Today, as I drove down North Avenue on the way to work, I remembered to snap a shot of my favorite guy (I'd brought my camera to snap a picture of my school-- I forgot to, for reasons that will become apparent). He's the crossing guard on North Avenue and Kedvale (just west of Pulaski). I see him every day on my drive to work. I frequently have to wait as he pauses four lanes of traffic at a spot where there is no traffic light. I'm always impressed, and a little worried as he walks out into traffic and patiently, but assertively stops traffic for the children and their parents.
Every time I see him, I wonder about him. He's got to be nearly seventy. What did he do during the main part of his working life? Maybe someday I'll stop and chat him up.
My afternoon was less pleasant. Right as sixth period was about to start, an altercation erupted in the hallway right outside my room. It was started by Melvin. Melvin stands out in the school; he's about six foot six. With his height and the braids in his hair, he looks like a handsomer version of the alien in Predator. He's huge, but isn't intimidating. At least not to me.
He and I got off to a rough start. I used to look forward to the days he was out. He was surly, defiant and refused to work. Talking to a teacher who taught there last year, I found out that he has an IEP (teacher talk-- an Individualized Education Plan, for kids with learning disabilities). Some of the hallmarks of kids with learning disabilities are low frustration level, disengagement and shitty attitudes. I buckled down; I made some classroom accomodations, and began making a point to say hello to him whenever I saw him. At first, he ignored me. Then he began acknowledging my greeting with a grunt. Now, he says a friendly "Hello." He's still having trouble with other teachers, but he comes to my class and works hard and behaves.
In any event, something happened between he and Janetta, a super-annoying girl who, in addition to doing zero work in her classes, is always all over about a half dozen guys in the school all the time. I don't know how it started, but Melvin apparently said, at some point, that she was a slut. She took offense, mainly because, well, she apparently is. Mel was wrong to say it, but what she did was just as wrong-- she spent the next ten minutes screaming and, absurdly, threatening Melvin.
Our school is tiny-- eighty students-- to say it caused an uproar is an understatement. I tried to quietly get Melvin into my room-- he has class with me sixth period. Security tried to defuse it by escorting her out, but she 1) stood screaming out in front of the school, and 2) called 3 or 4 or her male "homeys" to kick Mel's ass. I couldn't believe that a girl as small as her could yell as loud as she could. The assistant principal had to call the police.
The rest of the afternoon was, of course, lost. The school was in an uproar, and none of us were able to teach. The tension was thick enough to cut with a knife. The other teachers and I were drained. The "homeys" showed up again as soon after the cops left, but were fortunately gone by the time we went home.
I did get some amusing moments on the way home, which I was unfortunately not quick enough to capture on camera. First was the lady waiting to turn left in front of me; I don't know how she was steering the car, because she was holding the cell phone she was talking into with one hand and her cigarette in the other. A few blocks down North Avenue, I looked over and the middle-aged crossing guard in front of Maternity B.V.M was singing and dancing. It put me in a better mood by the time I picked up my stepdaughter at afterschool.
Tomorrow, both kids will be suspended. Three weeks ago, finding out that Melvin would be suspended for three days would have drawn a sigh of relief. Now, I'm upset about it. Things change.