Friday, February 18, 2011

Shopping With the Vengeful Teacher Betty

Recently I wrote a post about my actions as a teacher which had everyone telling me what I good person I was. In the interest of true honesty, I bring out this former post which reveals my other side.



Betty loves her students.

Well, OK, not all of them.

There are those who come to Betty's class, not seeking essential information about comma splices and fragments, but come merely bent on making Betty's life miserable by talking incessantly to their friends. Normally, Betty can squash this behavior like an old grape, but there was one student, many years ago whose talking nearly drove me crazy.

You see, it wasn't talking talking--the kind you can hear, distinguish words, and then repeat back to the student thereby letting him KNOW your hearing is akin to a bat's echolocation. I would be up there in front of class, giving essential information on writing well--the key that will unlock all the blessings of our modern society--and I would hear it: the low, steady, continuous buzzing of verbiage from his area. His lips barely moved and when I looked his way the buzzing stopped momentarily and then started again when I resumed my lecture.

I spoke to him over and over again about his behavior, putting on my best teacher look and tone. Bored and passive, he stared at me, obviously perturbed that I had come back to interrupt his important conversations. I continued to remind him to be quiet. He continued to ignore me. I bought power suits and wore them, in ascending austerity throughout the semester.

However, nothing stopped this verbal incontinence on his part--the slow steady leaking of whatever words he had stored up in his bladder-like cheeks. Akin to a Poe story, it went on and on, slowly driving me out of my mind. Near the end of the semester, he began to deny that he was doing it. Oh, but he was! I heard it, heard it, heard it, the low rumble, the burbling burning my ears. One day I heard it--the saw-like sound of his whispered buzzing. It reached my ears and rang there with its undertone of insubordination. I spun around in class to have my usual stare down with him, but he was not there! I looked around; he was gone. His friends said he had gone to the restroom. It was true, he was not physically in the room, but the sound remained, remained staining the very fabric of the air like bloodstains on the collar of the bridal gown of the doomed.

He made it through the semester--or I should say I made it through the semester and blessed each and every footstep he took as he exited the classroom for the final time.

(Change of mental music here: Go from loud, dramatic organ music to light Muzak, say, for instance, "The Girl from Impanema.")

NINE YEARS LATER:
HOB, my friend K, and I are all at the boxy, modern electronic store where all the employees dress like Mormon missionaries and practically embrace you as you enter the store. Friend K is getting her computer fixed and we have about an hour to kill in the store. We play with the massage chairs, and we go flip all the dials on all the cameras and camcorders. We cruise the aisles, each bearing a framed picture of an employee of the store, smiling, with the caption "This aisle proudly maintained by:" followed by the name of the employee.

In an attempt to continue to entertain ourselves, K and I head to the kitchen appliances aisle to make fun of the hot dog makers and green plastic margarita machines. Passing by one of the 97 cash registers, I stopped short. There he was! My nemesis! The low-talking pest from my class oh so long ago. He was dressed in the cult-like garb of the corporation.

Now, I am not a vengeful person. Well, not unless my blood sugar is low or you have a history of sitting in my class talking without end to your maladjusted friend behind you. He had made my workplace environment uncomfortable for me. He had raised my hostility levels. I have sat through enough employee training videos to know that this is considered some kind of harassment and since I don't see another avenue of recourse, I am thinking I have some sort of right to make his workplace environment a tad bit uncomfortable for him.

I pull K aside and tell her the story. Then I tell her my plan. I am going to find his aisle--the one proudly maintained by this ne'er-do-well and I am going to mess with it. K is a little appalled, but, good friend she is, agrees to at least help me find his aisle.

We find HOB who is a good person and wants nothing to do with this plan. He even says, "This is wrong on so many levels." He tries to convince me not to carry out my evil plan but just seeing that face--the face of the low-talking agent of evil-- again has ignited in me a vengeance that is running rampant through my veins.

We leave HOB behind as we look through the aisles, searching for The Face. We look computer component aisles, but none of the faces match up. We search the radio and TV aisles and I am secretly hoping he is not in charge of those--too heavy, too many cords; we'd have to really work hard switching them all around and the effect would be somewhat minimal. I'm not afraid of the work, but I want the payout to be magnificent. We search the computer game aisles--still no match, but I view with delight all the boxes, now lined up in neat displays, alphabetically arranged. Then, I grab K's arm and say with renewed fervor, "Let's check the CD and DVD aisles!"

Now, by this time, K is starting to lose interest, but my imagination is on the Tilt-a-Whirl at the Vengeance Carnival. All those hundreds and hundreds of titles, alphabetically arranged, all those thin little boxes, all the categories. Just think: "I Love Lucy" ends up in Horror. "Nightmare on Elm Street" ends up next to "Sesame Street." The boxes, all turned upside down, sideways, out of alphabetical order. I run to the aisle and scan for The Face. I whisper to the Gods of All that is Wrong but Feels so Right, "Just give me this..."

