The Bad Teacher: or How I Locked Seigi in my Classroom and Left for the Weekend without a Second Thought for his Well-being

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It was a Friday.

A long Friday.

We were all worn.

Who knows what had been going on in high school that week but obviously it had been one drama too many for all of us:

A broken heart.

A poor score on the SATs.

A confiscated phone.

A confiscated blunt.

Whatever it was, 6th period was spent and so… I did what any experienced teacher would do when the entire class arrives, flops into empty chairs, and each head drops into cradled arms where they lie listless and limpsy:

I put on the Simpsons and let them watch cartoons until the end of the period.

You cannot imagine the joy I find in watching my sixteen and seventeen-year-old students revert back into grade-school babies.

They giggle at the screen.

They drool on their arms as they smile sleepily and watch Bart and Homer and Lisa and Marge.

They parrot the dialogue.

They snack on goldfish crackers and jelly bellies, as they glance at each other with conspiratory glee, pleased in knowing that our class is having a secret afternoon nap break.

I always feel like Patton in these moments… bonding with my troops… knowing that because I have given them this delicious moment of relief from the war that is high school, they will trust in my future leadership, accept my push towards greatness as we study Whitman and Dickinson and will be my loyal educational soldiers forever.

I sat behind my desk, happy in the cool calm of the dark classroom, drinking my ice tea, grading essays by the computer light, the soundtrack of the Simpsons punctuating the quiet of the room, my babes soothed and content: I tell you… it was lovely.

Seigi, my senior classroom aide, had scored the prime spot on the back couch: the back couch which was coveted by many of my students.

It was the cool place to hang… the best place to sleep if you had a sport’s meet in the afternoon and needed a bit of a break before you were required to swim a 50-meter fly, or a grueling scrimmage on the field or in the pool, or before a 5-mile roundtrip run through El Dorado park and back.

It was against the far wall, hidden by a row of old covered wooden desks, but if you laid out flat on it, and looked underneath the desktops, you had the perfect, comfortable, vantage point, for viewing the large movie screen where my LCD projected.

Nobody questioned Seigi’s dibs on the couch that day. Being that he had senority, top man of the class, no one fussed, the caste system of high school finite… the pecking order… unchallenged… and so, Seigi sauntered over, stretched out, face down on the black sofa cushions, and settled in to watch the show as he faded in-and-out of consciousness.

The ninety-minute class period seemed but a moment and when the bell rang, there was hardly a child that made a move towards the door. Happy, tired and content, they preferred to stay put as the cartoons continued to run until I said quietly, “Time to go people,” unwilling really to send them out into the world but knowing I must do so.

After a moment or two of hushed fussing and shuffling, they grabbed their gear, quietly headed out the door without even turning on a light, barely a “Bye Ms. Wood have a good weekend” before leaving me alone in the dark.

I sat for a moment longer before I forced myself to rise, shutting down my computer, making my way through the dim light towards the door, where I locked it, gave the handle a quick security shake, before walking slowly to my car and going home.

I was so glad it was the weekend.

I showered.

Put on my pajamas.

And laid down on my bed to watch mindless TV and flip through magazines until bedtime.

I was completely oblivious to my mistake.

I was completely confident that I had done everything right in my classroom that day.

However, I believe Seigi would beg to differ.

About seven that evening, Seigi woke up.

No… not from a nap at home… not from the comfort of his own bed… but from his nap in my classroom.

He woke up to a pitch black room… in fact the bungalow so dark at night that the darkness is palpable… suffocatingly close to your face.

Now imagine that just a few weeks prior to this event. Ms. Wood had taught you about the horrors of Poe… had shared the film El Orfanato with you… had scared you to death with the Poe-esque elements in this foreign film where a haunted Victorian orphanage holds mysteries of the past, and creepy little orphan ghost children run about from room-to-darkened-room scaring you repeatedly through each cinematic moment.

I tell you… it terrifies even me and this… was Seigi’s nightmare.

From what I gathered over the course of several weeks and numerous renditions of his guilt-inducing retellings to each and every child who would stop and listen… it was beyond horrific.

Seigi had woken, become completely disoriented, sat up screaming then tried to run out of the room, sure that a creepy little ghost orphan was about to grab him, but was physically assaulted by first, the old wooden block of desks, then… a row of metal and formica desks that stood strong behind the front line that held him back.

