Based on a true story……
“You remember how bad high school was,” a friend asked while we were skipping stones the other day.
“Vaguely,” I said. “I can’t imagine how bad it is now.”
“You remember trying to imagine ways to get out of class,” he asked, digging around for more stones.
“I didn’t just imagine them, dear boy,” I said in a gruff English accent. “I lived them.”
“Well, go on, spill the beans.”
“There are so many to choose from.”
“What’s one that sticks out in your head the most,” he asked.
“Definitely greenhouse management. Yupp, senior year,” I said, chucking a four skip that glided across the water.
“This outta be good.”
“I should tell you that it was my last class of the day, and I was surprised it went as smoothly as it did,” I said.
“Okay, it’s getting good,” he asked, skipping a five.
“So, in greenhouse management, you were expected to work, and at the same time not expected to work,” I said.
“Okay, so on one side of the classroom were the seniors, who at this point were burnt out on the place and didn’t really care about the class because it wasn’t required. On the other was a slightly bigger group of freshman and sophomores. Rowdy lot, too. Most of the class was more business related because we had to sell the plants we were growing, so it was mostly this: work in the greenhouse most of the day, and maybe get assigned a small quiz at the end of the week.”
“Okay, we’re getting somewhere,” he said.
“So, the day I was out sick–“
“Wait, you told me you hardly ever got sick during work, or school, either, for that matter,” he said.
“It was a rare occurrence, but I didn’t say it never happened. To be honest, I had never been so happy to experience sickness in my entire life, if only it makes for a pretty good story,” I explained.
“Okay, so what happened next,” he asked.
“I was in my first period class when two other seniors, all of us thick as thieves just wanting to graduate, started talking about the fourth period teacher assigning loads of book work for the first time all year because his students, mainly the underclassmen, weren’t paying enough attention. I have a keen ear, you see, and overheard them before they had said anything directly to me, but before the end of the class I was warned all the same that I might want to leave school early if I could. Fake sick perhaps, or tell the teacher that I needed to work on my senior project.”
“What did you do,” he asked.
“I thought about it all day, honestly. I respected the teacher; because of all the teachers at the school, he was one of the few that I felt respected me, too. I couldn’t get loaded down with book work this close to the end, though. Not only was my grade perfect in that class, but I needed it as a breather before going to work in the afternoon. Long story short, I needed something that would last the rest of the semester.”
“This is getting good. Good arousal of conflict on your part,” he said, half joking and half serious.
“Oh, just wait,” I said. “Okay, so while most seniors had become friends on the grounds of camaraderie, some wanted to see you suffer just as much as they did in their advance placement classes, a few of which had cut me a time or two and just happened to be in my last period. So, before class started, I made sure I was the last one to walk through the door.”
“You were always one for theatrics.”
“Have to win the crowd,” I said. “So, I entered the classroom. I saw the teacher, who was telling everyone to be quiet and begin the book work before even noticing me. I walked straight up to his desk and looked him dead in the eye wearing an idealistic face. He looked up and said, ‘Mr. Wallis, how good of you to join us. Hope you’re doing well today’.”
“‘A lot better than yesterday, sir’, I told him. The book work was on the tip of his tongue when I did something that to this day I don’t know how it was accomplished without fumbling my words.”
“Which was,” he asked.
“So, I asked him, ‘Mr. Barnes, have you noticed the gradual decrease in our plant sales recently.’ I kept my voice calm and cool, but loud enough where the others could hear every word. ‘I have, as a matter of fact.’ He even gave the classroom a noxious glare as he said it,” I explained.
“Then what,” my friend asked.
“I kept talking, of course, ‘Mr. Barnes, I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault who hasn’t realized the same shortcoming that I did yesterday. You see, we only have eighteen weeks to learn about the plants we’re supposed to sell, and all the while learn even more about greenhouse management and raising plant life as well. So, I thought of something that kills two birds with one stone.’ I showed him a study guide I made in other classes that marked the ten most commonly asked questions about each plant we sold(watering, sunlight necessity, whether they were annual or perennial, etc.),” I said.
“‘Mr. Barnes, I know we have a lot of greenhouse work to do as a class, especially me for being ill yesterday’ I told him. He had still been under the impression that I didn’t know about the book work. ‘But, if you let me dip out and head on over to the library today, I’ll have a full, typed list of these questions and have them in test form, prepped for your next classes in the fall. I’ll even have a copy to pass out to everyone here, if you’d like.’ I was spreading my arm to the classroom at this point.”
“Theatrics, tsk tsk tsk,” my friend said. “What next?”
“He told me not to bother with the copies for my class because they were being punished. I gave a false look of surprise at this. He let me skip out that day and write up the questions for him. Every day after that I took over a ten minute trip door-to-door trying to sell plants around the school as the plant peddler, a job that formerly belonged to another senior I didn’t like, and I got to stay in the greenhouse for the rest of the semester with one of the most beautiful girls in the school, she was the money handler and a great conversationalist.”
“Damn, outwitted the king, slayed the evil prince, and got his woman,” my friend said.
“So to speak,” I said. “It’s not the best story, but it’s a pretty good one.
“Which ones the best one,” he asked.
“We’ll save that for another daily prompt,” I said.
“Did you just break the fourth wall?”