This is the second installment of my Post Office Protest. It is not necessary to have read “Hippie Speedball,” but this essay is a continuation of that same story, my day of protest, out in front of the local newspaper.
Ten Hours of Sleep
When I looked up, Randi was heading right for me. I was talking to a guy, who was railing on about the vineyards, that were visible against the distant hills, and I figured one was about the same as the other. And then it hit me. I had nothing but time for Randi, for the first time in my life. I always welcome diverse perspectives, but I never used to be able to do her justice, because teachers do not have the luxury of slowing the freight train down; if they do, it may never start up again, at least without ten hours of sleep. If I had ten hours of sleep, I’d be so happy, I’d sit up and watch it all night.
We talked about her kids, and determined that four had been in at least one of my classes, at some point in time, going back to the spring of 1990, when I student-taught in Mrs. Loeser’s class. I will never forget standing up in front of Johann’s class for the first time, listening to the words coming out of my mouth, and wondering idly who was speaking. It couldn’t have been me, because I was hiding under Mrs. Loeser’s desk, hoping that no one would notice.
Now she was looking at the third of my four foam-board placards, covered with neatly typed essays, pictures, and information about the whole flapdoodle with the local paper. Randi told me that she had cut “Yes, Virginia, Men Do Clean Toilets,” and taped it to her refrigerator. When I say I was honored, I kid you not. If she liked it that much, then who was I to argue? You see, I had this idea this morning when I was once again kicking Kaiden’s College Fund around in my head. What did I have that I could offer for an auction? Not much.
I do not have much, unless there were more of you out there who thought “Yes, Virginia,” was worth putting up on the fridge, or “The Queen of Tarts,” or “Howie.” Because if you thought that some of my essays were worth reading, and you were willing to plunk down a buck, into Kaiden’s College Fund, then we might get a twofer out of the deal.
The KCF would get a dollar, and you would get an essay, or twenty. Whatever. If it’s going into the KCF, then it’s great success. I thought about shooting for fifty cents, but by the time 2030 rolls around, inflation will easily double it, so why not build that in?
Back to the post office. I have a lot more to say, about my encounters, but I want to get to the crux of the matter. I have a beef with Susan. She cut off my email connection to her newspaper, so that I could no longer have the unmitigated gall, to ask embarrassing questions. If I were her, I would have cut me off too. No one likes a pest, especially one who keeps tripping over his mustache.
Out into the parking lot swooped a bicyclist, sweeping and flowing around the contours of the lot, checking out my foam board, innocuously getting his bearings.
“Howdy!” I greeted everyone the same, continuing on to identify myself, with first and last name, and one sentence, “I survived taught middle schoolers for sixteen years right over there. Of course the first time I said that and tossed my arm out in the general direction of the school, I found upon closer exam, that I was actually pointing at that remnant of an earlier era, that stands between the parking lot and the school. Realizing that it was hard to determine what might have been taught in that rust-colored metallic bell, I adjusted my arm to the middle school.
“Hello, I’m Roland.” Recognition of the name came instantly. Skateboards, Eli, friend of Jayma. Oh, an emissary. I guess that’s good, since I can no longer email Susan, and have no desire to do so in any case.
“So you’re here to check it all out. Excellent! I am a fan of forward progress.” I wondered if he had an agenda, or detailed plan. Was this a reconnaissance?
We talked for a while, I filling him in on the logistics, he listening politely. After explaining how there were three articles on one email, one of which had been published, while the other two had not, and how Susan had denied getting the second and third articles, he interrupted me to exclaim, “But Susan didn’t get all three articles, she only got the first one.”
“So she says, but Roland, how is it possible? How can an email decide in mid-stream, to just play hooky, with two-thirds of the message? It does not compute.” I was frustrated by this avenue of discussion.
Then came the question. “How do I know you didn’t doctor this email?” pointing to the email on the foam-board, which said, “This is the Evidence!”
I could only stare in disbelief. “You think I created this controversy, because it will help the family of Jamal?” I thought I had a better handle on Roland.
“Well, I don’t know!” So we were back at square one. I have some technological evidence that suggests Susan is fibbing, but Roland tells me that is not the case. I have years of being treated to the arrogance of the local newspaper, and have only just spoken to Roland for the first time. Which was more worthy of my trust? Was that a trick question? I guess I have to capitulate. I do not want to carry this out any further.
“It was a new day yesterday, but it’s an old day now.” Jethro Tull