Thursday, May 10, 2007

Running with Scissors at an Institution of Slightly Higher Learning: a Trilogy

Once, while still attending Grad School, I sat at my usual table on the patio at Starbucks, reading Death in the Afternoon. This group of Bible Study kids shows up. There were about four or five of them, one of them being an odd young man who felt that his duty was to be extra loud so that everyone could appreciate how much fun he was. A thin young man with long unkempt auburn hair, he would shout out the most idiotic comments while the others tried to discuss the Bible. They weren't biblical comments, they just were stupid and loud and meant to be funny.

On this particular day, the kids had brought artsy-craftsy stuff and had planned to create something. At one point, the loud kid, holding a pair of scissors in his hands, shouts "I'll go get it!" and runs down the sidewalk to "get it" with the scissors still in his hand.

Another time, after school, I stood in my classroom looking out the window. I saw the usual group of students sitting at their usual lunch bench, playing their usual role-playing card game. Two girls stood over them and one seemed to be nagging one of the boys as he played the game.

Suddenly, this boy, who was about 6'6" leapt to his feet and chased the two girls, grabbing the nagger in a choke-like hold, held her for a moment, and then gave her neck a jerk. She fell like a ragdoll as he marched triumphantly back to his game.

I hurried out to where nagging girl lay, her friend hunched over her. Nagging girl was sobbing in a heap. I asked her of she was okay. She said "Yes," through her tears.

As I walked over to the gamers, I asked another teacher to call security. I stopped behind the tall kid, who had now continued his game as if nothing had happened, and asked him "What did you just do?"

He looked at his cards and not me and said "She pissed me off."

I said, "That's not what I asked you."

"It's cool," he said, "She's my sister."

A couple of weeks ago, on my way to teach my night class at Rio de Nada Community College, I stopped by the cafeteria to get a bottle of water and a snack. Inside, in a booth, another group of gamers sat playing their game. Shouting ensued. One guy yelled something about wizards or trolls or death cards or something and started running out the automatic doors. Another guy jumped up an chased the first guy, grabbing a pile of campus papers on his way out the doors. They ran across the campus and the second guy threw the papers at the first guy and, of course, the papers flew everywhere. Second guy then stopped running, turned around, and headed back to the cafeteria, leaving the papers scattered on the ground.

As I walked to my class, I watched him to see if he truly was going to leave all of those papers scattered across campus. For a moment our eyes locked and I wondered if I really was going to have to tell this guy--a student at a college for God's sake--that he needed to go pick up after himself. He flinched at my look, turned around again, and picked them up.

There is no moral to this. I just wanted to let you know that we may be outnumbered


Donita said...

Assholes to the left of me, assholes to the right.

I got severely tailgated tonight on the way home from our walk. I have no idea what I had done to deserve it but when I looked in the rearview mirror I could see that the guy was pissed. I don't think he was in a hurry because we were approaching a red light. It's not like I could go any faster to get out of his way.

I don't think I had made any foolish driving errors. I didn't even see him at all until he was riding my ass. What the hell is wrong with people?

vivage said...

they sure do make you appreciate the non-assholes we're tring to rear.

Donita said...

Ain't it the truth? No matter how much my kids messed up at home I always knew I could trust them to be good citizens out in the world. I never once had a teacher or another adult complain to me about them misbehaving. And it's not like we ever hammered at them about their public behaviour. So why do so many parents fail in this area? It's not that hard!

I know, I know. I don't really need an answer to that one. It just baffles my mind that people can be so bad at raising their kids.