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5:41 a.m. - 2003-05-14


So yesterday I have to go to a local elementary school for Career Day in which I tell the kids about my job, right?

Most adults would love my job. I get out of the office a lot...dare I say...whenever I want. I have very few pressing deadlines, I have an awesomely cool boss and work with some awesomely cool people.

To an adult, that's a cool job.

To a kid, it's boring. They want to hear I'm a fireman or I work at McDonald's or the local Fun Zone.

So I have to make my job a bit more interesting for them.

Therefore, I take two books that I had a hand in writing. One is all about our city in which we live, the other is all about the state in which we live.

I'm scrambling around the office, trying to find anything else that may interest elementary school kids.

I grab a bunch of brochures about the city, toss them in a bag and it's off to school I go.

I get there and the guy in front of me is the local nutjob who fights City Hall on a daily basis and sometimes wins.

He just helped defeat a new tax that was going to provide our school system with millions of dollars. Now our school system is broke, because this tax didn't pass.

He's ecstatic while 500 local teachers are losing their jobs.

Personally, I think it's kinda strange that he's in a school talking all about his job ("I'm the guy that made sure you kids stay extra special stupid!"), but I didn't book the guests.

So anyway, he's telling me everything that's wrong with the city and that everything I'm working toward making a reality is stupid, blah blah blah.

During my orientation with my new job I was told that I was to never bring up politics in conversations with people I didn't know because it would reflect badly on the business I work for. So I didn't. I just let the guy babble.

Anyway...I've heard about the guy for several years and finally met him for the first time. And now I can say, he's a certifiable loon.

So I go to the first of six classes that I have to speak to.

It's a bunch of second graders.

I made the fatal mistake of asking "What are some fun things to do around town?"

Every single little hand shot up in the air.

So it was me saying "Yes?" and each child saying something.

"The Zoo?"

"Yes! The Zoo! That's a fun thing to do!"

"The parks?"

"Yes! The parks! That's a fun thing to do!"

And so on and so on.

I had 15 minutes in each classroom so my time was limited.

It took ten minutes for me to call on each child. They ALL had something fun that they liked to do.

...For the first two minutes or so.

After that, they were grasping for straws. They just wanted to talk.

"Go to K-Mart?"

(K-Mart is now closed in our city.)

"Ummmm...yeah. Going to K-Mart is fun. Except it's a big empty building now full of rats and cockroaches."

"Going to the doctor?"

"Yeah...going to the doctor is fun if you're a little freak."

Et cetera.

By the time the bell rang, I hadn't even told the kids what I did or showed them books or handed out brochures. It was time for my next class.

I get to the next class and the Natural Gas Lady was finishing up her presentation.

She had brought coloring books and sunglasses and pencils for the kids.

The Natural Gas Lady was my new nemesis.

The kids stared at me as I came into the classroom, trying to see what I had to give them.

I started my spiel off with a nervous chuckle, saying "I don't have anything to give you guys, so you'll just have to listen to what I have to say instead."


The kids were restless. They didn't want to hear about tourism and my efforts to boost it in this city. They wanted schwag.

Tough titty, ya little brats. I ran out of brochures in the first class.

Fifteen minutes are up and I'm practically booed out of the room.

The next class was strange.

I get in there and by now I'm a pro. I list a few fun things to do in town rather than ask them for their suggestions.

In fact, the only time I become interactive is when I'm done with my boring spiel and ask them for questions.

"Any questions?" I ask after my ten minutes of talking.

Hands shoot up in the air.

Point at the kid. "Yes?"

"Do you have a red truck?"


I asked the boy to repeat himself, since I thought I misunderstood him.

"Do you have a red truck??"

"No. I have a maroon Intrepid. No truck. Yes??"

"Do you have diabetes?"

What the fuck??

Do I have diabetes?!? How the hell did this kid know?? Yes, I have diabetes. But how in the hell did this kid know??

I had to laugh. It was the dumbest question I think I had gotten all day.

"Yes, I have diabetes. You're very perceptive!"

A little boy was sitting in the back of the class with his hand up.


"Do you get beat up a lot at your job?"

Okay...scratch the diabetes question being the stupidest question that I thought I'd hear all day. This kid took the cake and ate it.

"No. I've never been beat up at my job."

He stares at me for a second and says "I bet I could beat you up."

What the hell??

I've got a third grader who's maybe 50 lbs. threatening my ass in a class room.

I chuckled.

"I uhhhh...I don't think you could beat me up."

The teacher isn't even paying attention. There's five more days in the school year and she's wondering if she'll have a job in September and could care less what's going on in her classroom.

The kid swore he could beat me up. Granted, the school is in a bad section of town, and he could easily have brought a gun in his bookbag, pulled it out and shot my ass.

I finally ended the conversation with "I know karate."

All the other kids went "oooooooooo!!"

The little bully sunk down in his chair. There was no way he was going to take me on.

Next class, where the teacher had the gall to ask me how much I made.

I wasn't about to tell her. That's just rude. I was shocked she'd even ask such a thing.

I told her I made between 10 and 150,000 a year.

She asked if I could get her a job. I probably should have said "Sorry, we only hire intelligent people with common sense," but didn't.

The next-to-the-last class were adamant about finding out how old I was.

I told them I was 41.

They were shocked. They said I looked much younger than that. Several of the kids gasped and told me that was "very old!"

One little girl said "You only look like you're 35!"

Well uhhhh...thanks. Thanks a heap.

The last class...holy shit.

The teacher wasn't even trying to control the kids. It was right before lunch time and they were restless.

How restless?

When I walked in, they immediately got out of their chairs and started playing.

The teacher stood there with her arms folded, not saying a word. Not bothering to introduce me. Not even introducing herself to me.

So I started my now-patented spiel and the kids weren't listening. They were playing and hitting each other and talking and reading "The Little Mermaid".

I talked for about two minutes. I showed the kids the books.

NOBODY looked at me. They're up running around, drawing on the chalkboard, etc.

The teacher just stood there. Oblivious to it all.

I think I found out why our school system is in such dire trouble. Because we're paying people like this woman to not do a damned thing in the classroom.

I spoke for two of my fifteen minutes. I then practically shouted "Are there any questions?"

A few kids called back "Nooooooo" over their shoulders.

I walked out of the classroom and the teacher followed me to the door to close it behind me without saying a word.

"You really need to get a better hold on these kids," I said, clearly pissed.

She said nothing. Not "Bye". Not "Hi, my name is Miss Jones".

Nothing. Just closed the door behind me.

I went to the office to announce that I had finished my last class and if nothing else was required of me, I was leaving.

The principal thanked me and asked if I enjoyed it. I said I had except for Miss Jones' class where the kids weren't paying attention and the teacher had lost control of them.

"Yes," the principal said. "She's been having some problems lately."


More things happened yesterday, but I'm out of time and space.

Talk to ya tomorrow.

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