Mr. Garcia – The Exterminator

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Every substitute has that little “clause” in their job description that makes them the fill all, save all.  Even after the long work day dealing with the wonderful OCS kids, a good substitute usually sticks around to monitor the halls or the outside campus grounds.

This particular afternoon, I was delivering my kids’ classwork to their respective teachers when I heard this really loud scream from down the hallway.  This scream was quickly followed by some laughter, a few more loud screams then … nothing.  I walked up to the office and the head clerk, the nurse, two lunch ladies and the vice principal were standing in the office talking about the size of something.

I gave an awkward smile when they all stopped talking and laughing.  Then I heard the question, “Ask Mr. Garcia if he will do it?”  I braced myself for the worst and one of the lunch ladies finally said,”Mr. Garcia, Will you come to the cafeteria storage room and kill the rat?”  Confused but relieved, I agreed to “dispose” of Mickey’s asshole cousin WITH GREAT VENGEANCE AND FURIOUS ANGER!!!

On our short walk to the storage room, the cafeteria lady described to me why I heard the scream, why the laughter followed and why the rat wouldn’t be “at full speed”.  Apparently, the lunch ladies had taken their fearful frustrations out on this rat with the business end of a dust pan.  I don’t remember much of that conversation, except for the last part.  It was very evident since there was a nice trail of blood from one door to another.  So now I turned into Elmer “Fucking” Fudd, hunting this injured rat with a small dust broom and the same dust pan that made it bleed.

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I swear to all that is holy, in my head – all I could picture was this wounded rat stitching itself up, “Roadhouse style” but then I’d hear in my left ear … “If it bleeds, we can kill it.”

Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to see.

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I followed the trail behind this large cardboard box of Clorox and there it was.  Its tail was six inches in length but its body was a good 5 inches.  When I moved the box to make sure it had no exit plan, it looked back at me as if to say, “Are you gonna bark all day, little doggie or are you gonna bite?”  That was all I needed to finish the job.  I took my left foot and dug in for grip as I lifted the dust broom like a spear and that’s when that stupid “in the arms of an angel” ASPCA commercial music started to play in my head.  I really didn’t want to end its life and was thinking of just sweeping him into a box and releasing him in the field outside of the school but then that Mickey Mouse reject hissed at me …

AND IT WAS

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Did he just say what I think he said?

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At the end of almost every school year, most classes have parties, field trips or schedule other fun things for their students.  In most cases there are always a few kids with discipline or grade issues that tend to be left behind.  On this day in particular, I was set to stay on campus with almost 25 boys and girls while the remaining students were on their way to have fun in the sun at a local water park.

I was asked by the Math and English teachers to show the students some PG or PG-13 movies that were approved for the 6th grade kids.  As I looked over the selection of Pixar and Disney movies, I realized that most of the boys in this group would not be entertained by the selection and might honestly cause more trouble while staying with me.  So I asked if I could bring some “kid friendly” movies from home.  The teachers told me, “As long as you make sure that they are PG-13 and are not too violent, then it will be okay.”

So when I got home, I started looking in my DVD holder and put aside: Sky High, Transformers, Goonies and Remember the Titans.

Sky High – Super Hero High School kids having teenage problems with an awesome 80s soundtrack.

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Transformers – The original 80s cartoon movie that truly Kicks Ass!!!

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The Goonies – Look, if I have to explain what The Goonies is … your childhood SUCKED!!!

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Remember the Titans – Awesome football movie with that “save the cheerleader, save the world” girl.

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Anyway … I ended up bringing Sky High, The Goonies and Transformers since the History teacher told me that he had already shown Remember the Titans earlier that year.  Well, I started the morning with a quick Math “game show” contest to see who got to choose the first movie.  The girls won and chose some cheesy movie called the Ant Bully that I didn’t even know was in the building.  I was amazed by how it kept their attention for the very “painful” 90 minutes of my life but then it was the guys turn to choose and they selected Transformers.

I tried my best to not act excited …

But it has Optimus Prime, Iron Hide, The Dinobots,

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Megatron, Unicron, The Matrix and of course

“You’ve got the touch … You’ve got the Power!!!!!!”

All the boys lined up on the floor, anticipating the start of the movie.  At this point the classroom door opened up and we were surprised by one of the lunch ladies.  She informed us that they had made too many pizzas and since they knew that the other 6th graders were off campus, they thought that we might enjoy a snack with our movie.  It was as if God had sent us a little gift.

When the opening credits started, I turned into the wide-eyed, teenager that sat in the SAGE Theater back in 1986.  At this point, some of the boys started to talk smack about the cartoon aspect of the movie.  That’s when I returned to Mr. OCS and silenced them to appreciate the Greatness that was

The Transformers.

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For a few minutes the kids would look really bored with Kip, Daniel and Hot Rod on the screen but when Unicron started to eat Moon Base 1 and Spike yells,

“Aw Shit, what are we gonna do now!”

You would have thought that these kids had never heard the word “shit” in their entire life.  It is as if the years of OCS, detention, possible gang fights, Rated R movies, Primetime TV and God forbid the school playground trash talk hand never touched their “sensitive “ear drums.

They all stopped talking, looked at each other shocked and then turned to me with the whites of their eyes open.  I literally had to stop the movie and explain to them that I know that they hear worse words in the lunch room or at recess when they are around their friends.  After a few quick giggles they were all sitting back down and waiting to hear the next curse word but they just ended up enjoying the rest of the movie.

When I work with Math classes and a kid tells me that they want to be Video Game designer or programmer when they grow up; I always give them examples of Pixar and Disney movies but on that day … these kids got to see how the magic of the film industry was back in the 80s. Now they can understand what the power of a child’s imagination and some hard work can do for the future of the entertainment industry.