So one of our assistant principals got sent to the legendary, almost mythical, Rubber Room this week. You know, the controversial site where educators who have pending misconduct charges against them go until the charges are either upheld and they’re fired, or the charges are dismissed and they’re allowed to return to normal duty. The process, and hence a teacher’s time in the Rubber Room, can last months, or even years. I’ve heard that the charges are usually dismissed, but it’s hard to verify this because, again, the Rubber Room is shrouded in mystery.
Some say it’s a hellish place that reeks of hopelessness and insanity. Yet others believe it to be a kind of misty Shangri-La, where you get paid to hang out and do nothing. The only thing I know for sure is that all you have to do is literally be in a room for the length of your contractual day while you wait for your case to wrap up. There are no other duties or responsibilities. You can fill the time however you choose: sleeping, working on your charcoal drawing, doing yoga, running your on-line business, polishing your magic act, whatever.
I’ve heard that some people consider it a good place to go at the end of a career, kind of a gentle ramp right into retirement. But again, the real nature of the Rubber Room is elusive since it’s a pretty sensitive subject to bring up with the few people who have actually been there. And then of course there are those that go and never make it back. And you can’t ask them either.
Dave and I are intrigued by the Rubber Room. We think it has a lot of potential. Dave is a bit more enthusiastic about it than I am because he is planning on quitting next year anyway. He runs a relatively lucrative copper-wire-recycling operation on the side and has come to the point where, financially, he believes he can afford to give up teaching. And for the sake of his health, he feels that he can’t afford not to.
Some of my readers may question the wisdom of purposefully trying to get sent to a purgatorial holding pen full of accused perverts, delinquents, cheats and psychos. I would remind you, however, that I deal with these kinds of people every day anyway, and if the balance, in your mind, is still weighted in favor of Pistol doing an honest day’s work over Pistol milking the system and looking out for numero uno, just pour yourself a tall glass of Perrier, sit back, chill, and let me regale you with a little story:
On Tuesday one of our students was attacked by four other students with an axe.
– The End.
but the thing you cut down trees with. Actually, it was a fire-axe, so I should say, the thing you chop down buildings with.
He suffered two large gashes in his head, and three gashes in his back. He also lost a finger. That’s a lot of swings. He needed 140 stitches and a whole bunch of staples, but he survived. The cops said that when they found him, he was just standing there, looking like he’d just climbed out of a swimming pool full of blood. Apparently a girl hacked at him first. Then a boy took the axe from her and continued the chopping. Ponder that for a few seconds. Imagine the scene as the Perrier tingles your gums.
It happened across the street right after class and there wasn’t even an announcement about it the next day, not even to the deans. Because it happened on the way home from school, we did have to suspend, so the one dean who dealt with it did know. But no one else did. I first heard about it from one of my students in fact.
“Yo, Mistah, you heard about that guy dat got chopped with tha axe at the stoah?”
“Across tha street, yo. They chopped him innis neck!”
“Nah, I don’t know about that.”
“Yo, go to dat stoah, and axe da Bangladeshi guy dat works der to see tha video. You gotta see it Mistah!”
“You saw it? He showed it to you?”
“Yeah, he’s cool, Mistah. Just axe ’em ta see the axe thingy. Fo’ real, I didn’t think people could do somethin’ like that.”
Later, I just happened to ask a security guard how she was doing. “I just want this day to be ovah,” she said. “There’s an eerie feelin’ in tha buildin’ today because of what happen’ yestuhday.”
“You ain’t know? They didn’t brief y’all? They should be briefin’ y’all. They attacked that boy with that axe.”
“Oh, yeah, I kind of heard about that.”
“Well, they all talkin’ and whispering like somethin goin down today. It’s them Hispanic gangs.”
So my readers, how’s that balance looking now? Proceed directly to the rubber room and do not pass Go, right?
So, now that we’ve determined that I should indeed be in this padded paradise, now it’s just a matter of how to get there, and safely back again.
I brought the issue up with Dave. “So I was clearing the halls and I went into the exit and all those bastards that hang out there, like Jamel Henderson and his crew, scattered like roaches and ran up and down the steps. I know they’re not scared, they just run because it’s fun. And once they’re out of sight, one of them stops, turns around and screams, ‘PISTOL! SUCK MY DICK!’ I couldn’t see him but I’m pretty sure it was Jamel.”
Dave seemed a little bored by the story, as if he was still waiting for me to tell him something he didn’t know.