He tried to move forward but imagined tiny little creepy hands grabbing at him from every direction.

He lost his mind.

He panicked.

Screamed.

Tried to jump over the desks and somehow hurl himself to safety but caught his foot on a metal leg, fell to the floor, wreathing in mental and physical pain, where he then crawled across the back of the classroom, hands pressed firmly down on the dirty linoleum, until he bumped into the far wall, reached up for the door handle, pulled the metal latch down and rolled out onto the landing and laid panting heavily on the dirty anti-slip covering, shell-shocked and crying… stunned and out of breath.

My phone rang at exactly 7:03 pm.

I didn’t even look at it.

I ignored the call to duty believing that I had lead all of my soldiers to safety and had not lost a man that day.

I was wrong.

So very wrong.

At 7:45 my curiosity got the better of me and so, as I stood looking in the bathroom mirror, slathering my face with my favorite Vitamin C cream, my phone laying next to me. I reached down, pressed the hands-free setting and waited to hear the message that I had missed.

At first, there was a loud commotion, as if someone had dropped their phone and was rushing to pick it up. I had no idea that it was Seigi rolling around on my bungalow landing. What followed was almost an incoherent babble before a rough, bark of a harsh whisper reached out and electronically slapped me with a verbal assault across my face:

“Fuck you Ms. Wood,” the voice snapped at me. “Do you hear me?” It repeated. “I said FUCK YOU.”

There was a loud thump and then a sudden click.

“DOH!” I shouted out.

A bright flash as if a camera click illuminated my brain: the couch, the dark, the SEIGI!

OH JESUS!

I looked around as if I could somehow do something right now to immediately lead my Seigi to safety.

Of course… I couldn’t.

I had failed at my command.

I had left a man behind.

I’d like to say that I called Seigi right away but I didn’t.

I knew what I was up against.

I knew what I would hear.

I knew what I would see when I returned to my room and this is what it was:

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Yes…  the thousand yard stare.

And not just the unfocused gaze of my battle-weary soldier but behind that gaze a look of complete disgust for his commanding officer.

I knew that I would have to bear Seigi’s wrath for weeks to come but to be honest, it was hard to look remorseful each time he told the story when really the image of  him running blindly through my room, his imagination a battlefield of blockades and creepy orphans, amused me terribly with each retelling.

And today, Seigi and I share a camaraderie over this story, a joy in the shared brotherhood of our bond. Forever locked together in time… even though as a commander I failed miserably and left my man behind.

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Corey Hale Becomes Confused After Experiencing an Overly Sexy Hug from Mrs. Wood

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Corey Hale copy

Well it was bound to happen.

Sooner or later I knew that I would cause some type of confusion in a young man’s life.

And so it goes…

Corey Hale: former student, friend and band mate of my 23-year-old son, amp wizard, and all around good kid.

I had forgotten about the “overly sexy”  hug that had sent him reeling for many months but last night as we all sat around at Sam’s Seafood, enjoying Kallie’s 23rd birthday party, the story came out.

I had just been lamenting the fact to my boyfriend, Stephen, and my dear friend Margie, that I was “dry” and didn’t have a Saturday story to tell, when Corey popped up, plied with cheap beer and a shot of Wild Turkey, his new girlfriend in tow, and said, “Mrs. Wood, do you remember when you gave me that overly sexy hug and then got really angry with me because I told Dylan about it?”

Stephen’s eyes widened… so did Margie’s before she said,  “Well there you go. Your Saturday story. See how the Universe aligns?”

I turned around and looked at him.

He was clutching his girlfriend’s hand tightly, she was a tiny little sweet thing and I could only imagine what she was thinking: I was the spitting image of Joan from Mad Men last night. A brick shit house in a tight white wiggle dress… dark red lips… high peep toe pumps.

I had become Mrs. Robinson and hadn’t even realized it.

I wasn’t sure where his story was going to go… but…. I am always willing to call myself out publicly and so… I joined in and hoped he would continue.

“I wasn’t angry at you.” I said.  “Just surprised you were such a kiss and tell!”

“I was confused!” he shouted. “Dylan and I were just about to go on stage. We were loading in out front of Di Piazza’s. You had just finished playing. I was in awe of you and it was like my first show ever and then you gave me the overly sexy hug.”

Stephen smiled at him, “Do you remember any of your set that night?”

