Friday, November 21, 2014

I Think This Is A Bad Omen For Upcoming State Testing In May

Today a kid threw up.

Don't act like that's normal. This is high school we're talking about. Which means that no floor tiles were injured in the making of this post. No special sawdust was sprinkled on the upchuck. The kid came back to the classroom and informed me of her loss.

"What should I do?"

"Go tell the office."

"What are THEY going to do?"

"What am I going to do?"

"I don't want to go to the office."

"Well, sit down, I guess."

"Aren't you going to do anything?"

"I already advised you to go to the office. They will call home. They usually send people home when they throw up."

"I don't want to go to the office. They don't like me. They won't let me go home."

"It's not like they can take your throw-up away from you." Let the record show that throughout this drama, other pupils were shouting, 'Did you flush it? I hope you saved it! Because if you flushed it, they won't believe you.' See? Everybody else seems to know the procedure.

Anyhoo...Chucker went to the office, where they called home, but nobody answered. But that's not the big story. The big story is what went on while she was out of the room. When everybody was supposed to be reviewing for the test I gave this morning.

"Do they still use that sawdust stuff if somebody throws up?"

"They do on the bus."

"Yeah. I remember when that kid threw up in his shoe. He was some Basementia kid. He took off his shoe, and threw up in it. Then he carried it up to the driver, held it out, and said, 'I threw up in my shoe.'"

"What did the driver do?"

"She just looked at him, and said, 'What do you want ME to do about it?' Then we took him home and made him get off the bus."

Of course that did not bode well for study time. A couple of the studiers were downright hysterical. With laughter.

C'est la vie.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dine And Dash Thursday

WooHoo! Turkey dinner today in the cafeteria. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom even took a TRAY! Which put her forty cents in the hole on her lunch account.

Yes, I have not eaten a school lunch for several years now. But today I broke down, over the smell of wheat rolls baking in an industrial oven. Or roasting on an open fire. Because the fire alarm went off, sending us into the wild chill yonder all willy-nilly, us without coats, unsure of whether we were about to be charred. The kids took off for the softball field, though I stopped them about 50 yards from the building to see if the other teachers were taking their kids all that way. "Guess so," they said. Thank the Gummi Mary a lunchtime companion happened to be visiting that end of the building, and offered to take my old red gradebook and supervise my horde. Her efforts were greatly appreciated, what with this blood-thinner poison eating away at my knee joints. I might have made it to the field, but it is doubtful that I would have made it back. I am terrible on uneven surfaces such as the Mount Everest descent and ascent that would have been necessary.

Anyhoo...the fire that wasn't was after lunch, so I guess the rolls can't be blamed. Funny thing about those rolls. When I read the menu to my class at the end of the announcements, they cheered the turkey and mashed potatoes, but when I got to ROLLS, they booed and hissed. "But that's what smells so good in the hall right now," I emphasized. "You were all just saying how great the hall smells."

"Have you ever had the wheat rolls here?"

"No. I bring my lunch."

"That's why you think they might be good."

I found out what they were talking about. Those things are dry. Like cotton batting. Worse than a McDonald's breakfast biscuit. I daresay I would have choked three times, but for the bottle of water I had at the ready to soak that cotton and wash it on down my throat. Three bites. Three chokes. That wheat roll was out of the rotation. Thank the Gummi Mary I had that water bottle. I sure couldn't swallow the fat-free chocolate milk. Yuck. I found that out when my mom and I went to the biscuit and gravy fundraiser last month.

I hope heads don't roll. The turkey was not a baked bird like we had eons ago when lunch was good. It was turkey medallions, which are chunks of turkey that come in a can with enough brine to choke a horse addicted to salt licks. AND the salt shakers were out again! I am quite sure the children exceeded their allotment of noon-time sodium today.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom Was Most Certainly NOT Tooting Her Own Horn

Oh, dear. You would not believe the type of atrocities to which Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has been subjected this year. Or maybe you would, if you've ever donned the teacher cap, and rubbed elbows without touching with the early-teenage set.

There I was, minding my own business grading the previous class's work, having presented the lesson and passed out the assignment and subdued the energetic attention-seekers who would rule if I blinked...when it happened.

IT.

A fart reverberated off a blue hard-plastic chair like thunder rolling across the hardpan prairie ahead of a thunderstorm.

