A curious thing happened on the way to my hall duty. Or on the way back. You’d think I could figure it out. That’s only a four-minute time span. But Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has grown complacent after all these years at the helm of the tight ship she runs. She believes in the sanctity of textbook checkout. That one student, one textbook is the rallying call of Newmentia pupils under her jurisdiction. Nobody would want two of those heavy awkward tomes to haul back and forth from locker to classroom. No sirree, Bob! One is enough. And enough is as good as a feast. But apparently, we have a glutton in our midst.
Let’s back this story up like that much-despised Seinfeld episode where the gang goes to a wedding in India.
Just minutes before my hallway duty jaunt, I told a kid to leave his book on the back desk against the wall so I could have the librarian fix it. Not fix, as in a very special operation so it doesn’t have a litter of baby textbooks for me to give away out front of The Devil’s Playground. Fix, as in glue the wordy guts to the cardboard cover so it doesn’t fall out every time the book is picked up. I planned to send a pupil from the next class down to the library with it, since time was running out.
After the tardy bell, I returned to the classroom and walked back to pick up graded assignments from the previous day to hand back.
THE BROKEN BOOK WAS MISSING!
Right there, beside the graded-paper rack, where that book should have been on the back desk…IT WAS NOT! That textbook had been spirited away like the Lindbergh baby, except in the light of day, and with no need for a ladder. Fortunately, this booknapping had a happier ending.
I made small talk, passing back the graded papers that I always arrange so all I have to do is hand a stack to the end pupil, who takes his off the top and passes the rest of the stack down the row. All the while, I had my eye out for that missing textbook, #11-2. My book numbers are not only written inside the flap, but in numbers two inches high on the closed pages at the bottom edge of the book. I spotted it almost immediately.
“Lifty? Is that your book?”
“Um. No. I forgot my book. So I borrowed one. Can I use it today?”
“No. Put it back. This is how books get lost. You don’t just come in here and pick up whatever you want that might be laying around the room. Now you have incurred my wrath.”
Let the record show that about half the class turned to look at me as if I had two heads. It’s not like I was spitting brimstone. I wasn’t even mad. Just making a point. I guess kids these days don’t have a sense of humor. Or need to pay to increase their word power.
One would have thought a textbook would be safe for a few minutes. Four, to be exact. Even an old couch with a FREE sign, set out beside the curb in a college town lasts longer than that.