“NO!” Corey said. “I was confused. The overly sexy hug confused me. I kept wondering. Did Dylan’s mom mean to give me the overly sexy hug? Was I really supposed to be the recipient of the overly sexy hug? Was I just imagining the overly sexy hug?”

Here he paused and looked to his girlfriend for assistance: She was no help.

“I don’t know what you’re complaining about,” she said. “Mrs. Wood is hot.”

This only made things worse.

I felt my shoulders tighten and I couldn’t bring myself to look at Stephen or Margie.

Corey began to sweat freely.

You could see his shiny little face… embarrassed, as if admitting in a confessional, that he had “feelings” for his friend’s mother: inappropriate feelings.

It was hard not to chide him and really fuck him up for life but I was reeling now myself and so… I sat quiet.

He reached up and wiped the sweat from his brow.

“Corey,” Stephen asked. “Can you show us the overly sexy hug?”

Corey put down his drink.

Excited to replay the moment.

He had his girlfriend stand up on a step so that she could portray his height accurately while he would play me.

He grabbed her roughly, took both hands and pulled her hips in towards his until they were both touching. Then, he kicked up one of his heels in a cutesy position and arched his back and pretended to press his make-believe giant boobs forward.

Oh my God… I thought to myself. Jesus…. I’m surprised he hadn’t passed out on the street when it happened.”

Stephen was really enjoying the moment: I of course was squirming.

I wiped my own sweaty brow and pretended to examine my fingernails.

I took a long sip off of my Coke and rolled my eyes at Stephen.

“Yep,” Stephen said. “That’s an overly sexy hug.”

“RIGHT?” Corey said directly to him. Happy to have a champion on his side.

At this time Corey’s girlfriend left to get a soda and I turned to face Corey head on.

“Corey,” I asked feeling defensive for my behavior. “Are you saying that my hug confused you all of this time? That it was a negative experience for you?”

He looked at me stunned.

“Are you kidding? No way. I was confused in a good way for months.” He looked at Stephen and then added, “Months and months” a big happy smile plastered across his baby face.

I felt my own face flush.

Stephen nodded his head, lifting his beer toward me, in a silent toast to my brazen behavior.

He loved it.

Happy in the knowledge that I was Corey’s Mrs. Malone: Stephen’s hot high school teacher who he was still crushing on after all of these years. She was probably close to seventy by now but to Stephen, she would always be thirty-five, in a tight black pencil skirt, white silk blouse, small sprinkle of light freckles across the bridge of her nose, and a large luscious mouth.

“It was great,” Corey said. Before he bounced off to find his girlfriend.

Stephen leaned in close to me and whispered, “Mrs. Robinson. You’re trying to seduce me now aren’t you?”

“Oh shut the fuck up Stephen,” I snapped.

He giggled like a school boy as I watched Corey wave and smile at me from the bar… to be forever happily confused over the overly sexy hug.

While I considered the possibility of a breast reduction and a life time of wearing, no make-up, my hair pulled back in a small tight bun, a moo-moo and some nice orthopedic shoes.

Ms. Wood has an Affair: The Lemon Lush Pie Incident

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Lemon Lush

I didn’t mean for it to happen.

I swear… I really didn’t… but then again… isn’t that what everyone says?

I couldn’t control myself?

I was overwhelmed with passion?

I was in love with a feeling?

I thought it would be just a one night stand… a fling really.

But it wasn’t….

Me sitting secluded in the dark booth…

My new lover, Lemon Lush Pie from Jongewaard’s Bake n Broil sitting seductively in front of me.

Oh… how he lured me in…

His intoxicating smell…

His handsome exterior…

He was the perfect combination: sweet, rich, complicated in his multiple layers.

Any woman would have fallen for his magnetic pull.

One bite… and I was overwhelmed.

I tried to act coy… pretend I wasn’t that interested… and so I pushed him away and waited a week before I returned.

And when I arrived… he was excited to see me.

All spruced up on his little blue plate… just waiting in anticipation for the moment when we would be together again.

I didn’t hesitate.

I jumped right in.

And by the time I was done I was spent… satisfied.

I believed that my craving for him had been quenched but I was a fool…

I had no idea what power he had over me.

Soon, I was obsessed.

I began to talk about him often.

I found numerous ways to bring him up in almost any conversation.

