No, that's not an original song I penned for my garage band, Mommy's Got a Headache.
One monkey, one phone, and one shoe is the way my day started. I took roll, introduced the lesson, put my students into groups, passed out the assignment...and was confronted by three timid mice inquiring as to whether I could spare a pencil. Shame on them. They know my rule. Bring your materials to class, or lose your participation points for the day. And risk the wrath of Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.
Since it was only 1st hour, my wrath had not yet localized. It was a free-floating wrath, sailing about the room willy-nilly on zephyrs of window-draft. And because they approached me in the preferred fashion, alone, quietly, without drawing attention or ripping the knowledge right out of the heads of their peers, I cut them a deal. "Give me some collateral, and I will loan you a pencil." I forgot that I would have to explain collateral. "Leave something here with me, and you will get it back when I get my pencil back."
Don't be thinkin' Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is one petty old crone. Do the math. What if three kids forgot their pencils every hour? That's 3 pencils x 6 class periods x 5 days a week x 36 weeks of school. Who has the answer? I don't see any hands. You, there in the front row. A buttload of gosh-darn pencils, you say? Indeed. That's 3240 pencils a year.
The Devil's Playground has Ticonderogas twelve for $4.33. That's $0.36 apiece. Or The Devil will gladly sell me Orioles at 72 for $11.94, which is a better bargain at $0.19 each. Even at the cheap rate, supplying all of the scoffrules with pencils every day would set Mrs. Hillbilly Mom back $615.60 per year. That's money out of her own pocket. Not requisition money. Granted, there are not three students per class period who consistently lack writing instruments. But what if?
When I taught in Lower Basementia, I took the lunch card as collateral. Basementia is all business when it comes to lunch. No lunch card, no lunch fun. Students without the card must go to the back of the line, and sit at a separate table. Replacement cards cost a dollar. I should know. I bought three for the #1 son. Newmentia does not even issue lunch cards anymore. That I know of. Charging is done by sight. The lunch lady knows everyone.
Thus, the matter of bartering for valuables in a Tom-Sawyer-whitewashing-Aunt-Polly's-fence manner ensued.
The first student offered me a one-inch-tall, red plastic monkey. I accepted it, because in my opinion, it held great sentimental value. Why else would a 14-year-old boy carry a plastic monkey to school? The next student swapped me a cell phone. That's always good collateral. They're not about to leave without their cellie. The last student stubbed his toe into the tile. "I really don't have anything. Would you take a shoe?" Normally, no. But I made an exception, because I can roll with the changes. He parked his black skater-shoe next to my desk.
As they turned in their work, my nonpaying customers stopped by to return my pencils. It's better than attaching a long chain to them. The pencils. Not the students. I'm pretty sure there's a law against that, even in Missouri.