Alas. This aisle is NOT proudly maintained by my sworn foe, but instead by a sad-looking nymph.*

By this time HOB has caught up with us and as he gently pries my fingers off the shelf I am now gripping as if I am experiencing a Moro reflex, he suggests we go and get a "good meal."

I agree, but vow to return to complete my life's mission.


Well, a meal of a Subway Veggie Max sandwich, Doritos, and a large Diet Pepsi pretty much has magical powers over me. I told K and HOB that had come to my senses and agreed to be a mature adult and forget and forgive.

They both nodded and smiled, proud of my growth as a person and my capacity to embrace life and let go of past hurts.

(I think I can cover more ground in the store next time I go without those two to drag me down, and as far as I could tell, they couldn't even hear that sound, that low, murmured string of sound, I heard, heard, heard throughout the store!)



*(In this case, we go to definition #4)
1. one of a numerous class of lesser deities of mythology, conceived of as beautiful maidens inhabiting the sea, rivers, woods, trees, mountains, meadows, etc., and frequently mentioned as attending a superior deity.
2. a beautiful or graceful young woman.
3. a maiden.
4. the young of an insect that undergoes incomplete metamorphosis.

53 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Somehow I knew you wouldn't give up that easily!

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

Revenge is a dish best served cold. Betty will get him next time.

Catherine said...

You are a funny funny girl ~ and you tell a good story!!!

Happy Weekend Betty!
xo Catherine

Daisy said...

Oh, Betty, you make me laugh so! :D
Telling us this tale has only made me love you more. Makes me wish I could come and help you when you go back to that store! HA HA HA!

Madi and Mom said...

BB well my eyes are leaking with tears of glee, my sides hurt and my mascara is running but OH MY WORD it was worth it. You are the modern day Erma Bombeck!!!
Thank you for starting my day off with laughter.
Hugs Madi and Mom

Jennifer Shirk said...

That's hilarious. It must have been really BAD to still be annoyed after nine years. LOL

floweringmama said...

Oh Betty you began my day with a smile! I know I'm getting old when I turn and glare at the other students and give them the "mom look" silently demanding them to stop that overbearing murmuring.

Jules said...

LOL, this was a great story to start the day with :)

Buzz, buzz... Have a great weekend!
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Linda said...

You weave a good story, Betty. You have such a way of describing people and events that you draw your reader right into the tale. I do hope you locate your nemesis some day. By now, he may be of an age and maturity where he has experienced similar frustrations as those he caused you, and you might even find him to be contrite and sympathetic. One can dream anyway.

Out on the prairie said...

With college classes I enjoyed my fifty cent method. You place two quarters on the desk and tell them to call their parents and tell them they don't want to be part of higher learning.He could have joined the electronics cult without any more education, just his gift for gab.

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

I always knew you were a forgiving person. That's nice:)

Leah J. Utas said...

Oh my. I do wonder why you were so blessed to hear him.

Zuzana said...

You are a great storyteller.;)I guess we all have a dark side, but on the other hand, you did not give into it.;) And we can not like or be liked by everyone, teacher or not.;)
Have a lovely weekend,
xoxo

Flartus said...

Aw, man, I am SO disappointed you didn't get your revenge! I mean, I...no, really, I was looking forward to a clever way of winning that battle.

Ok, next time find some kind of expired online discount, or bring in a flier from another store and stop up his cash register line by making a scene...don't demand to speak to the manager for at least 10 minutes.

Have I ever mentioned I've had frequent nightmares of being in front of a class full of uncontrollable, unresponsive talkers?

Teresa Evangeline said...

Funny, funny stuff. What a great way to start the day, reading this story. I was a HS English teacher once upon a time. I could relate. You have some great sentences here, a true LOL.

Teresa Evangeline said...

I have to add: I Love your definition #4.

Donna said...

OMG!!!! I am ROLLING here!
I know it was painful for You BUT...I needed a good laugh today.
I am Totally with you Girl...Go Get 'em!
(((hug)))

Sara said...

Hahaahaaaaa! For the record, I would gladly help you cause a little mayhem, and I'm fabulous at covering ground quickly with my eagle-eye vision and fast walk. (Also, Diet Pepsi is fairly magical, I couldn't agree more.)

Old Kitty said...

Oh BB!!!! LOL!!!! Revenge is sweet though isn't it??! My mature self says, let it go, it's over, move on but my vengeful fuming banshee witch side, says "destroy at all costs"!!!!!!!!
:-)

Take care
x

Baby Sister said...

That's cause Mormon missionaries are so amazingly dressed!!
This makes me laugh, and makes me wonder if any of my teachers ever had moments like this...

Mrs. Indecisive said...

haha that's awesome!!! Good story!

BTW, maybe if he had paid attention more, he wouldn't have been working there ;)

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I don't like taking revenge but ignore the people who upset me in any way.

Loved the read, so good to be back.

Yvonne.

Pat Tillett said...

Now that is a funny and great piece of writing!
"... the sound remained, remained staining the very fabric of the air like bloodstains on the collar of the bridal gown of the doomed."