Any excuse to focus on my crush:

“Hey Ms. Wood, did you hear about that incident in North Korea?

“Oh yes,” I would reply. “By the way… did you know that they don’t have Lemon Lush pie in North Korea? I think we should go have some just to celebrate that fact.”

Soon… I was dragging others along with me.

They had no idea how serious it was.

They thought we were just friends.

They thought it was just casual.

And like any good addict I hid my addiction.

I kept my distance at the table.

I never licked my fingers in public or acted as if my heart raced whenever I was near him.

I made sure not to stare at him for too long or give him an overly flirty look.

I played it all off… and I was good… really good…until the real lying began.

I would come up with any excuse… any reason… to get away and be with my crush.

“Hey D.D.” Stephen my boyfriend would say, “I’ve gotta pick something up at Home Depot do you want to…”

“Oh! I’ll go for you,” I would shout, knowing that Bake n Broil was less than a mile from the hardware store.

“Are you sure?” Stephen would question… his innocent gaze completely unsuspecting.

“Sure,” I would say overly cheerful.

And when I returned… sated once again… sugar still on my lips… he had no idea of my indiscretion.

But after months of lying… I began to feel horrible.

How could I do this to my man?

Hadn’t he always been so good to me?

Extreme guilt washed over me each time I looked into Stephen’s sweet, naive face.

I watched as he stayed steadfast… his trust in me secure… while he ate his diet lunches and dinners sure in his knowledge that we were in a mutually exclusive relationship comprised of trust and love.

But it still didn’t stop me.

I had to have Lemon Lush at any cost.

Soon, I began bringing him home.

I had him in my office.

In my bathtub.

In my bed.

He was amazing.

And each time we were together… the risk seemed worth it.

Even when I heard the dogs bark…

the gate latch lift…

the front door swing open…

I rushed to finish before I was caught ecstatic that once again… I had my way.

But like any affair… the outcome always ends in tears and so… on one particular Friday when I believed Stephen to be fast at work in his office in Anaheim, I sat in my bed, fork in hand, an entire pie tin of Lemon Lush pressed close to my face, and looked up to find that Stephen had quietly come down the hallway and was now standing at my bedroom door, shocked… stunned…. expression full of pain.

“All this time?” He said, his voice breaking on the last word.

I stared at him… caught mid-act I didn’t know what to say.

Lemon Lush had no time to hide and I had no time to clean myself up.

“How could you do it?” He asked. “D.D. How could you do it?”

I sat silent.

Mute in my guilt, as Stephen slowly turned and headed off down the hallway and out the front door.

We sat there… Lemon Lush and I… unwilling to go on… ashamed of our behavior.

I gathered his things and escorted him to the trash bin.

I could see that he was hurt but I knew… it was Lemon Lush or Stephen… and Stephen was my true love.

I would have to make an amends to Stephen and give Lemon Lush up forever.

I left him at the curb and rushed to find my keys so that I could go find Stephen and apologize for my indiscretion.

I found him… sitting on his front stoop.

Sad face.

Head down.

Eating a tin of Sardines.

Glass of water by his side.

I walked up hang-dogged and sat beside him.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “It won’t ever happen again.”

“Oh I know it won’t,” Stephen said. ” There’s consequences to your actions.”

He tipped his head, motioning behind him, where I saw the Weight Watchers Digital Scale looming in the background.

“Go ahead,” he said as he ate his last sardine.

I stood up, I knew what I had to do. I stepped on the scale gingerly.

“All the way,” Stephen said sternly.

I watched as the scale went up twenty pounds higher than it had read four months ago when the affair began.

I gasped in shock.

“I could have told you that guy wasn’t good for you,” Stephen said smugly as he moved on to his hard-boiled egg… a small snarky smirk on his face… knowing the painful months that lay before me.

Diet.

Exercise.

And the day-to-day painful longing for my lost love: Lemon Lush.

Stapling my Thumb Clean Through with an Industrial Strength Stapler: Or.. How I Terrified Two Young and Idealistic Student Teachers and Almost Lost my Bad-Ass Reputation Forever

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OS stapler

I’m a tough broad but… even now, as an experienced teacher… there are two tools I seriously hate: the industrial paper cutter and the industrial electric stapler.

