. Since this procedure began, smoking in the bathroom has almost stopped during lunch periods. That means that other students can go in without choking to death or without smelling like a dirty ashtray when they exit. I volunteered for the duty, mostly because I don’t have to do bus duty in the morning or tardy duty during my planning period. The job is easy, and I get to talk to kids whom I otherwise would never meet.

On this first day one student decided to play “twenty questions.” He wanted to know why students had to sign in to use the restroom. I assumed he was new to the school and told him that doing so had lessened the number of smokers. He sneered and asked if I thought that kids would stop just because they signed a piece of paper. I assured him that it had worked so far, and he asked another question which I answered. Then he made the statement that caused my blood pressure to rise: “This is stupid!” At that I told him to just sign the sheet if he planned to use the restroom. He left in a huff; I was aggravated at having to verbally joust with a kid no more than fifteen.

Toward the end of the period, things heated up again. One student strolled passed me, and I called him back to sign the log. While he did, I noticed hanging from a belt loop a large key ring. On it were several items, all of them considered violations of the dress code. Chains and spikes that are popular with some of the students can be turned into weapons, and the key ring items fell under that category.

I instructed the boy to take the items off and put them into his pocket. He immediately became hostile and wanted to know why. I told him about the dress code and told him to take them off, but he said “No.” I told him to follow me to the principal at the other end of the cafeteria, and he began to curse me. I put my hand on his backpack to direct him in the right direction. The boy bowed up, cursed me and then came out with, “I know you want to hit me, and if you do, I’ll sue you, you @$(#&$*(#!”

Now I was miffed. Other staff members who saw the incident later stated that they were sure the boy was about to hit me. I told the kid that if he hit me that I would own him, a retort that I admit wasn’t especially appropriate for a teacher. However, sometimes a person can only take so much. By then, we’d arrived at the principal’s table.

I explained the situation, and the principal instructed the student to give her the key ring. He blurted out “Why,” to which the principal said “because I asked you to!” Then this student cursed at the principal, and at that moment, only one word was crossed my mind: GONE!

For the previous two or three weeks, I’ve struggled with this being my last year. I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out why I’ve planned on retiring this year. Heck, I will only be 56 when I retire and must find a new job to make a living for the next six years, at least until social security kicks in. Teaching school is a noble profession; everyone tells me that while government officials still refuse to pay us in the classroom a wage commiserate with our education and with the importance our jobs. Just the same, I like to interact with kids and to watch them mature and learn.

Then I think of incidents like the ones that occurred today. I vividly recall the disdain that the boy felt for me, and I could see how much he wanted to knock me senseless. No, I wasn’t scared, nor have I ever been afraid when I’ve encountered a student who wanted to fight. In fact, I appreciate this angry boy and his acts. I had wondered why I was retiring before I met him, but now I remember!!