Wednesday, March 23, 2011

One Monkey, One Phone, And One Shoe

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.


knancy said...

At least the students ask to borrow a pencil. When I worked at a large insurance company, we had a medical doctor on staff for the sole purpose of reviewing high dollar questionable claims. One day as I was totally absorbed in an Excel spreadsheet, this same physician walked into my space, around my desk on the left, behind me and grabbed a pencil out of my pen/pencil cup on the right portion of my desk. Until his arm appeared in my peripheral vision reaching near my right shoulder I really wasn't aware he was there. I went bonkers! First it scared me that someone was that close to me and behind me! I immediately exclaimed the famous "WTF are you doing" and body slammed my rolling chair into his scrawny little frame. Well, he got scared then. Here he was in a white lab coat with at least four pockets and he had no writing utensil? I read him the riot act about being in my space and a person needs to ask before receiving. He was better behaved for a little while. However, about a month later I caught him stealing a piece of cake I had brought in and put in our department's refrigerator in our private kichen so I could have it with my 10:00 coffee break. When questiioned why he thought he could take something that was not his he stated that he just thought someone had forgotten it there and besides it was wrapped in a funky wrapper. Talk about juvenile! Of course, I went back to my desk and let everyone know what a thief he was in as loud a voice I could. Had he not been a doctor would he have been reprimanded by administration? As far as I know nothing was ever said to him as long as he was there. As I spread the word about his antics I did find out that in the RN department he would go from desk to desk and help himself to whatever they may have as snackies on their desks. When they saw him coming they would stash their goodies into drawers. Why didn't they just tell him to keep his paws off? I would have told him to piss off while I was at it. I renamed him Dr. Bandito as this rhymed with his real name and on more than one occasion it did slip unintentionally from my mouth when I had to be in boardroom meetings with the pilferer. Seems as if controlling morons' behaviors is a non-ending task and becomes more surprising every day. I need a shirt that says I am surrounded by banditos medicos stupidos (just for casual Fridays, of course).

Mommy Needs a Xanax said...

OOOOOOoooooooooooo it pissed me off when students asked to borrow pencils. Every time you talk about a student leaving a shoe as collateral, I try to imagine myself getting the same collateral from one of my students. It would never happen. A 14 year old black boy would sooner trade you a kidney than give up an Air Jordan. Okay, maybe not a kidney, but he'd definitely take an F for the day to keep his shoes on. Of course, I can't really blame them, considering how they think it's hilarrrrrrrrious to steal each other's shoes and hide them or throw them as far as possible just to watch the one-shoed-sucker go limping after it. lol I miss those little jackasses. The point of this comment hijacking is that I'd keep mine on, too, ifn I were a 14 year old black boy with shoe-thieving friends.

PossumManor said...

I have this pencil argument daily. Now with most using mechanical ones, they want just the lead. First period, kid has no paper and no pen or pencil. My mom made sure we had supplies when we went off to school.

OHHHHHH tissues. That is another thing. I could spend my whole paycheck on boxes of tissues. I ask them to bring them in, but they do not. When I have bought them in, they are not satisfied with one...they take five or six. One girl told me it was my job to have tissues for her. I cannot offer extra credit for classroom tissues because it is not fair to the families with no money for classroom tissues. Honestly. I steal rolls of toilet paper from the faculty bathroom and put them in my class. I have thought of a toilet paper holder on the wall, but I thought that was too tacky, even for me.

Mommy Needs a Xanax said...

Oh, and Knancy-- Yes, doctors get to do wtf ever they want. One called my husband an a**hole yesterday at work. Just screamed it at him because husband wouldn't break some policy to give the doctor what she wanted when she wanted it and how she wanted it. (Hubby is a pharmacist in a hospital.) He complained to HR or whoever, and they told him the doctor was the chief of surgery and to "just let it go." The lady he spoke with also told him in confidence that this doctor treats everyone like crap and even got mad at a worker in the cafeteria one day and started screaming insults at her and threatening to have her fired. The worker was in tears. Some people get into a prestigious position and decide it makes them God.