I raised one eyebrow. Just to show that I KNEW. Because, of course, 21 pupils turned to look at ME. Make that 20. All but the gas-passer. It's not like I needed that bit of evidence to pick him out of the crowd. After all, he had leaned over to let it escape. And he was the third-closest student to my desk. Let the record show that he HAD asked to use the bathroom right before class started. And he was in a panic, because BOTH of the boys' bathrooms were being cleaned. Except they weren't. The custodian was merely standing in front of the one next to my classroom, the bright yellow mop cart blocking the entrance, but no yellow sign declaring "Closed For Cleaning." So Tooter went in and came back appearing refreshed.

But that was not the atrocity. Not even the smell such as might emanate from a rotting skunk carcass after it died from eating too many rotten eggs was the atrocity. No. There was a very special atrocity saved by Even Steven just for Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Amidst the quiet and the silent stares and my raised eyebrow of resignation there arose two whispers.

"Who WAS that?"

"Mrs. Hillbilly Mom."

And then two ne'er-do-wells in front of Tooter began that Muttley wheezy laugh. OH, NOT-HEAVEN NO!

"That is enough. This is NOT proper classroom behavior, and it is NOT going to continue. I will put an end to this with a discipline referral if you can't control yourselves any better than that."

Silence. Tooter turned around. "I admit it was me. I didn't mean to. I sat wrong. I wasn't trying to do it."

"That's not the main issue. The main issue is that comment of 'It was Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.' I will not have my name brought up like that to disrupt class. I will not stand for it."

Tooter's eyes grew larger. "That part wasn't me. I promise. I would not do that."

"I know that wasn't you. It was one of your buddies in front of you. And it's going to stop right now." Both buddies had turned away quickly and began working more earnestly than they had on all assignments combined since August 14.

Near the end of class, Tooter turned around again. "I would sincerely like to apologize. I did not mean to do that. I am very sorry."

"That's okay, Tooter. I'm not mad at you. You are not the issue here."

Sometimes, you have to take those lemons life gives you, and squeeze them until they feel the pressure.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Squeaky Wheel Is Loaded For Bear

Farmer H took that THIRD NOTICE bill into his own hands today. He had planned to drive down to HIS hospital, where the service occurred, after picking up my mom from HER hospital after her surgery. As Even Steven would have it, Mom was not discharged until 2:00. Not enough time for Farmer H to get her home and hurry to his patient accounts rendezvous. Mom had called him at work around 11:00, to let him know she would be late.

Farmer H called the local hospital and (of course) got a machine. He left what he called, "a not very nice message" about his frustration with the buffoonery of the California office that sends out the statements.

"When I was on the way home with your mom, I got a call back. The lady was super-nice. She asked if I had the check number, and wanted to know what date it cleared the bank. I had to pull off the road to read it to her. She said she'd check on it and get back to me. About 30 minutes later, she called back. She apologized all over herself for the actions of the California office. She said that yes, the hospital ran the check and received the funds. But when the data was entered, two digits in the account number were transposed, and the amount was not credited to my account."

"Oh. So somebody had a credit of $131.33 that they don't deserve, thanks to us."

"Yeah. Somebody is getting a $131.33 credit, thanks to the idiots who can't punch in a number. This lady said that if we ever have ANY problems, come right to them at the local hospital. Don't even mess with the California office. She was SUPER nice."

"Of course she was. She's small-town. For all she knows, you could come in there with a gun and blow them all away. You DID say you left a not-very-nice message. It's not like you're going to drive to California and take it out on them. Don't think they don't go over this stuff in their training. Those California people are probably way up in an office building with armed guards in the lobby. Thus their a$$holery."

"Well, she said to come down there if we have any problems."

"I'll remember that next month when I get the FOURTH NOTICE."

Monday, November 17, 2014

Oh He Called To California With A Paid Bill On His Knee, And He's Going Down To The Hospital, The Bookkeeper For To See

Farmer H is hot to trot! And not in a good way. In the angry way that my best ol' ex-teaching buddy Mabel uses it.

He had just arrived home from a long day taking my mom to the hospital for surgery, and I had just arrived home from a long day of my regular job which included grading 18 assorted make-up assignments due to various school trips and deer hunting excursions. Neither of us was in a mood for suffering fools. Gladly or otherwise.

As I slaved of a hot oven, warming up yesterday's pot roast and whipping up some garlic cheese bread, I opened today's mail.

