A childhood friend of mine presently earns American currency by peddling surrogate instruction skills at various educational establishments in our hometown.
In other words, he's a substitute teacher.
As a student, I was under the impression that all one needed to find success as a sub was a summer beach read and an educational philosophy akin to, "I don't care if you use your #2 pencil eraser to rub a hole in your skull, just try not to die until your real teacher gets back."
According to Substitute Teacher Friend Evan, however, the American educational system has changed mightily since 2003.
For instance, just last week, while pouring through his threadbare copy of "The Feminine Mystique," he was interrupted by the screams and shouts of the rowdy bunch of 5th graders he was being paid to ignore. Though instead of disregarding them further as the pre-2003 Substitute Teacher Handbook would have suggested, Substitute Teacher Friend Evan did the unthinkable—he yelled at them.
"If you don't quiet down right now," he shouted at the misbehaving classroom of soggy-sleeved eleven-year-olds seated before him, "I am never subbing for you again!"
In my day, any sub that dared take such a tone would have been met with a close variation of "Yo dickbag, why don't you just shut your ass and collect your check?"
But instead of a crass comment, a week later Substitute Teacher Friend Evan was rewarded with a package containing twenty-seven apology letters.
Intrigued, I requested that he mail a sampling of the letters to my apartment so I could behold what appeared to be a total shift in the classroom food chain.
And he did.
Dear Mr. Substitute Teacher Friend Evan's Actual Last Name,
I cannot believe I acted the way I did. I always talk way too much. I talk and talk and talk and talk and I am so sorry. Really sorry. Super sorry. For talking as much as I do. I'm a talker. From 5:00am until I go to bed, I talk. And talk and talk and talk. And now it has caught up with me. Finally. Just as I was expecting it to.
Please forgive me because you rock. You are so great. Rockin' great, actually.
P.S. I will try as hard as I can to not talk so much if you come substitute teach for us again. You are so great. You rock. You really do. I'm serious. You are the best sub ever. The best. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. The best.
Bye for real this time. No, seriously. Bye. Buh bye. Adios. Goodbye. See you later…alligator.
Dear Substitute Teacher Whose Name Escapes Me,
It only took a few kids to ruin my reputation. And the school's reputation. And the district's reputation. And I feel sorry for them. But mostly, I feel sorry for myself and the mark on my previously sterling reputation.
P.S. I hope you don't think I'm a bad person.
Dear Sub Dude,
Do you still live with your parents? What kind of car do you drive? Why does my older brother shut himself up in the woodshed at 4:20 every afternoon?
P.S. You're a dickbag.