All of us in the English Department loved our newest member, a young Irish-Mexican lad who was the age of most of our children and a natural teacher. Patrick was short, with dark curly hair and ruddy complexion. He was funny, quick, enthusiastic and full of the devil. Given those attributes, Pat was immediately embraced by students and teachers. We adored him.
We adored him, that is, until one Friday afternoon, when he walked into the office. The rest of us were all frantically grading papers, adding points and figuring out grades as our grade sheets were due the following Tuesday morning.
We each had 150 students, give or take. They each wrote a minimum of two essays per week in addition to the other assignments. We had to read, comment on and grade each essay. It was a time killer and made most of us re-think our chosen profession.
If we had it to do over again, we would have chosen a subject area with no essays, like math. Of course, then we’d actually have to understand math which most of us didn’t, as any waitress watching us figure out the tip and what each of us owed can attest to. That minor detail also made figuring out grades that much more challenging.
It probably goes without saying that the rest of the school gave English teachers a wide berth during any grading season.
I have an announcement. Pat stood at the door at the office looking extremely proud and pleased with himself.
We all looked up from our papers and grade books.
I just turned in all my grades! I am done! I am finished! I am great!
We just glared at him and scowled.
Good job, Patrick. Now go away.
It was the best begrudging praise for a first quarter teacher we could offer. He laughed at us, poor slobs, and took a victory lap around the office, poking fun at the stacks of essays yet to be read before breaking into a jig and laughing his way out of door and into a free weekend. We bunched up scrap paper and threw it at him.
Some of us have a slightly more wicked streak. I got up, walked over to the computer and put fingers to keyboard.
We have misplaced your grade sheets and need you to redo them. They are still due Tuesday morning.
The Vice Principal of Academics
It was a perfectly plausible note. Our academics administrator was notorious for his disorganization, sieve-like memory and general incompetence. A student aide delivered the memo to Patrick the following Monday morning.
By lunch on Monday, after a very long weekend of grading papers and figuring out grades, most of us were in the final throes of filling out the actual grade sheets while trying to grab a few bites before the bell rang for the next class.
Mid-lunch, Pat burst into the office at lunch, flushed red with anger and waving our message in the air.
That…that..moron…Patrick started ranting about our inept VP of Academics. The rest of us looked up. We couldn’t help smirking.
He stopped. He looked around. He immediately knew who had really written the note.
I should have known! I should have known!
Pat turned around, slamming the door behind him as he exited the office. We all looked at one another, wondering what in the world he could be doing. Seconds later, the door flew open.
How could I not have known!!
Pat grimaced in disbelief at his own gullibility. There wasn’t a misspelled word or grammatical error in the entire memo!!!