"I am SICK of this! Here's another bill from your hospital for that test in August. I called them last month when we got the second bill and told them I paid it. The dude said there was no record of a payment. I told him the number of the check that had cleared the bank in September, the very week I received that first bill. And he said they would start a review, and not to do anything now, but I might need a copy of that canceled check if they notified me. So I got right on the phone to the bank, and got that check copy. Here it is. And the note of who I talked to in the California office, which is that number listed on the statement, and what day, and what time, and what he said."

"HM. Don't get all worked up about it. We paid it. We're not paying it again."

"But this ALWAYS happens! Nobody can do their job any more. I pay a bill way before the deadline, and now I'm getting a THIRD notice! For no reason!"

"I'll call them right now."

Farmer H got the phone. I heard him ask for someone. I went back to meal-making. I went to the bathroom and changed my clothes. Farmer H was still sitting in his La-Z-Boy with the phone to his ear.

"I see what they do. They put you on hold so long that they think you'll hang up. Then they don't have to deal with you. Well, I'm not hanging up." A few minutes later, I heard a dial tone. "Yeah. Now they hang up on ME! I'll fix them."

Farmer H dialed again. "Yes. I want to talk to someone about his bill I already paid! NO! I CAN'T hold. I was just hung up on by one of your people after I'd been on hold for fifteen minutes! I want to talk to someone NOW. Here is my account number. I paid this bill. And my wife already called last month to tell you people that it was paid. No. You people ran the check. So you should have a record that it was paid. No. She didn't fax anything. Nobody told her to fax it. NO! I don't WANT my account frozen, because I DON'T OWE YOU A THING! What? What number should I fax it to? No. Wait. Can I just take it down to the hospital here, where I went, instead of dealing with you people in California? Because you don't have a clue what you're doing. Fine! I'll take it to them tomorrow. If THEY tell you that I don't owe anything, will THAT be good enough for your office? GOODBYE!"

Yeah. Farmer H is not one to mince words. I think now that he's had a glimpse into my world, he might understand why I get all worked up.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I Guess I Shouldn't Really Recommend His Termination

It's been a busy weekend here at the Mansion. As you remember, we kicked it off Friday night with a trivia contest. Saturday morning The Pony and I did the shopping. No sooner did we get our provisions home, unpacked, and stowed away than it was time to take The Pony back to town for his bowling league.

I was pretty tired from my previous 36 hours. Friday had been my duty day at school, plus we had an assembly where I got to stand around for fifty minutes. So I almost decided against stopping by the gas station chicken store for some scratch-off tickets. I had some previous winners with me to cash in. I knew I would regret it if I arrived home with no tickets. So off I went to the station of chicken. I had no intent of buying chicken when I entered the store. Then I smelled that magical aroma. It's been a long time since I partook of the petroleum-seller's fowl. Besides, my lunch at home was going to be braunschweiger on Bunny Bread with mustard and onion. Which meant I had to slice a couple items and squeeze the mustard. That wasn't going to cut the mustard with me, being so tired and all.

I walked past that counter and looked at the chicken case. It appeared fresh enough. There was no chicken picker present. So I almost decided against the crispy greasy goodness. Then the new clerk, a tall, portly skinhead-looking fellow, said, "Do you want something from the kitchen?"

"I'm trying to decide. Okay. Yes. I want to order from the kitchen." He hit the secret buzzer that must do something like shine a light in the batcave to summon the chicken pickers. Then he kept staring at me. I didn't want to tell him to take a picture, it would last longer, because he might actually have whipped out a phone and taken my picture. I was tapping my scratch-off winners on the counter. There was nobody else in the store. "Here. Do you want to take a look at these while there's nobody in line?" I'm all about keeping the clerks out of a jam in case it gets busy. But then that smart-a$$ had to open his mouth and bray.

"Sure. I'll take a look at them. Do you want me to check them for winners?"

"Yes. I want you to check them for winners." A$$hole. The little old chicken picker was as pleasant as could be, but this a$$hole was really getting on my nerves. So much that I made a note not to do business there again when he was working. Even the stern monotone countback clerk would be ten times more acceptable than this a$$hole. Everything he did was like he was mocking me. Like he was secretly a blueblood millionaire, gathering information on how the little people live. I cashed in my tickets and bought more. The a$$hole tossed them on the counter like he was too good to ever buy a lottery ticket. A$$hole.

