There’s nothing more satisfying than the rare moment when all the stars in all the skies align; when the bolt locks down in a single click and you tighten it fast with an expert twist of the ratchet; when the drive-thru attendant says, “That’ll be seven thirty-five, please,” and you reach in your pocket and fish out three dimes and five pennies on the first scoop; when you open your eyes and stare at the ceiling and say to yourself, “Damn, I sure took the golden path in life.”
None of those moments–or anything resembling them–happened to me today. They rarely do when you teach adolescents. They NEVER do when those same adolescents are scheduled to partake in a mandatory tornado drill in the middle of third period. And you’re dreaming if you think my lesson on latin roots, prefixes and suffixes did anything to change that fact.
I think if an actual tornado ripped through Classroom 105 as we deconstructed the word ‘pluralism’ or cited examples of ‘megalopolises’ or opined on the nature of ‘polytheism’, the only visible effects it would have produced on my students’ faces would have been smiles.
Because, as we sat and stared at the clock and longed for the second hand to sweep past the nine, and then the ten, until it landed squarely on 10:45 flat; and as the brilliant rays of April sun washed through the window shades; and as the robotic drone of the principal’s secretary warned us via speaker phone of the drill’s timely launch (after warning and pre-warning us for over two weeks); and as an idle, pre-teenaged hand yanked on the meticulous braid of hair that hung so enticingly before him; and as a rogue paper airplane faded nose-first into the carpet after taking-off from anonymous hands; and after we all lined up in a bizarre, non-yoga version of child’s pose with our heads touching the cinderblock wall and the stink of prepubescent pit odor rising up in clouds; and after Jimmy Who’s-E-What ripped a fat one that he could never hide and will most likely be reminded about on his wedding day; and after the whole class was face down on the floor in wild hysterics as the fire marshall attempted to read his “highly important” directions to the group of “silent attentives”; after all of that, and only after all of that, I made a realization of great importance:
We’ve learned nothing of tornado drilling in the past three hundred and sixty-four days. We’ve learned nothing at all.
Maybe we shouldn’t wait another 3-6-4 before the next practice run. Then again, maybe some of us value sanity over safety. I mean, it’s just a tornado. Right?