Last year, a student lost one of my textbooks the first full week of school. That's gotta be some kind of record.
She didn't try to hide the fact that she had no textbook. Some kids would have borrowed a friend's book from another class period. Or taken one out of a nearby locker every day, then put it back. Not this one. Bookstress came right to me the very next day.
"I lost my book."
"Okay. You need to find it. I will not check out another book to you. One book per customer."
"But I need a book. How am I going to study?"
"You'll have to borrow one, I guess. I can't give out another book every time somebody loses theirs. That would cost a fortune. If you pay the cost of the book, which is $79, I can check out another book to you."
"Can't I just get one on Amazon?"
"If you can."
"Well, if I get one, I'm keeping it."
"If you get one, it would be your book. But if you pay the school to get another one checked out, it's not your book. The one that's lost is your book."
"That's not fair."
"Every student has a book checked out. One book. Nobody else has lost theirs."
"Well, I had it with me when I left for a club meeting."
"Then check where you had the club meeting."
"I did. It wasn't there. I looked everywhere. I think you should call Mr. Principal and have him make an announcement for everyone to look for my book."
"That's not his job. I will do a book check to see if your number turns up. But it's your responsibility to find your book."
I did a book check a couple times a quarter. All year. Never found book # 175. Guess what. There was a surprisingly large number of students, like 100%, who had the correct book. Everybody except Bookstress. Here's the thing. I turn in a list of lost books every year that I have a lost book. It goes to the office with my checkout papers. BIG LETTERS on top, LOST BOOKS, with the name of the loser, and the number of the book. As far as I know, no student has ever been made to pay for the book. Not that I'm in the loop. Every now and then, books turn up on the last day of school when the custodians go through the lockers. Not book #175.
As you might recall, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom was absent the last week of school. A substitute collected the books. When I checked through them before putting them away, book #175 was not there. On open house night, Bookstress and her mom dropped by to see me, even though I don't have her in class this year.
"Did you find my book?"
"No. Not even after a whole year of looking."
"How much was it again? I can't get my grades."
"Yes. And the bank will give her two dollars for every 'A' if we bring in an official printout."
"Have you tried looking them up online?"
"Yes. But it's blocked. Because we owe the school money. We'll have to find a way to pay for that book."
"Did the office tell you that you owe for the book?"
"No. But we also owe $12 in lunch charges."
"I'm pretty sure it's the lunch charges holding you up. If you pay that, you'll probably get your grades."
"But we owe for the book."
"I wouldn't mention that. In the past, it has not stopped people from getting grades."
Off they went. Perhaps to pay the lunch charges, perhaps not. I forgot all about it. Wrote off book #175 as a lost cause. Handed out my books to this year's students. Students, I might add, who are not very careful of their books, leaving them on their desks unless reminded, leaving them IN their desks so that I must call them out of another class to traipse down and take them off my hands, and blatantly asking to leave their book in my room because they don't want to carry it to lunch and tech class, and they just don't have enough time to go to their locker. Huh. Yes, they do. Go to your locker before you go to lunch.
When Jewels told me at the teacher lunch table that she had one of my purple textbooks in her room, I figured I might as well take it and run a number check to see who was careless this time. Jewels carried it to me on her way to the teacher workroom after school. "I don't know whose it is, but here it is."
"Okay. I'll check the number."
SWEET GUMMI MARY! IT WAS BOOK #175!!!
I guess Jewels doesn't pay much attention to the stuff laying around in her classroom. That dang thing had been in there for a year and a week.
I can't wait to tell Bookstress that I found her book.