The Cookout!!!

2014-01-16 16.58.03

Earlier this year I was substituting for the fourth grade team when I was “volunteered” to help with the campus cookout.  I didn’t know what they were talking about.  All I kept thinking was, “I’m not going camping with these kids.  Hell, I don’t even want to go camping with my kids…Shit, I don’t want to go camping.”  That’s when they explained to me that most of these kids have heard the word “camping” but have no idea what it means.  We knew that we could use testing vocabulary and certain math formulas to help them learn through the day.

The teachers told me that I would be teaching fire safety, helping to set up tents, cooking hot dogs for the kids and chicken fajitas for the teachers and finally making S’mores for everyone.  All I could think of was, “I get to eat, play with fire and grill on the job? Can I get an AMEN!!!?”  When I got home, I started gathering the charcoal, lighter, portable grill, tongs, my apron and the mandatory Whataburger Ketchup and Mustard (gotta treat the kids to greatness, right).

whataburger

As soon as I got to school that day, I started to set up.  I felt like Al Bundy getting ready for his annual BBQ.  That’s when they told me that I was also going to “teach” fire safety.

I wasn’t sure if I should handle that seriously like Smokey the Bear

Smokey3

or with a little comic flare like Fire Marshall Bill.

Fire_Marshall_Bill

Either way, I knew that I was going to have fun (as much fun grilling without a beer as a man can have).

I had kids running around, picking up trash in order to have a “clean camp site”, setting up tents and getting ice for our Ice Cold Water.  No matter what I was covering, the only question that I kept getting was, “What time are you gonna start the fire, Mr. Garcia?”

I was told to start the fire when NO STUDENT WAS WITHIN 15 FEET OF THE GRILL.

This rule made me start quoting Eddie Murphy … “NOW THAT’S A FIRE!!!

I started the fire and began the show.  The kids were watching me like I was a Vegas Magician or how most men watch the Hooters waitress.  So I did my best to put on a show.  Flipping the hot dogs here, twirling my tongs in one hand while no-look-passing the buns into the steamer … I was “on Fire” (figuratively).  I even had to grill some of those Tofu dogs, still not sure if that would be still considered “grilling”.

I was on a roll until; one of the fourth grade teachers asked me for an extra crispy hotdog … that’s when I dropped about 6 dogs into the fires of Mt Doom.

theeyeofsauronwithmountdoominthebackground

That was the first time that I had seen a woman cry over a hotdog.

At that point, I felt more like Homie D’Clown

home-d-clown

than Fire Marshall Bill

3 Fire_Marshall_Bill_by_Kaotik1302

but I think that I made up for it when the sound of those chicken fajitas hit the grill.  The sound penetrated the ears of every person over 25 within a 30 foot radius.  People started showing up just to “check on the kids” but they walked straight to the grill then back to their class.  I know that I’m not a chef or even a bad ass at the microwave but that day I made the grilling gods proud.

The kids all enjoyed their hot dogs and the teachers brought so much food that we had leftovers for 2 days … but the day wasn’t over yet.  The S’mores had to begin.  I’m not going to lie … this took 4-EVER!!!  School gets out at 3:20pm and I was still handing out treats till almost 3:45pm.  The things we do for our students, right?

Well after a quick clean up, some burned arm hair and a quick ride home, I felt pretty good about what we did for those kids.  I guess they enjoyed their day so much that one of them wanted to share his/her hotdog with me.  The bad part was that they hid it in my jacket pocket.

Oh well, sharing is caring.

Mr. Garcia – The Exterminator

 billy-the-exterminator

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.

Elmer_fudd

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.

rat

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

game-over-1

Did he just say what I think he said?

IMG_20120525_082326

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.

download (1)

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

transformers-the-movie-movie-poster-1986-1020205052

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

goonies_never_say___tattoo___by_kaffepanna

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

Save_the_Cheerleader_by_Chel_nak

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,

2894743-dinobotscartoon

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.

934942_3179630307678_817646712_n

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.

I’m sorry sir but you have got to go!

600x330px-LL-69311c75_mother-of-god-super-troopers

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:

-demotivational-poster-1224028364

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.

Crowd laughing

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!?!”

mad bull

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!!!”

nelson

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.

snozzberries-snozzberries-fiction-super-troopers-willy-wonka-demotivational-poster-1233637441

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.

