Last day of the quarter today, and my seventh grade classes were working on story problems, because, well, they’re bad at them. I was talking to my second hour class and going over some of the more common errors first hour was making in an attempt to not explain the same exact things five thousand more times for the second class in a row. Unfortunately, some of the errors they were making were errors of volition and not of comprehension: to wit, the student who put dollar signs in front of every single answer when only two or three of the questions were involving money may have not been doing his very best on that assignment, and if you turn in a sheet of paper with 10 answers and not a single other pencil mark on it it is fairly likely that I’m going to suspect you may not have actually done the assignment.
So, yeah, I’m talking about all that. And in the process of having this conversation with the students, I point something out that is especially true today, when it’s the last day of the quarter and the assignment must be turned in on the day it is assigned: I would much rather have something turned in half-finished by someone who has clearly been working than a completed assignment from someone who, and I quote, “wrote down a bunch of random-ass nonsense for ten answers and turned it in.”
What did I just say?
The class is blinking at me. Did I just–
Yeah, I did.
Obviously the appropriate thing to do was to apologize and then watch as both I, my co-teacher, and the entire class collapse into laughter, because fuck it, it’s early in the morning on the last day of the quarter before a five-day break and, well, y’all, apparently Mr. Siler ain’t completely on his game today. So, yeah, I don’t usually swear, at least not accidentally, in front of my students, but apparently today my filter isn’t set quite as high as usual?
I shoulda had more caffeine during first hour, is the take-away here.
FIRST: I have been firmly on the Don’t Buy Me Anything train for Christmas for several years now, but this year my wife and I agreed to exchange one gift each. My wife won with this gift, which is an assortment of beard-grooming tools: a brush, which is gonna get used multiple times a day, beard-specific shampoo, which will get used as often as I need to use it, and beard balm and beard oil, which … well, we’ll see. This is actually just about the perfect Christmas gift, really– something that I would never have thought to buy for myself in a million years and would never have guessed that she’d gotten me in advance, but which I immediately realized upon receiving that it’s something I needed and am going to use all the time.
It is also a subtle dig at my hygiene, which a lesser person might choose to take as an insult but which I’m deciding I’m entertained by. 🙂
SECOND: My son received three different gifts that he already had. One was a set of Minecraft sheets, which both my wife and her sister bought him in a bit of a communications breakdown. Second was a Transformer. I’m kind of irritated about the Transformer; he got it because he brought it to me in the comic shop last week and announced that he wanted me to buy it. I reminded him that Christmas was in a couple of days and made him put it back, then immediately took it to the counter and asked them to hold onto it until I could come back without the boy and buy it. They did, and I did. The second he unwrapped it he announced he already had it and went and produced the original figure. Then he argued with me about whether he’d picked it out or not.
Like. Dude. Yes the fuck you did. That’s the only reason I bought the goddamn thing.
THIRD: Okay, maybe technically this is two-and-a-half anecdotes, but whatever. He also got one of these two tumbler cars from my mom and dad. He already had one of these, too, but he immediately decided he was excited about having two because now we can race them. So, OK. No problem there. The punchline: I’m pretty sure they alsobought him the original one.
My mom just called a few minutes ago. My dad was in their office looking for something. He found a third bright red Sharper Image tumbler car in the office while he was looking for whatever he was looking for.
Apparently Mom and Dad really want my kid to have this toy.
No one was quite sure how it was that we didn’t have marshmallows, but we didn’t have marshmallows. And you cannot make Heavenly Salad without fuckin’ marshmallows. The ingredients: Grapes. Pineapple. Juice from same. Heavy cream. Milk. Lemon juice. Sugar. And marshmallows. They’re kinda important. And we didn’t have any.
At 8:4fuckin7 PM on Christmas Eve.
Turns out Walgreens is open on Christmas Eve. The 24-hour stores are still 24-hour, believe it or not. And there’s one close. We go back and forth a couple of times about 1) whether we actually need Heavenly Salad for Christmas dinner (yeah, we kinda do) and 2) whether Walgreens is likely to have marshmallows.
Walgreens.com allows me to search the inventory of individual stores and I discover that my Walgreens claims to have 10 packages of small marshmallows, but none of the traditional size. I have a vague memory of having tried this trick with the smaller marshmallows in the past and not being super happy with the results, but fuck it; I’d rather have undersized marshmallows than no Heavenly Salad.
I have to wait for a parking spot at Walgreens. Which is packed. Which I suppose isn’t terribly surprising. The employees, who know full and goddamn well that everyone there needs one thing and one thing only, are bouncing back and forth from customer to customer, basically pointing, barking “What do you need?” and leading them to that one thing. I overhear a conversation where one family is carefully explaining that they need macaroni, because their “side dish” is macaroni and cheese, and I realize with some horror that they mean Kraft macaroni and cheese, and I have a sudden flashback to this lady:
I don’t object to macaroni and cheese for Christmas, mind you– I thought about making it myself– but macaroni and cheese from scratch isn’t hard. It’s not even much more expensive! No one should be bringing freaking Kraft Dinner to Christmas. They actually have all the ingredients to make it from scratch! I can see them from where I’m standing!
