It's almost 5 p.m., I'm at my classroom computer doing quarterly grades, feeling cranky because I can't even play my favorite Internet radio station on my CPS-issued desktop computer, so instead I'm blasting some lame music off the Windows Media player that is installed on my machine, and I'm reading essays that were turned in a week late and hating them, hating life, and looking over my class rosters and wondering how it's possible to actually fail my class. I'm in this dark mood when one of my students pops his head in my room and tries to be funny.
"Still here?" he asks. "What's the matter? Your cat kick you out of the house?"
"Funny!" I yell. "I was just wondering if you were getting a B or a C this quarter!"
"Oh my God, that reminds me," he says. "I accidentally took my quiz before you entered it in your grade book. Can I get it from my locker? Can you put my grade in?"
He's right. He wanted to see what he got on a quiz a couple of days ago, took the quiz and never gave it back. So I gave him a zero. I mean, I didn't remember what he got. I decide to be a little sarcastic.
"Oh, so you actually want something, huh? I thought you were here to make fun of me."
"I'll be right back," he says, and runs off to his locker. He comes back with the quiz. "Can I just leave it here?" he asks, putting it on my desk. "Will you put my score in your grade book?"
"Maybe," I say. "If I remember. If it doesn't accidentally blow off my desk. Anyway, what did you say about me still being here?"
"You'll remember, right?" he asks.
Just then a girl walks into my room, someone I don't recognize. "Oh, I'm sorry," I say to her, "is my music too loud? Am I being a bad neighbor?"
"We were wondering if we could borrow your CD player," she says.
"What? No," I say. "I don't have a CD player. I'm playing this on my computer."
"Oh," she says and walks out. My student is still in the room, watching her leave, and I'm still feeling sarcastic.
"I don't even know her, and I'm supposed to lend her my CD player?" I say. "It's not like I was listening to music anyway, right?"
He just shakes his head and says, "You won't forget to put in my quiz score, will you?"
"Maybe," I say. After he leaves, I do put in his score and notice that it actually raises him from a high B to a low A. Lucky him.
As I leave my room I see some random man down the hall, peering into the dark library. "Can I help you find something?" I ask him. He doesn't speak English well, but he manages something about looking for his daughter. I walk him to the main office, which is empty. Along the way, I run into a Spanish-speaking student of mine and she translates. The missing girl is a freshman; her parents pick her up after school every day. Today she didn't come out of the usual exit. They've been looking for her ever since.
It's after school, almost 5, and I realize there's still a lot happening on campus. Is the girl taking the ACT class? No. Is she on the soccer team? Track team? Softball? No, no, no. Is she in a club that meets today? Tutoring? No. No. I wander around the building a little. There are kids all over the place. And people think kids hate school. We go back to the main office. I run into a Spanish-speaking teacher. We go into the secretary's office, figure out the intercom system, and make a couple of announcements in both languages for the girl to come to the office if she's in the building.
A minute later she shows up. Her parents look relieved. I'm still feeling cranky, so I scold her. "Where were you? And why didn't you tell your parents about it?"
She has no idea who I am, but she answers politely anyway. "I was doing a service learning project with Mr. A. And I did tell my mom about it this morning."
Mom, Dad, and daughter then chatter away in Spanish, and I head for the exit. It's after 5 now; hopefully I won't run into any more students. No such luck.
to be continued ...