Just Another Day at the Office

By JOSEPH TINTLE

As a teacher, you never know what’s going to happen next in the classroom. One minute the students are on board with that day’s lesson, the next minute World War III is breaking out.

Case in point: Fourteen years ago I was about to begin an English class when I noticed a female student yank off her earrings, one by one. Now, even I knew in my first year of teaching that move meant a fight was imminent. So I scanned the room to see who her opponent might be. No, not her. Or her. Oh, that girl wouldn’t ever start a fight. One by one I ruled out possible opponents.

But I failed to see Katherine. She was sitting to the far right, just out of range of my vision. Only when I heard her slide her desk back to get up and fight did I turn to see her. Gotta think fast.

Imeda, the girl with the earrings, was 10 feet in front of me. Between she and Katherine was a rather large desk. I figured I’d walk to Imelda and get her to settle down, never expecting Katherine to do the unexpected. She leaped across the desk, pushed past me, and grabbed a chunk of Imelda’s hair. Suddenly I was looking at Katherine’s clenched fist tugging on 12 inches of long, straight dark brown hair — and tugging hard.

So I grabbed the center of the extended hair with the hope that I might keep Katherine from pulling out several strands. A moment or two passed, and the hair was slipping through my fist, and that’s when I heard a soft sound.

Pfft.

Katherine had succeeded in pulling out a few strands of Imelda’s hair and now they dangled lifelessly from my hand. I looked as if I had just scalped Imelda. The class screamed with delight.

Imelda recoiled for a moment, stunned.

At that point I was thinking one of the male students would come and help me. That’s when I learned that would never happen because boys love to watch girls fight. All I heard from the guys was their hard pounding of the desks and a chorus of “JERRY, JERRY, JERRY.” Yes, Jerry Springer would have been proud.

The loss of hair and the “JERRY” chants spurred on Imelda. She tried to leap on the desk to get at Katherine, but that’s when one of my students came to my assistance. A girl named Sheila wrapped her arms around Katherine and forced her to the side of the classroom, never letting go. I sensed she was talking Katherine down and that left me free to calm Imelda, to some extent, until one of our security guards came by and whisked her to the main office. A second guard later took Katherine. Afterward, I straightened my tie and vest, thanked Sheila, and resumed class.

Now, where was I?

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