I Feel So Cheap And Dirty, Part II

Before you go on, you may want to read I Feel So Cheap And Dirty, Part I. But I can’t make you.

The four come into my room, and I know what’s going to happen. (By the way, Timmy has no IEP, 504 or anything like that. He’s just lazy.)

The social worker introduces me to Timmy’s parents, who speak no English. And I don’t speak what they speak. It’s unclear whether the social worker speaks what they speak, but I think not.

So with no communication happening on most fronts, the social worker just hits me up and lays it out there: “Is there anything Timmy can do to make something up or somehow pass the class? He has been working so hard in English and spending so much time on that research paper…you know.”

Me: He already failed the class. I already put in grades.

Her: Well, I know. But is there anything he can do?

Parents are standing to the side smiling, nervously.

Me: I don’t know. Like what? The class is over.

Parents looking at me, expectantly.

Does he want to take the exam over again? I don’t care. How about this?…I’ll give him the same final exam, his actual same final exam with his writing on it right now, and he can make corrections on it. How about that?

Her: Would that be enough?

Me: For what?

Her: For him to pass?

Me: Thinking: Jesus Christ…how much time do I want to spend on this? How many people do I want to involve? At what cost? For what purpose?

Yeah…it’ll be fine.

Her: OK. Well good. Thank you, Mr. Teachbad.

I walk the smiling, nodding parents out of my room and shake their hands.

Me: Thank you so much for coming down.

Parents: Thanks you. Ees no good. I know. He working.

Me: Thank you. Bye now. Very nice meeting you.

Timmy sits down to take his exam. Again.

After 20 minutes he brings it up to me. I set it down and keep writing the email or doing whatever I was doing. He stands there for a few seconds watching me. I ignore him.

Timmy: Aren’t you going to grade it?

Me: Yeah. But not right now.

Timmy: But I need to know if I passed.

Me: I’m not going to grade it right now. I’m busy. But you passed. It doesn’t matter what you did on the test. We both know that, right?. You walk up in here with your mom and dad and the social worker because you didn’t want to do the work before. You wasted every little bit of time I gave you to study and work on projects. You’ll pass. But we both know you don’t deserve to. Congratulations.

Timmy: It wasn’t my idea for my parents to come here.

Timmy walks out.

So, Timmy passes. But he still has to go to summer school to make up something else. Fudging his grade didn’t graduate him. I may be cheap and dirty, but I’m not a total whore. A man got to have a code (For fans of The Wire.)

Ten minutes later as I continue to send email and work on my resume, in comes another student to get his senior stuff signed. It’s Tommy.

Tommy has severe attendance issues, but when he is in class he works pretty hard. And he is a lot more pleasant that Timmy. But here’s the thing: Tommy is doing even worse in the class than the pathetic Timmy.

Then I was struck with a thought. The timing was just right. Like God himself wrote the script. The arbitrary justice of injustice slapped me right across the forehead: If Timmy can pass, you bet your ass that Tommy will pass.

The moral of the story? I don’t know.

Two wrongs can feel like some kind of existential, ironic sort of right.

Accentuate the arbitrary.

Nothing you do really matters.

These are all just rough drafts. Once we set on and revise it, we’ll make up some shirts.

Jeez…I’m sorry. Was that a terrible story? I’m having some end of the year melancholy.

Mr. Teachbad


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