Is that your dad?

lifetime

After years of watching movies, after school specials and yes … even some Lifetime movies (with my wife and mom), there is always a part in those shows were the kids will yell, “I HATE YOU!!!” to their parents.  I never truly understood why they would say that when I was watching those shows but now I do.

9227f190bc2c94328b7e88c808865b7c

I have always been pretty tough on my kids.

I expect good manners, good grades and a great sense of humor.  Most of my kid’s friends only recognized me from yelling at my son’s football games, their practices and from my awesome dance moves while sitting in the parking lot waiting to pick them up.

That being said: I found it really weird when my kids would ask, “Dad, are you subbing at my school today?”  They were NEVER allowed to call me “Dad” at school and it was weird hearing my kids calling me “Mr. Garcia”.  I had to promise my wife to NEVER treat my kids or their friends like OCS kids or to give them any “extras” because I knew them.  After a few years of substituting, my son was sitting with his friends in the cafeteria at his high school when an interesting conversation began.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!

BetterOfDead

Now, I was not present at this lunch but according to my son and his two best friends, the guys started to make fun of one of their teachers and how much of a “jerk” she was.  Then of course, it became the guys “pissing contest” of who was the WORST teacher that they ever had.  One mentioned his previous History teacher.  Another blasted his fourth grade teacher, then out of nowhere the last kid boasted, “The WORST teacher I ever had to put up with was this ASSHOLE called Mr. Garcia.  He was my OCS teacher.”  My son and his friends looked at him cautiously and asked him to describe this “Mr. Garcia” that he spoke of.  This kid described me almost perfectly,

Not+Another+Teen+Movie.+Not+Another+Teen+Movie_1157df_4668774

so I guess that I must have made an impression on him.  My son’s best friends started laughing and my son just shook then just lowered his head.

The kid was confused at why the others were laughing and why my son had his head lowered.  That’s when one of my son’s best friends told the kid, “Dude…you’re talking about his dad.” The kid questioned my son for about 10 minutes after that.  Before the end of lunch, this kid stood up, told my son that he was sorry for making fun of his dad and went to by my son a coke and some cookies.

download

When he handed the coke and cookies to my son, my son asked, “What’s this for?”

The kid took a deep breath and said, “I only had to deal with your dad during OCS … you have to live with him, I think that you deserve something for that.”

When my son and his friends told me this story, I laughed along with them for a while but I made sure to give him a hard time the next time I saw him.  Maybe next time this kid will give my son something better than a coke and some cookies.

kinopoisk.ru

Hugs, Not Drugs!!!

IMG_30286284934216 

It was my first year of substituting for the district and I was starting to get called regularly by teachers because:

1.  I am a man

2.  My size kind of intimidated the kids.

I was lucky this one morning to be able to substitute at my son’s school for the 4th time that year.  At his school, the kids never knew me as the OCS teacher but they knew that I “didn’t play” and that I was “mean as hell”.

I knew the name of the teacher that I was subbing for but didn’t know what grade that she taught.  I remember walking into the office and after asking the secretary what grade was I going to be in and she smiled and said,

FerrisBueller_042Pyxurz1

“Fourth grade” as she handed me the copy of the class roster.

This was my first time to handle fourth grade and I was a little nervous.  I started to walk down the hall to my designated area for the mandatory hall monitoring.

I counted the classrooms as I passed them:  Room 3, Room 5, Room 7, turn right at the end of the hall Room 9 and finally Room 11.  As I waited for the janitor or team lead to come open my classroom door, all I heard was

creepy-kids-with-glowing-eyes-carpenters-village-o1

“HI MR. GARCIA!!!”

This was said in unison by a bunch of 2nd graders in an eerie song like chant.

I swear that I shook in my shoes when that happened.  Then they sprinted at me like

the claw

those little green aliens from Toy Story that prayed to “The Crane”.  Before I knew it … I was surrounded.  They were actually giving me a group hug.  I had never had one of those before.  Even though I knew they were little kids and they were innocent and happy … I still patted my pockets when they all let go (checking for my wallet, watch and cellphone).

group-hug-642-380

I know that sounds like a shitty thing to say but this school was not our first choice for our kids.  Then again, we weren’t aware that we could pay an extra $50 to transfer our kids to a “better school”.  Oddly enough, I kept getting booked at this school for a while and I kind of miss it … every once in a while.

There’s a Party in my Head

balls-of-fury_l

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.

dodgeball PE

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.

laughing at Don in group photo

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.

cold blooded

COLD BLOODED!!!!

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.”

funeral_selfie

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.