It was a beautiful spring day when I was asked to substitute for the sixth grade math class. I agreed to the phone call, suited up and walked in for my day. The sixth grade’s first block was PE so that gave me an hour to talk with the other teachers and find out what was scheduled for the day, check the attendance roster and review the day’s lesson plan.
I got all the needed information for the day, put my “quote of the day” on the board and set my phone alarms for the block switch times. I then patiently waited for my class to come back from PE so that we could begin the day.
It didn’t take me long to realize that this 6th grade group was going to contain a few of my OCS regulars. Especially when they walked in and most of them could be heard groaning, “Aww man…not Mr. Garcia”. While they complained, others were intrigued and began asking question after question after question. It almost felt like I was a museum guide and they were a bunch of sugar feed 2nd graders.
It took me a bit to calm everyone down and answer the “where is our teacher” and “how long are you going to be our sub” questions. A few minutes into the lesson the classroom phone rang and the office lady was requesting one of my OCS kids for an early dismissal. I called his name and when he answered, I told him, “grab your things and head to the office … you’re going home.” He got excited for a minute and distracted the class by hooting and hollering for a couple of seconds then asked,
“Why am I going home?”
Without skipping a beat, I responded with “I didn’t ask but don’t worry…in my mind I’m throwing a party in my head” (responding to his cheers for early dismissal). “Oh yea … well … I’m happy too” he stuttered “cause I won’t be stuck in this class with you either”, he muttered as he slowly walked out of the class. I smiled at him in my regular, evil way, closed the door on him and continued with the day.
I didn’t think anything about what I had said for a while until the next morning when I was asked to return for OCS. When I walked in, the Principal and Assistant Principal were both standing in the office waiting for me and they were smiling.
I know that I didn’t show it at the time but I was actually pretty worried when they said that they needed to talk to me. Once they got me into the office and closed the door, they both started laughing and carrying on about my comment to the OCS kid. I apologized for the comment because I knew it wasn’t “cool” but they just laughed and said, “you’re fine, his mom called yesterday after school and complained about how ‘cold’ you were to him, especially since he was being pulled out due to his uncle passing away.”
That’s right … this kid’s uncle had just died and unbeknownst to me, I told him that I was throwing a party in my head because he is leaving.
His mom was furious and had apparently called up to the school and complained to anyone that would answer the phone. She requested that I be fired; never has anything to do with her kids ever again, demanded a formal apology and other outrageous things like a public execution. According to “legend”, she even filed a complaint on my behalf for my comment but to this day, I still have not seen or heard a single blip about it.
It was weird walking around the school for the next few days with some of the teachers, office workers and staff thanking me for the laugh but I honestly felt like crap for saying that but could not show weakness in OCS.
It took the OCS kid about a week to come back to school and when I ran into him in the halls, I pulled him aside and told him (without being asked to) “I’m sorry for your loss.” He looked at me kind of confused and asked, “What are you talking about?” I paused and said, “Your uncle…the one that passed away last week?” He thought for a minute and said, “Oh him…I didn’t really like him anyway.”
I’m sad to say that, I really wasn’t shocked by this but it just made feel sorry for his mom … even though she wanted me gone.
Oh well, we learn something new every day.