Both can cause a chill of terror in even the most seasoned educator’s soul and we have, in our profession, become accustom to wearing our battle scars from each of these work weapons, as a right of passage: If you haven’t lost a thumb or almost lost a thumb in a paper cutter or a stapler accident… then you basically don’t know jack shit about teaching.

Now as a “scrub” in the first few years of my career, I had almost lost my thumb several times:

Of course… the paper cutter incident…

The X-acto knife fiasco…

The uncovered razor on the helium balloon tank episode.

Yeah… those were good times.

But they gave me a sort of notoriety… an O.G. quality with the more experienced teachers.

It was as if I had been jumped into a gang very early on…

You see that teacher over there?

They seemed to whisper in the staff lounge.

That’s Wood. She’s already lost that thumb almost three times. She’s got what it takes.

It was hard not to cross my arms, throw up my fingers and sign an M and a W for Ms. Wood, tip my chin up in a “What’s up?” manner and swagger my way out the door.

I had proven I was tough.

Yeah… tough.

Now, it was an unwritten code that even if you were deathly afraid of the cutter or the stapler… you acted “cool” about it… yes “cool” if you had an incident.

That even when you told the story as a cautionary tale, or a fun anecdote over a tuna sandwich in the staff lounge, you made yourself look like you knew what you were doing all along.. that it was some simple malfunction or someone else’s fuck up that caused you to be maimed: You never let on that you lost your shit:

You locked that shit down.

And why?

Because it was very important to convey your mysterious authoritative exterior to the younger, newer baby teachers so that they would always be in awe of you and therefore, your little minions for years to come.

And so the years passed… many other incidents followed… until my reputation grew into one of legendary proportions and even the newest baby teachers would whisper:

See that teacher over there? That’s Wood. I heard she almost lost a whole hand in a paper cutter. Oh… and chased down and captured those two armed robbers who ripped off the credit union, by cornering them in the alley with her mini-van. I wouldn’t even try to talk to her until you have like five years under your belt.

Yeah.

It was beautiful until the industrial stapler incident: the day I almost lost my solid reputation as a bad-ass forever.

I was feeling good that day.

The state had given us money for a workroom and we had converted a bungalow into a staff area with the best of the new teacher technology:

The poster size paper cutter that dwarfed our standard sized one: where a thumb, index, and middle finger had all been hacked off simultaneously in a violent lunch time assault.

The laminating machine: a third degree burn always waiting to happen.

The 3635MPX Xerox machine… Oh yeah… class sets of collated documents in a matter of seconds but don’t catch your tie in that feed.

And of course: the new electric industrial strength stapler, with the heavy duty Stanley staples thick one-inch length, that could handle a 200-page packet and drive that staple in so hard it would never come out.

Nice.

So I rolled on into the new workroom, to pick-up my class set of reading packets that Judy Hogan, our supply purchaser, had kindly xeroxed for me and at the break table, I saw two brand-new student teachers sitting there meekly eating their lunch and I wondered what the hell they were doing.

“Too scared to brave the staff lounge,” Judy whispered as she handed me my packets. “I took pity on them.”

I shook my head in disgust.

“These still need to be stapled,” she said before getting back to her own paperwork.

I carried the stack over to the counter and began to run the packets through the industrial stapler.

I fell into a steady rhythm: the electric staple hitting a hard THWACK each time a packet was completed.

I was moving fast… really flying.

The beat was so steady and so quick that I was actually singing “Baby Love” by the Supremes.

I was just about on my last packet, totally in the zone, happy that I would still have time for lunch, when I heard a, “What the heck is she singing” from one of the newbies at the table behind me.

I turned around to give her a snarky lecture on her lack of musical knowledge and what songs work best to keep a beat with the xerox machine and the electric stapler, so that you don’t lose your mind in monotony, when… there was a loud sickening SMACK, the stapler jammed, and my body was rocked by an excruciating pain.

Judy stopped, startled, and looked towards me.

“Oh my God,” I heard her whisper.

I was afraid to turn around.

I looked back slowly to find that I had just stapled my thumb all the way through the nail, out the other side, and that the staple: the thick one-inch industrial staple, had folded neatly on the fleshy side of my thumb and stapled it clean.

I held it up and stared at it in horror as the intense pain registered throughout my entire body.

“MOTHER FUCKER!” I screamed.

The newbies were beyond alarmed… terrified to move… they stared at me in horror.

