Friday, July 11, 2014

Instead of saying how much you hated your fourth grade teacher, why don't you stop to consider how big of an asshole YOU were in fourth grade?

So I saw something on Facebook that got my gears grinding.

A friend of mine posted a Throwback Thursday photo from grade school. It was a 4th grade class picture. This is not the grade school that I went to, but it was a grade school that fed into my high school, and this is how I know the person who posted the photo.

I posted a pithy comment about a girl in the picture who was wearing a delightfully '80s poofy and pink dress. That was pretty much where I meant to leave things, particularly since I really only knew about two people in the photograph.

But then a classmate in the picture (whom I don't know) made the following comment, in reference to the teacher who taught their class: "Anyone remember when she yelled at us for not playing with Xxxx?" (I'm removing the names of people here, with respect to those involved.)

Now, I happen to know Xxxx. He's one of the two people I recognize in the photo. And Xxxx is a great person. I was friends with Xxxx in high school, after high school, and to this present day, despite a great geographic distance. Xxxx comes back to town every now and again, and Xxxx is always a delight to see!

More commentators mentioned how mean and awful the teacher was. For instance, calling one kid a little jerk. Now, that might not be appropriate for a teacher to tell a kid, but since he was 9 or 10, I bet he was being a little jerk.

But I digress.

Going back to Xxxx.

The commentators go on at some length about how their teacher was a horrible person. Made them hate math, was a "crusty bitch" who hated her job and the kids... I can't speak to any of this personally, as I didn't go to that school, and I don't know the teacher.

But the comment that stuck with me was the one about Xxxx, and her yelling at the kids for not playing with Xxxx at recess.

You know what? Maybe she was trying, albeit ineffectively, to combat some bullying that she was seeing going on. If that's the case, then she was trying to do a shit-ton more than what most of my teachers did in grade school and middle school.

Grade school and middle school is pure and utter hell. Kids at that age aren't even human, and they certainly like to pick on other kids that are different or don't fit in. Maybe this teacher was actually trying to do something positive about, rather than just blithely ignore it, like most teachers did back then.

Most of all, this person's comment just drives home a very important idea to me. Bullies never become self-aware enough to acknowledge that they were bullies. That makes me very sad.

Because deep down, I held onto this hope that the people who made my life hell in middle school hold at least an ounce of regret about it. But now... I just don't know.

I'm 33 years old, and I still randomly think about the abuse I was subjected to, and probably Xxxx does to. It has, at least in small part, shaped who I am.

Worse yet, the person who made this comment about Xxxx and that teacher? She later reveals that she's an educator. That sickens me.

I worry about my son, and for when he enters school. At least back when we were kids, we could go home to a safe place, far away from the bullies. Nowadays, kids can't escape it because of social media.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Where I don't even know what to say...

So, this morning I was telling someone that I never know what’s going to happen each day when I come into work.

"I thought it was a new hamster wheel that runs the computers. Bigger and more efficient. Only requires 1 hamster."

Today, this is what happened to me.

In case you’re wondering, it’s a replica of a Renaissance Book Wheel.

It was one of my bosses who authorized a group of students to build this. He then informed me, just today, that we were going to temporarily store it in my group of offices.

Since this thing is huge, I had it put in my boss's wife's office. Either it will stay there forever... or its location will hasten its removal.

We shall see.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Where my faith in humanity is restored...

So, lately I'd been thinking that I'd done something to seriously mess up my karma, but I couldn't narrow down any one event. I'm a good person, damn it, and I try to treat others the same way that I want to be treated.

I was having a series of ridiculous or stupid things happening to me, in rapid succession.

Such as, going to my parents' house to bring in their mail, and managing to drop my copy of the Volkswagen key into the ONE spot where I can't get it. I mean, the odds of this were just... so slim. But the key somehow came off my key ring (it wasn't even the whole key ring), and drop into the ivy next to the porch. When I went to pick it up, I accidentally brushed it between side of the cement porch, and a gap where my dad had placed a brick to prevent animals from getting under the porch. The brick had moved a bit over time, and there was about an inch and half gap between the brick and the porch. As I tried to reach in there, I managed to knock the key deeper under the porch. And I can't move the brick, because it's frozen into the ground.

The key is still there. Unless, of course, a squirrel sees it, says, "Shiny!" and runs off with it.

And there was overdrawing my checking account, because I'd messed up the online bill pay on our second most expensive payment (the Volkswagen, actually). I'd neglected to change the date, so the payment went out a week and half early.

Then yesterday morning, at about 7:40am, after a particularly rough commute to work, I slipped on a patch of ice on the sidewalk that runs parallel to the Midway, and went crashing to the ground. Chicago has had a couple days of warm weather to thaw out from under all this snow, but it's still cold enough overnight to freeze the melt-off.

This is the sidewalk on the Midway, during the winter. Imagine this, but with frozen melt-off.
I was unhurt, aside from my ego. So I picked myself up, gathered my belongings, and trudged the rest of the way to my office (nearly falling at least one more time).

An hour later, as I was still ruminating on my crappy run of luck, my cell phone rang. I didn't recognize the number, but I answered anyway.

It was my library, which is out in the Suburbs where I live. The librarian was asking if I'd lost my keys. I was caught off guard. I asked what she meant.

She explained that she'd gotten a call from Juan at the University of Chicago. He'd picked up a set of car keys, and was trying to find the owner. So he'd called the phone number that was on the little tag that served as my library card. She said that while they won't give out my information, she offered to take his name and number, and that she'd call me.

I hadn't even realized that I'd been holding my keys when I fell. I usually beep my car locked, and the drop the keys into my pocket. In this case, I remembered that once I'd crossed the street, I'd been unsure if I'd locked the car, so I beeped it one more time before I started walking through ankle deep snow to get to the sidewalk. I must have not put the keys back into my pocket before I fell, and I wasn't very far from where I'd parked when it happened.

So, had Juan not picked up my keys, and gone above and beyond to find out who they belonged to, I would have gotten to my car that afternoon, and one of two things would have happened:

1) My car would have still been there, but I would have been unable to get in, and likely freaked out trying to find the keys. Ultimately, I would have had to have called Bill at work, and had him drive to the University with the extra key. He would have done it, of course, but he would have made sure that I knew he wasn't happy about it.

2) My car wouldn't have been there, because some asshole would have picked up the keys, pointed them at the line of cars to see which one they belonged to, and stolen my car.

As you can see, I have twelve different tags on there.
Honestly, the library card was Juan's best shot of finding the owner of the keys. Everything else was all retail stuff - including a Jewel card that is so old, that I don't even know what contact information they have on file for me. And heck, Dominick's is now closed. And everything else? He probably wouldn't have even gotten in touch with a real person.

Also, I'd only put that library card on the key ring in the last month, after it languished in my wallet for the better part of half a year.

I ended up calling Juan, who works in IT on the Hospital side of the University. We arranged to meet, and I picked up my keys shortly thereafter. I offered to buy him a cup of coffee, but he already had one!

This whole thing made me realize that my karma isn't totally screwed up after all. There are still good people left in the world, and good things still do happen to good people.