I find my marshmallows. It turns out they actually do have one bag of the proper size, and technically I only need the one bag, but the bag appears to have been exposed to extreme heat if not an actual flamethrower at some point and I reject it in favor of two bags of the smaller ones. But hey! I have marshmallows! Victory!
I get in line to buy my marshmallows. The cashiers appear to be in genuinely good moods, and they’re having the exact same conversation with everyone, and everyone in line appears to be grateful and happy and not at all the assortment of miserable bastards that I was expecting. There are lots of thank-yous being tossed around.
I glance at the guy in front of me. He is carrying the following items:
A single DiGiorno personal microwave pizza
One (1) liter bottle of Mountain Dew
and nothing else.
I briefly consider asking him if he needs help, or if he needs an adult. Like, dude, do you want to come home with me? Because you are buying a microwave pizza and a Mountain Dew at 9:00 on Christmas Eve and if that is not a cry for help I cannot imagine what could possibly make it any worse.
And then, as if he can hear me, he gets out of line and wanders off somewhere. I do not follow him, because Jesus awkward, so instead I just buy my marshmallows and head home. I am very grateful to the people behind the counter and they are very nice to me.
I’m doing the thing where I’m trying to make something I said on Twitter a bit less ephemeral by putting it here: I want a change in the rules. If white people are going to keep calling the police on black people for fucking existing in public, well, you go on ahead with your white self and keep doing that. But once the cops have investigated, when it turns out the black person was walking his dog, or taking his damn kids to the park, or buying groceries, or having a barbecue, or whatever goddamned normal-ass thing that black people are allowed to do unless white people are nearby, once the cops have investigated and determined that, yeah, that check for $1000 from this dude’s employer is really his check, and maybe y’all shoulda figured out that your average check cashing fraudster isn’t likely to volunteer two forms of ID and his fingerprint and just cashed the damn thing?
Once the cops figure that out, that accused black person gets five minutes in which he or she cannot be arrested or prosecuted for anything they do, up to and including stealing and detonating a nuclear weapon, if there happens to be one close enough. And the white people don’t get to run away. They gotta stay there while the five-minute rampage happens and if that five-minute rampage involves a white ass getting beat then maybe you shoulda thought of that before you called the cops, you dumb racist cracker motherfucker.
A story of what may actually be the last time I tried to cash a check: I am a high school student, and I have helped out an old lady down the street from me by mowing her lawn for her. A very old lady, who has rewarded me by writing me a check for, supposedly, $25. The only problem is that $25 check is so illegible that I’m the person she handed it to and I can’t decipher my own name, nor can I really honestly figure out how the scrawl in the little box says $25.00, and there is no way any human could possibly look at the part that counts, where you write out the amount in prose, and see “twenty-five dollars and 00/100.” She’s very old and palsied and this check looks like a toddler scribbled on it. There are no recognizable words. I need y’all to realize that I’m not exaggerating here.
I briefly think about not taking the check anywhere at all and just not worrying about it, and then take it to her bank, because there’s no way in hell my bank is touching the thing. And the teller not only agrees to cash it, but she asks me what the amount is supposed to be, and then prepares to withdraw that amount, based on nothing more than my say-so.
Now, okay, this was 24 years ago at minimum, and shit’s supposed to be more secure now. But there wasn’t even the vaguest suggestion of suspicion on her part. Because: white boy.
And then it turned out the check was NSF, and I told her just to throw it away, because … nah. The whole thing was skeevy and even in high school $25 wasn’t enough money that I was gonna go to too much trouble to get it. It’s possible my dad ended up covering it; I don’t remember, but I didn’t end up ever cashing the check.
I have been doing make-up standardized tests all week, and by all week I mean basically every minute of my day other than lunch or advisory. On the one hand, this has been kind of wonderful, because it pins me in my room and people can’t pull me out of my office to make me do stuff, and it exempts me from things like hallway duty, which can be obnoxious. On the other hand, I have literally spent 24 solid hours out of the last three days in a damn near silent room with somewhere between eight and thirteen sixth graders all taking a test as I “monitor” them, and I am so bored I might die.
I mean, given my job’s definition of “exciting,” don’t take me whining about this too seriously, because there is a big difference between boring and stressful and given the choice I will leap joyfully into boring’s arms every time. But …. man. I gotta do this again tomorrow? Really? I’m playing music or summat during the test, because I can’t take the quiet any longer. It’s fuckin’ unnatural.