MOTHER FUCKING SHIT! I screamed again.

Judy’s eyes grew large. She looked at the newbies: One now with her head folded down into her hands… her soup and crustless peanut butter sandwich left bare to the world. The other… her hands over her ears, her eyes focused on Judy, begging her silently to, Make that woman stop! As she winced at my use of profanity.

This infuriated me.

“FUCK!” I screamed right in her face, “FUCK!” I shrieked as I ran about the room.

Judy ran to her desk, always ready for a workroom emergency, and grabbed something from her drawer.

I stopped, looked at her with suspicion, and like a rabid animal, began to back into the corner.

“D.D.” she whispered. “Give me your hand.”

“BACK THE FUCK AWAY JUDY!” I snarled and hissed.

“D.D.” she whispered again as she crept quietly towards me. “Give me your God damn hand now.”

“No!” I shouted.

I heard one of the newbies whine.

“Shut the fuck up!” I screeched.

Judy’s mouth made a small shocked “Oooooh.”

I was breaking the cardinal rule of teaching: DON’T LOSE YOUR SHIT IN FRONT OF THE NEWBIES.

I looked at my thumb again.

I thought I was gonna be sick.

I felt the room swimming and my thumb throbbing.

“D.D.” she said sternly. “Now.”‘

I moaned as I laid my hand gingerly in Judy’s palm.

“This is gonna hurt,” she said as she held up a pair of pliers, and snatched my wrist tightly as she pried the ends of the staple to a straight up position before I had time to react.

My eyes welled up in tears.

“Judas!” I cried and then the pain registered and I howled loudly.

“Knock it off,” she said before putting the pliers back in her drawer.

I calmed down for a moment… gathered myself together… and looked at the staple with interest:

It now looked like my thumb had fangs.

I looked up again and saw Judy with a black staple remover in her hand.

She was chomping it at me… trying to be funny… like a mom trying to coerce her kid into trusting a doctor with a needle: It didn’t work.

NO! I shrieked again. “No JUDY! NO!”

I ran across the room, Judy laughing now, chasing me about with the staple remover clicking until she grew tired of the game and stopped.

“God damn it D.D.” she shouted. “Get it over with. Pull that fucker out.”

I gave her a dirty look, grabbed the staple remover from her hand, and dug it into the top of my nail fast, pushed it down, and pulled that staple out with a hard tug.

The pain was right up there with childbirth and divorce: physically excruciating while emotionally… I was ready to kill someone.

I screamed again: a guttural scream of anger, as I threw the staple remover and the offending staple hard against the counter, before picking up the electric industrial stapler, ripping it’s cord from the wall, and chucking it as hard as I could against the large purple recycling bin.

We all looked at it: lying on the ground broken and mute.

“Fucker,” I said to my electronic enemy. The newbies gasped behind me.

Judy and I both turned around and as I came to my senses, I realized I had just lost my cool points in front of these teaching neophytes.

I felt like a failure.

I felt like my O.G. status was about to be removed in a unanimous vote in the staff lounge later that afternoon.

It sucked.

But right them, Mr. Ferguson, my own junior high school teacher, now over forty years of experience in the business, walked into the room, saw all of us locked in pose, immediately assessed the situation after a glimpse of my bloody stump of a thumb, the expressions on the babies faces and the stapler lying broken on the floor.

“Jesus!” He screeched. He pointed at my thumb. “Is that from the stapler?”

“Yeah,” I said quietly.

“I knew something was wrong with that thing the other day. I knew it wasn’t working right.”

I looked at him in pleased shock. Even in my pain it was hard not to smile at his gift of camaraderie.

“Man,” He shook his head. “That must of hurt like hell. I wouldn’t have been able to lock that shit down. No way.”

He gave me a head nod of respect before turning to the newbies and saying, “You best not use that stapler. If that took Ms. Wood down, you’d never be able to handle the pain. That woman is tough.”

Judy put the tools back in her drawer and slammed it shut, went back to her paperwork and went back to ignoring the newbies.

Mr. Ferguson went about making his math packets for his Algebra class…

and I gave the student teachers a look like, That’s right… even Mr. F with forty-years in the system would have lost it to” before I grabbed my packets, in one arm, bloody stump of a thumb raised up in the air, and kicked the door open with my foot, reputation, Thank God, still intact.

My thumb?

Not so much.