I hate doctors who think they're special.

knancy said...

Mommy Needs a Xanax,
They probably didn't have a pencil to take notes the day they were taught their first oath, "Do no harm".

Hillbilly Mom said...

I have a hard time with people who are into my space and touching my stuff. It's MINE! When you get your shirt, I will make one for myself that says, "People Piss Me Off!"

Well, we have a different clientele. The cell phone is the new Air Jordan. Not an iPhone, either. It may be a plain ol' tracfone from The Devil's Playground, but it's the item of value.

They ASK for a mechanical, but I give them wood. Heh, heh. I said wood. I also buy the tissues. You're right about the squanderers. Five and six tissues for one blow. Or the time I caught a kid cutting them up, who, when asked, said she was making confetti. Or the boy who used three of them in a bizarre, future Vegas magic act.

Like that male reproductive organ who ridiculed me when I woke up during surgery.

lyssa said...

This is an excellent plan for us homeschooling mommies too. The lack of pencils drives me batty. I can't tell you how many shades of purple I get when I realize my fifth grader just did her whole page of math WRONG and with a Sharpie. We do take things a lot around here though, and my closet is full of mostly shoes and coats. They have to pay us .25 a shoe/item to get them back and yesterday my hubby dumped the huge pile in the middle of the living room floor and yelled, "I want my closet space, dagnabbit! So pay up and take your junk!" But of course, no one had any quarters so they had to trade and barter with stuff...which went back in our closet. Obviously, we need to perfect this consequence...

Hillbilly Mom said...

If you find my 10 missing pairs of scissors, and 15 pencil sharpeners, and 3 staplers, I will gladly pay $7.00 to get them back. One of these days, I'm going to rip up the floor in the #1 son's room, and find his hoard of office supplies.

labbie1 said...

Woke UP DURING SURGERY????? I hope you sued the living sh*t out of the male member and got his license suspended and had him COMMITTED!!!

Around here, I cannot believe the lists of things that have to be provided by the students when going back to school including tissues, pencils, dry erase markers and the lists go on and on for pages!!!--I mean, I don't know HOW any parent can afford to send their kid to school!!!! And they all have a note that states NOT to put names on anything as it goes into a pool of items for the whole class--doled out by the teacher as needed I presume.

Our church collected stuff last year and I thought the school staff were gonna cry when we delivered them!

I caught the sales after school started last year and have 3 big boxes of stuff put up for next year to donate. I miss having a school age child, so it is a hoot to do!!!!

But wow!!!! Honestly, who is getting the money from our taxes???? I know the teachers aren't!!!!!

Hillbilly Mom said...

No. But I reported the comments of his cohorts, the nurses, to the Nursing Director when she called to ask about my surgery experience. She was livid.

She said she would pull the records and see who was in that operating room, and make an example of them. She could verify my statements by my quotes of what the nurses talked about going on in the next-door operating room. She said they stress that hearing is the last sense to go, and that her nurses are instructed to speak as if the patient can hear you.
She added that there is not much that is done to the doctors, but that I should lodge a complaint.

I just wanted to put the whole episode behind me. It was very disturbing. Besides, what if the guy had to operate on me again? I don't want to turn up the main character in a Robin Cook novel.

At least the school told you the items go into a pool. It took me two years to find out why my kids were using crappy yellow pencils instead of the colorful ones I sent. You'd think they would have at gotten a good one at random in those two years, but no.

I can't figure out that tax money thing, unless it goes to building and upkeep of the facility. I suppose part of it goes into the salary fund. I know we have separate money for texts, and for equipment, and for consumables like paper. And that the only time we get computer upgrades is from somebody writing a grant. We also have to jump through hoops for federal money. It's a tangled web.