Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is a big believer in routines. None of this loosey-goosey, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, variety-is-the-spice-of-life, free-range work days for her. No sirree, Bob! There's a pupil in every seat, and a seat for every pupil. Walk through her portal, and sit on it. Only arise to leave, ask for help, turn in a paper, or blow your nose. All other out-of-seatness is superfluous. In fact, rows are arranged to discourage wandering. Let the record show that a pupil once remarked that she felt like a sardine. "Mission accomplished!" screamed Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, silently, in her head.
Because Mrs. HM is so fond of routine, she was especially disappointed to return from a day of jury duty to find that a new pupil had been added to her class while she was away. Along with a note from the substitute on top of the stack of papers to grade, proclaiming that New Pupil's book number was 13.
SWEET GUMMI MARY! That meant somebody had been rifling through Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's STUFF. The stuff in the cabinet nearest the door. The off-limits cabinet. The one where Mrs. HM keeps her purse, and various and sundry T-shirts for clubs that The Pony purchases and then forgets to mention until he needs the money right then to take possession of it. Yes. That cabinet houses non-pupil items. Textbooks. Teacher editions. Workbooks with answers in the back. Files of previous classes' test scores. Extra shoes. Dry erase markers. Videos that coordinate with lessons. BEFOULED! All befouled by foreign hands!
So it came to pass that New Pupil Hour rolled around, and New Pupil did not arrive.
"Where is New Pupil? Am I missing New Pupil? Has anybody seen New Pupil?" (Thank the Gummi Mary, the new pupil's name was not Mike Hunt.)
"New Pupil was here this morning, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. And at lunch. I don't know where New Pupil is now."
"Who gave New Pupil a book? Did the sub give New Pupil a book? Because those are all put away. I don't expect a sub to assign textbooks. That's something I usually do myself, you know."
"I gave New Pupil a book."
"Are YOU in charge of this class now? Did you assign New Pupil a seat as well?"
"No. I was just trying to help out. So New Pupil could do her work. She sat over there. On her own."
"I would not have expected her to do work until the first day I was here to check out a textbook for her. Where did you get the book?"
"Out of that cabinet."
"Is that the cabinet that I let pupils look through?"
"Next time, you should leave book-checking-out to me. Now...do all of you think your class got a good report from the sub?"
"We weren't THAT bad."
"I tried to tell them to be quiet, Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. I think it was the loudest when SOMEBODY (accompanied by a steely glare) was looking for a book for New Pupil."
"I would love to spend more time on this inquisition, but FIRST I have to find out where New Pupil is right now." I called the office. "Should I count New Pupil absent?"
"No. New Pupil is still here somewhere. Let me check on it and I'll call you back."
I busied myself writing New Pupil's name in my Old Red Gradebook. The better to keep a record of the assignment turned in by New Pupil, 5/6 done, which I had graded yesterday after picking up The Pony, and had put a note on that said, 'You can finish this and I will give you credit, or I will take this score,' and put in New Pupil's transfer grade for my course that had been stuffed in my mailbox in the teacher workroom.
RING! "Mrs. Hillbilly Mom? New Pupil changed her schedule this morning. So she won't be in your class. Her name should drop off your list by tomorrow."
"But she has one of my books! Number 13!"
"I will call her current teacher and tell her to bring it back."
New Pupil came in after school. While I was grading papers. As per my regular routine. Which does not include moving a college-weight book around on my desk as I redistribute graded and yet-to-be-graded papers until I have time to walk that hefty tome across the classroom to my private cabinet.
Which is not a part of my regular routine.