I took my chicken home and hauled it and the scratch-off tickets down to my dark basement lair. I set aside three tickets to send to the #1 son in a card later in the week. Then I put the others on my stack of winners on top of a Puffs With Lotion box. Mmm. Gas station chicken. I actually had a breast that looked like it came from a chicken, not a quail. I hope that old chicken picker wasn't in trouble for giving me the good stuff. After consuming that tasty bird boob right down to the bone, and the wedge fries that accompanied it, I turned to my tickets. I had a cornucopia of a smorgasbord of scratchers. Loser. Loser. Loser. Three dollars. Four dollars. Five dollars. Five dollars. WAIT A MINUTE! That last one wasn't five dollars. It was five HUNDRED dollars!

Darn that a$$hole all to heck!

It is not fitting that an a$$hole should sell me such a good ticket.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Journey Of A Healthy T-Hoe Begins With A Single Tire Gauge

I declare. Farmer H is trying his darnedest to tick me off. He should really know better, what with me having a hair-trigger tick-off switch.

Last night, Farmer H drove T-Hoe to trivia. It was sponsored by The Pony's NHS club, so we paid to play. We won't go into how our little team of three-and-one-fourth was soundly trounced by the entire rest of the field, including The Pony's team of mere children. Let the record show that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, Farmer H, Mrs. HM's sister-the-ex-mayor's wife, and the ex-mayor himself do not comprise a very good knowledge base for sports, Disney Movies, or 50 states questions. It did not help that the ex-mayor, a medium-wig with Ameren, was on call and had to leave the room eleventy-billion times to explain to crews how to get where they were needed to restore electricity to parts of a major metropolitan area. Sweet Gummi Mary! You'd think folks could sit in the dark and chill out while Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was playing trivia from 7:00 to 10:00.

Farmer H moved T-Hoe's driver's seat to within three millimeters of the steering wheel. He leaned to one side to emit gas from a Beef Burrito Supreme. He sneezed all over his hand and still took the wheel. On the way home, he started complaining that the side mirror was not aligned to his liking. Even though he had driven all the way to Newmentia with it like that.

"I don't know how you see a thing out of that mirror."

"Oh. I don't use it much. But I can see when the cars are too close behind me at the stoplight."

"It's useless." Said the man who was going forward all the way home, on a two-lane road. It's not like he needed to sweave through rush hour on I-270.

"Fix it how you want."

"I don't know how to do that!"

"Or don't."

"I don't know how you can drive with it like that."

"Well, I drive with a tire that loses a pound of air a day. And brakes that grind and grab when I stop."

"I don't feel anything with the brakes. I can't believe you don't hear that rumble in the bushings."

"I don't know what a bushing is. But I guess there might be a sound. I thought it had something to do with my brakes."

"HM, I can't get them fixed unless I take it to a dealer. That tire is just your sensors gone bad. You need new sensors."

"No Dad. That's the back tires with the bad sensors. The one that shows zero pounds of air, and shows the opposite tires in the readings. And besides, you pull that seat way up, so of course you're not going to see what Mom does out of the mirror."

"I don't know how it can just be the sensors if we put air in twice a week. You'd think that tire would blow up like a balloon and pop with all that air we've put in it since July."

"I don't know how you think I can fix it if you won't drive something else. And I'll need someone to take me and pick me up from the dealer. I can't sit around and wait."

"That's why I told you about it in July. 'I'm getting ready to go back to school,' I told you. 'And I need my car to run.' That's exactly when I told you. But you always had an excuse. I guess we'll keep putting air in it until Christmas break, and hope nothing goes wrong. I asked you to get me a stick gauge for the tires. The Pony can check the air, if you think it's the sensors. I asked for that over a month ago, when you got my headlights, and you said okay. But you never gave me a tire gauge."

"All you have to do is walk over to the BARn and get one off the workbench where all the car stuff is. There's a bunch of them."

REEEEEEEEE! That's the phonograph needle scratching Farmer H's eyes out. Let's get this straight. HE expects MRS. HILLBILLY MOM to WALK to the BARn, and putter around in various workshop areas until she finds a suitable tire gauge? When HE is over at the BARn at least five days a week?

PUHLEEEESE!

That man is cruisin' for a bruisin', achin' for a breakin', yearnin' for a burnin', yappin' for a slappin', clamorin' for a hammerin', stumpin' for a thumpin', and yippin' for a whippin'.