Thursday, January 14, 2010

Are you smarter than a fifth grader?

Going behind other people who are waiting, that's a line.

I think teaching has made me a much more confrontational person. Or at least unafraid of it, when it arises. I try not to seek it out myself, but sometimes, it is necessary. Not to mention rather fun.

Case in point:

Wednesday, 12:46 PM

Despite waking up only two hours previously, I have had a productive day so far. I fed the rabbit, cleaned his cage, and played with him a little. I drove over to my bosses' house to pick up some supplies for my extra classes. I had gone grocery shopping. I bought Hagen Daz, a brand name that I ALWAYS have to google before I can spell it correctly, at 2 pints for $5.

And finally, I was going to gas up my car and drive home.

The setting: grocery store gas station. One of the cheapest places to get gas, thus, one of the places where there's always a line. Today, I was rather lucky. Just as I turned into the gas station, the line ahead of me moved forward and I was able to pull up to the pump.

A blue van with a rather scruffy looking, slightly past middle age was hanging out in the driveway between the pumps and the station parking spaces. I had seen him drive into the station before me, going the wrong way in the one-way driveway. His windows were down.

"Hey! What are you doing? I was in line!" he shouted.

"What are YOU doing? See that black Escalade?" I shouted back, pointing to the teenager behind me, who being a kindred spirit, gave a cocky wave. Some teenagers are cool like that.

"And then see that spot behind him? If you were there, you would be in a line. See how you are in the middle of the driveway? That's NOT a line. My fifth grade students would call that 'cutting' and would have told on you to a teacher. The teacher would then probably give you some sort of consequence for taking someone else's turn inappropriately. But then, you look smarter than a fifth grader, right?. You should have already figured that out, accepted you were not in a proper line, and fixed your mistake by now. Fifth graders know how to do that, you see, so I'm sure a grown man can do it too." I concluded.

Blue Van Man cursed and drove around to the next set of gas pumps. He got out of his car when he found a free pump and commented in an extraordinarily loud voice about how he was in line, and that an Asian bitch cut in front of him. Passive aggression at it's best and most mature.

If he was a school boy on the playground, he would be the one sulking, whining his head off at how unfair everyone and everything is. And no one on the playground would be paying him any attention.

Which was just what happened. Several of the gas station customers gave him weak smiles, but they all just turned away and went on their business. The guy on the other side of my pump whistled, grinned, and gave me a wink. I suppose that encouraged me to walk up to the blue van man after my car was full and say:

"Sir, it is indeed a grave injustice when some people don't agree with your concept of what a line is. I hope you feel better about it. Have a good day."

I could feel all the other customer's eyes on me as I walked back to my car - except Blue Van Man. I knew he was still sulking, as children do, but this time a little less loudly.

Three years ago, I would never have done that. It's so uncomfortable to witness these types of scenes. I always hate watching a harassed parent dealing with their tantrum throwing child in public. Most of them allow the kid to get the upper hand.

I'm glad I can I do this today. People have really got to get called out on crap like this more often.

I know it shouldn't be, but I can't help but feel rather satisfied when I've humbled a student by turning their own words back at them. In a caring way, of course. After all, one of my goals is to help my students to NOT become adults like the Blue Van Man.

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