It was a beautiful day in Texas when I showed up to my assigned substitution job. I was all set to take care of the 6th grade Math group when I was stopped in the hallway. The 6th grade team lead, we’ll call her Mrs. Evil, knew that today was going to be a real tough day since 2 of her teachers were going to be out but she was still happy that her substitutes were both male.
I introduced myself to the other sub; we’ll call him Mr. Man, and then followed Mrs. Evil out to the portable buildings. I had already subbed for this group a few times that year and knew what to expect and who to keep an eye on but Mr. Man was new to our district, our school and possibly to kids in general.
Now, if you don’t know this by now, let me help you understand a little known fact:
There is this population on the face of the Earth of rude & obnoxious miniature adults known as teenagers. They just so happen to begin their war path during the 6th grade years. Much like the large predator cats in the wild, if you show weakness or fear around these “teenagers” … you’ll be lucky to get out alive.
Now we get to the fun part:
Mr. Man was holding down the Language Arts group while I was working the Math class next door. We were separated by 2 cheap hollow doors and a constantly humming security panel. As I was putting the Math notes & examples up on the board, I could hear some loud yelling through the wall. My students were already unhappy that I was there but their faces would cringe at the yelling and all I could do was smile. I smiled because, in my head, Mr. Man was setting his tone for his classroom by putting the “fear” into all of his students.
The bad part was that his outbursts were usually followed by a larger outburst of laughter from the class. So about halfway through the class, I opened hollow door #1 then knocked on hollow door #2 to ask for Kleenex or whatever. Honestly, I was trying to see how Mr. Man was doing because it really didn’t sound like he was doing too well.
He pulled the door open in ANGER and said, “WHAT!?!”
My guess was that he thought it was another student messing with him and not me on the other side of that hollow door. I smiled and then calmly asked him for the supplies and if everything was okay? Mr. Man took a step back; stood tall and kind of sounded like Keanu Reeves when he said, “Sure Bruh.”
Now, I have been a teenager, I’ve had friends that were teenagers, I know some women that were CRAZY teenagers and a few guys that were ASSHOLE teenagers. So when I saw Hitler, Kenny G, Lucifer and Michael Bolton playing Hop-Scotch in the glimmer of Mr. Man’s eyes…I should have known that THE CRAZY TRAIN was rolling full speed ahead to my location but I just closed the door behind me and rejoined my class.
Wouldn’t you know it that in less than 10 minutes, all I heard was a large boom followed by a lot of yelling. This was no regular yelling though … this yelling traveled through the cool, crisp Texas air; it echoed through the portable building and through the souls of the students.
“YOU FUCKING LITTLE SHITHEAD!!!”
This was followed by another 15-20 colorful words that would have made Quint blush. I calmly put that day’s assignment on the board (like anyone was going to do it); asked one of my trusted students to go get Mrs. Evil and told the rest of the class in my calmest yet creepy voice, “if I hear one sound come out of here … you don’t even want to know what will happen.” Then I walked into Mr. Man’s classroom.
No one was laughing but there were a handful of smiling students, a few scared students and Mr. Man standing toe-to-toe with this one “trouble making” teenager. Apparently his backpack had tripped Mr. Man and caused the rest of the excitement. I walked up between them and asked the student to take his seat and asked Mr. Man to step outside with me so he could cool down.
Mr. Man turned to me and barked, “This little shit needs to learn some respect!” Now I hadn’t been yelled at by another adult in a while and for some odd reason I know that it started to piss me off. So I turned to the student and told him to step outside, looked Mr. Man right in the eyes and told him to get his things and wait outside, too. I then looked for another trusted student in the Language Arts class and asked her to take names for Mrs. Evil.
By the time I got outside, Mrs. Evil was just walking up and you could see a bunch of 6th graders pressed against the portable windows waiting for a show. Mrs. Evil was pretty pissed off at this point and started asking question, after question, after question.
To which I took a deep breath and calmly said, “Ma’am … you might want to find another sub for English because I don’t think that Mr. Man will be back after I walk him down to the office.” Her facial expression showed a level of confusion that I have yet to find on any other face. I then looked up at the portable windows again and saw the 6th graders scatter; I shook my head and simply said,
“Go to the office.”
I’ve had a lot of firsts in my life: my 1st bike, my 1st truck, my 1st Whataburger (Thank you 8lb 6oz Baby Jesus), my 1st kiss and my 1st job but this was the 1st time that I ever had to separate an “adult” from a teenager then walk them both to the Principal’s office.
Oh well … now I can just chalk it up to experience.