Friday, November 15, 2013

Social Studies Test

            Man, I’m just giving this question away.

            I stared down at my revision to the Social Studies test.  The original question  read:

Write a paragraph comparing Socialism and Capitalism.  Be sure to include at least two points of comparison.

            "They'll never get that," I thought.  I crossed out the problems and wrote:

Put a “C” if the statement refers to Capitalism or an “S” if the statement refers to Socialism.

            _____The government owns most of the businesses.

            _____Competition determines the price of products.

            _____The government determines the price of products.

            _____The government is very powerful.

            _____Private citizens own the businesses.

Use the statements above and write a paragraph comparing Capitalism and Socialism.

            Yeah.  I really am giving this question away.

            Three hours later Mrs. Holzworth, the Social Studies teacher, marched into my room and  slapped a test on my desk.

            “You gotta see this.”

            I stared down at Caitlyn’s Social Studies test.

            “Last page,” directed Mrs. Holzworth.

            I flipped to the back and quickly scanned the list of Capitalism/Socialism statements.  Caitlyn had labeled every one correctly.

            “This is great,” I said looking up smiling.  “She got them all right.”

            “Read what she wrote.”

            Under the statements Caitlyn’s round, fat cursive letters read:

            “Capitalism is a company owned by the government.  Everyone has to buy what they sell.  Socialism is a company like Facebook.  The government wants to buy this company because they are very powerful and they want to see what everyone is saying, but Facebook will not sell their Socialism company because they can tell people what the price is.  Capitalism is a good company, but my dad says their web site isn’t working.”

            Nailed it.

Friday, November 8, 2013


            “You know what the bad thing about Friday is?”

            I turned and looked at Leroy, our Science teacher.  We had hall duty and were standing by the student lockers in the middle of the end of the school day chaos.  The final bell had just rung.  Kids were milling around everywhere, pulling lockers open, stuffing backpacks, and jostling each other.   

            Teachers have to stand in the halls a lot.  The theory is that if we stand among them, the kids won’t misbehave as much.

            It cuts into a lot of my time.

            It’s irritating.

            But it works.  So I stand in the hall a lot.

            “Leroy is strange,” I thought.  “There is no bad thing about Fridays.”  But he had me curious.

            “OK,” I said taking the bait.  “What’s bad about Fridays?”

            Leroy’s face was thoughtful as he continued to scan the chaos.  “We have to go two days without the kids.”

            I narrowed my eyes and stared at him, waiting for a smile, but he was dead serious.

            “Yeah,” I deadpanned, “Two whole days.”

            Leroy studied the hall while I squinted at him, waiting for the smile that never came.  Suddenly he stepped out and announced, “Listen up!  Mrs. Jones says you need to get moving.  Let’s go.  You’ll miss your buses.”

            “Hey!” I called, “I never . . . ”

            “And Mrs. Jones is an excellent teacher,” Leroy added, “So let’s obey her.”

Friday, November 1, 2013

Trick or Treaters

            At 6:30 Thursday night I saw my first Trick or Treater through the glass storm door.  She was about three feet tall and had blond curls.  She was wearing a pink frothy princess dress and had pink wings attached to her shoulders.  Her dad rang the doorbell then stepped down a few steps so only his little girl was on the top stoop when I looked out. 

            “Hi there!” I said pushing the storm door open.

            The pink princess stared past me into my living room.  I think she wanted to come in.  I dropped a Twix and a Hershey bar into her orange plastic pumpkin, waved to her dad, and stepped back inside. The princess continued to stare into the house through the glass storm door, so I waved at her again.  After a few minutes dad stepped up and carried her down the stairs.

            At 7:30 as I plopped Twixes into five different bags, a small voice interrupted me.

            “Could you give me a Hershey bar instead?”

            I stopped and looked at the Court Jester requesting a different candy bar.


            “I have braces and my dentist doesn’t like me eating Twixes,” he explained.

            But your dentist is fine with Hersheys?

            At 8:45 I decided to close up for the night.  I was getting ready to shut the porch light off and close the main door when I saw three taller kids walking up my driveway.  As they came closer, I could see they were all girls.  One was looking down at her phone and tapping with both thumbs.

            I picked up the bowl of candy. They would be the last for the night, and I planned to empty the bowl into their bags.  They would love and honor me.

            I stood with my bowl and waited.  Miss Two-Thumbs Texter paused at the bottom of the steps and bent her head lower. Serious texting going on.

            I waited.  And waited some more. 

            Her friends looked up at me in the lighted doorway.  They walked up one step, looked back at her, and stopped.  She was clearly the alpha Trick or Treater.

            Four of us waited, watching.  The Trick or Treater Texter paused a moment and walked up the five steps to the door.  I pushed it open and leaned out with my bowl of candy bars.

            “Hi guys!”

            She held up her hand to silence me and bent back to her texting.  We all waited again.  After 20 seconds her thumbs paused.  She held out her pillowcase, but kept her eyes on her phone. 

            I stood for five seconds looking back at her then picked up three small Twixes and put one in each of their pillowcases.   Alpha girl’s thumbs resumed tapping.

            She was still on the stoop texting as I stepped back inside, shut the door, and turned off the light, leaving her in the dark.

            I looked out this morning, expecting to see her still there, tapping away with her thumbs, but the front stoop was empty. 

            It’s her fault I ate the rest of the candy.