You are amazing. I can't wait for more! I can actually, but I don't want to!

baygirl32 said...

what a great story! I still think you're awsome

Hilary said...

You tell a fine story, Betty. And I want to be your partner in crime.

Ami said...

Don't you think the fact that he's working in an electronics store and wearing a noose daily is enough revenge?

And remind me never to piss you off.

Mamma has spoken said...

Betty I'm surprise in you! I thought you would have gone up to the young man and rubbed it in, in an off handed sort of way, that he was working in such a store.

Lori said...

LOL...I would so love to be your partner in crime...sounds like I would like hanging out with you. :)

faye said...

I will drive the getaway car for
you anytime .. I am too
OCD to make a mess an scramble
the alphabetical order in the store.

Anne Gallagher said...

I hate to ask this, but because he doesn't have a picture, would that make him a manager?

But I will help you take revenge in whatever form you wish.

My student's name was David and he made fun of the way I dressed. Way back when, when I was Preppie.

Theresa Milstein said...

Oh dear. I completely understand your need to enact revenge against a former talking student. In fact, I may wind up doing something similar in a few years!

Happy weekend, Betty.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Take me with you next time, Betty. I'll be an asset to the cause. Revenge, not maturity, is called for.
xoRobyn

Ann said...

I'm betting that as much as I enjoyed this story, and I did, I'm going to enjoy the story you tell when you finally get your revenge. I'm sure it will be sweet.

Gigi said...

You are a much better woman than me - because not even the lure of a Subway sandwich with Doritos could have stopped me from that mission!

Marlene said...

You tell a story like no other!! I so enjoy reading your blog!

Anonymous said...

I will go with you, BB, to the store, track down the aisle, and MESS with it. I have not seen the same training videos you have, so I am clearly insensitive.
pg

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm a teacher too, Betty, go get him. LOL
Actually, I've seen so many of my students who were total, disruptive idiots in school grow up to be functioning, friendly human beings. Of course, I still hope I can retire before I have their children in school.

slommler said...

I am with Hilary...I will help too!! Just name the day!! Ha!
Hugs
SueAnn

Talli Roland said...

Bossy Betty! I love this story! As a former teacher, I know how much some students can get under your skin. I admire your ability to rise above it... eventually! :)

Shan said...

LOL, I loved this just as much the second time. I, for one, am glad if you have a small vengeful streak. Makes me feel less alone. :+)

Cheeseboy said...

Teachers UNITE. I am with you on this one. I would have done the exact same thing. I'm only sorry it backfired.

Lazarus said...

Very entertaining post, you have such a great way with words.

citymouse said...

I direct you to the lovely Miss Gillian Welch and her very apropos song, "Miss Ohio".

"Yeah, I wanna do right but not right now"

Check it out... you may have found your anthem.

Oh Sew Good said...

Bear with me...often, when we were homeschooling, my daughter would be asked "Why aren't you in school?" One of the responses we considered was "Oh, I'm working on getting a real education so I don't have to grow up and be just a sales clerk." We didn't but it sure was tempting. Believe me, I understand how you felt.

The Chicken's Consigliere said...

In case he hasn't yet been promoted to aisle maintenance, maybe you could put together some artfully penned "customer complaint" letters in a tiny, tiny font. Great story, Betty.

Betty Manousos @ CUT AND DRY said...

brilliant! such a delightful read.
revenge is sweet...isn't it?!

hope you have a great remainder of the weekend.

betty xx

Lin said...

Well, here's my theory....

He's already been punished.

See, because he talked through your class instead of listening and learning, he is going to be in charge of some pathetic aisle in some lame-ass store for the rest of his life. You don't have to get even with him--he's already done it to himself. He is a loser, plain and simple, Betty.

Dreamfarm Girl said...

The Tilt-A-Whirl at the Vengeance Carnival: perfecto!

Kazzy said...

You know I love your blog, but being a Mormon myself I have to take kind issue with "dressed like Mormon missionaries" being in the same post as "cult-like garb". That kind of hurt. My son is out serving a mission right now for my church, not my cult.

That said, as a teacher I can relate to your honesty about not connecting with every student. Sometimes I feel bad about it, but sometimes I realize some people just don't jive, ya know?

Leanne said...

Oh, betty . . . Oh, betty . . . the halo has tilted just a tad, to make room for the horns.

LOVE IT. Reminds me that you, too, are human. Great great story.

The Adorkable Ditz said...

XD BB That is hilarious! I can just see you in class having a bothered look on your face...

And I think I know what store you're talking about, the pictures on each aisle creep me out.

That story was all too funny. I'll make sure not to mumble in your class.

The Adorkable Ditz' Missteps

Gaston Studio said...

Great funny story Betty! And congrats on POTW!!

CherylK said...

How funny! Am going to forward this link to my daughter who is a writing coach at a middle school. She'll get a kick out of it for sure...and will probably relate, too.

Congratulations on POTW, too! A perfect choice.