When I was in grade 3, I had an awesome teacher, let’s just call him Mr. Jones.
SIDENOTE: My first instinct was to call him Colonel Mustard, but then I realized that doesn’t make any sense. Also, “Mr. Jones” makes me picture big man Vinnie Jones stuffed into a suit and tie, standing at the front of a classroom teaching math. Have you ever seen Vinnie Jones?
ANYWAY. Mr. Jones. He was a good guy. I went through a bit of a rough patch in grade 3. This super aggressive, manipulative type who had been held back a year and was therefore a “big girl” in a class of babies, let’s just call her Sara (because that was her name), took me under her wing, and since I was just a dumb little kid,* I did whatever she told me to. Pretty soon I was doing things like cheating on tests (could they really have even been that hard?) and stealing from local grocery and convenience stores. Oops.
Mr. Jones saw immediately what was going on. One day, he kept Sara and I after class to talk to us, and when he started to question us, we both started talking back to him like little third grade bitches (what could we have possibly said? I don’t remember) and that was it. We got in trouble.
I don’t remember going to the principal’s office or anything, I just remember that on that one day, it was real trouble. Did Mr. Jones yell at us? He might have. Or maybe he just got that scary teacher look in his eye. Regardless, I knew it was real. And I was scared, because I’m actually a super goody two-shoes.
I think Sara got into real real trouble, but Mr. Jones just pulled me aside one day and asked me what was going on. It was one of those, “this doesn’t seem to be the real you” conversations, and for whatever reason it made a huge impact on me. Maybe because Mr. Jones really seemed to believe in me. He encouraged me to stop hanging out with Sara and be my own person, and I took it to heart. And it was grade 3, so our friendship ended as quickly as it had began. Things levelled out pretty much immediately (though I was chewing stolen bubble gum for a long time) and I was back to being Andrea, goody two-shoes and honest test taker.
Here’s another picture of Vinnie Jones looking intimidating to keep you going.
About a year ago, I was running way late on a project at a job I kind of (see: VERY MUCH) hated working for a boss who was also aggressive and manipulative. (Her name was not Sara, but we’re just gonna call her my boss. Fresh wounds, y’all.) She had me researching some stuff I was totally not interested in and running errands that weren’t really on my job description (not that I had one).
I had to pick up a couple books, so I ran to a Chapters on the south side, found my way to a computer, and started searching. An older man wearing his Chapters vest (have I mentioned I worked at Chapters once? The worst part was those stupid vests.) approached me with a level of nervousness in his voice that suggested to me he was a new employee, and asked me if I was finding everything all right. I smiled and said yes, thank you, and then I looked at him and froze.
You get where this is going, right?
IT WAS VINNIE JONES.
No, it wasn’t. (I WISH.)
It was Mr. Jones, my grade 3 teacher. He didn’t seem to recognize me, which didn’t surprise me, and he smiled and carried on shelving books. It took me a minute to place him, and then for some reason I felt so weird about it. I found the books I needed, bought them, and carried on with my work day, but I kept thinking about Mr. Jones.
Maybe I was worried that he had lost his job as a teacher and was stuck working at Chapters? (It’s actually a pretty fun job, but the pay is shit.) Maybe my inner child was just totally freaked out that my teacher didn’t live at school and wasn’t a grade 3 teacher 24/7? I’m not entirely sure.
I’d love to say that when our eyes met, I remembered Mr. Jones saying “this doesn’t seem to be the real you” and quit the job that was making me feel like shit on a daily basis, but it took me a lot longer to come to that realization.
But how cool would that have been, right?
It would have made this story make a lot more sense.
Meh, hindsight, etc., etc.
*Just FYI, I don’t actually think kids** are dumb.
**Well, some kids are dumb, let’s face it.