A while back I shared some stories from school with you. You may also have read about my attending a Jaston Williams writing workshop in Lubbock the other day. I shared a story from school at the workshop in one of our assignments, as we were writing from life experiences. So I will share that story with you in a slightly different form.
It had been one of those days. When lunch time came, I stayed in the room to grade 4th period’s tests so that would be one less set of papers to lug home. This was back in the old building, before all the renovations, and my room was big and my desk was on the back wall away from the hallway and my door. I became aware of noise coming down the quiet hall. Girls’ voices became louder, chattering about who knows what. The closer they came the louder and more animated they became. But apparently one of the girls had listened to enough, and I heard, in this crystal clear voice above the chatter, “Oh, just shut the f--- up!”
For a split second there was silence. I looked up and caught a fleeting glimpse as three girls glided past my door. The girls took a breath, I sat in surprised shock. and without missing another beat, the conversation started up again, albeit a bit more subdued. Immobilized by indecision, my shoulders dropped, and I let out a big sigh. Geez, I suppose I should deal with that, but I don’t want to. The exasperated girl didn’t mean for me to hear that. They were oblivious to any teacher being within ear shot.
Let it go, I decided. The speaker of the expletive no doubt had had a morning like mine, and I knew just how she felt.
I asked April Smith, down the hall, if she had heard the girls and told her what had transpired. We both laughed, commiserated with the ring leader, and from then on when we were bored to distraction by one of our fellow teachers who liked to expound upon her own useless ideas at our faculty meetings, we would instinctively look at each other, roll our eyes, and mouth in silence “just shut the f…” grin knowingly, and try to look interested as this person blathered on ad nauseum about whatever. Like the girl in the hall, we were never reprimanded, either, but it didn’t take any special lip-reading skills to know what we had silently screamed at the offending speaker. So I always figured there were others in the group who were thinking the same thing themselves.
So the years have passed, but there are times when I find myself in a similar situation. Like once when I was cornered by an obnoxious grandmother who was just sure I would want to hear all about her lovely, talented, beautiful, smart, blah, blah, blah, successful granddaughter. As she yammered on and on -and on- I couldn’t help but wish Mrs. Smith was sitting across the way, so I could roll my eyes at her, mouth the magic phrase, and chuckle to myself as I escaped the present, slipped back into my room, and listened for surprises in the hall.