“So, without even flinching of course, I just walked back into hall and calmly continued to clear, because I know we have to have a thick skin to do this, and honestly it didn’t bother me. I know he’s a moron. He says shit like that every day. But then, it did start to bother me, not that I was insulted or angry at him. It just bothers me that we have a job where we have to put up with that. That that’s considered normal. I mean, what other job requires people to take that kind of abuse on a daily basis? And remember, we are providing a free and vital service to these kids, and that’s what we get in exchange?”
“So, I was thinking after it happened though, that that is the perfect kind of opportunity to get to the Rubber Room. I should have just yelled something right back at him. They couldn’t see me because they were already down the stairs, so there would be no real proof that I said it. And he deserves it anyway, you know? So, I think I’m just gonna start dishing it right back to them, and either nothing happens and I get to fuck with them, or I they file a complaint and I get sent to the rubber room. It’s a win-win.”
“That’s what we used to do at my old school in the 80’s,” said Dave. “When they ran from us we’d scream, ‘You fuckin’ pussy!’ And you could hear them trailing off in the distance, ‘Fuck YOOOOoooouuuuuuuuuu…….'” We both chuckled and then Dave looked a little wistful as he thought about the old days.
“Well, so later in the period,” I continued. “I was actually kind of flirting with something like that when they called on the radio to get all the bodies coming out of exit 8 like 20 minutes into class, and I took this one kid’s ID and he was like, ‘What this nigga takin’ my ID for? Look at awll these other people!’ And I said, ‘I know their names already.’ And he’s like, ‘Yo, you betta. What the fuck wrong wit this nigga?’ And fucking Thomas Franklin is one of the other kids walking by and he’s like, ‘That’s because this school’s retawded!’ Retarded, he says. He’s 20 motherfucking years old, and he’s in a high school running out of the stairs in the middle of the period and we’re the ones that are retarded. So I said, ‘The school’s retarded, huh, Thomas? And how old are you again?’ ‘What the fuck is that supposed to mean?’ He says, but he kept walking. But maybe, if I’m lucky, he’ll report me for calling him retarded. Something like that might just work. And I didn’t really call him that anyway, so ultimately I’m safe.”
“I’m definitely gonna make it happen,” said Dave. “I mean, why not?”
“Yeah but I have heard it’s a pretty screwed up place. Everyone’s all depressed there. And they get in physcial fights over chairs and things. It’s like a prison envrionment. I mean I can’t imagine being brought up on misconduct charges as a positive experience. Let’s be real.”
“Listen, I would find it positive. If there’s one thing this place has taught me, it’s that I am not like other people. These people that actually LIKE being in a classroom all day? No, I would enjoy it. How couldn’t I?”
“Well, there’s like a hierarchical system in there, though. They don’t let the new people get a seat and stuff. It could suck.”
“Listen, I’ll sit on the fucking floor. I don’t care. And I’ll sit there and I’ll write my novel.” He stared into the distance and smiled, as if he had just been set free. “What’s not to like? I mean, I’m sure there’s a lot of psychos there, but I don’t have to talk to them. If they’re loud, I’ll wear head phones. I’ll wear ear plugs. It can’t be worse than this. There’s no way.”
“Yeah, true. Well, like I said, I am thinking of talking more shit to the kids. And I think I might start knocking them down in the hallway too. Just the assholes, of course. ‘Oh, it’s on camera? Hey, it was an accident. It’s a crowded hallway!'”
“Would you act apologetic?” asked Dave.
“Just dead-pan apologetic, like “Oh sorry. You okay?” The problem there is what am I gonna do when he jumps up swinging at me? Break his nose? That could get messy. I mean it’s self defense, but… you also run the risk of getting stomped out in front of the entire school.” I flinched at the thought. “The crowd would be goin’ fuckin’ nuts. And I’d come up all torn up and bloody and swollen and spitting and punching walls like the kids do, all held back by security and screaming shit like, ‘I put motherfuckers in the hospital! He don’t know who he messin’ with!’ Hahaha!”
“What about just throwing a kid up against the wall like that assistant principal did?” Said Dave. “That could be perfect.”
“It’d have to be a small kid though,” I said. “I don’t know. I’ll probably get sent there anyway for missing all these faculty conferences. I missed one again on Monday and I got a letter.”
“That’s it!” Said Dave. “Just walk into her office when she calls you in, and light up a cigarette. She’ll be like (speaking like a globulous mass), ‘Waaa? Waaa? Waaa -rrr you doooinnng?’ And you say, ‘Oh sorry. You got an ashtray? No?’ And then just stub it out in a coffee cup. Or what if you walk in there with dog shit all over the bottom of your shoes? And she’ll say, ‘Waa? Wasss that smellll? Go! Go! Go!’ And you’ll say, ‘Uhhh, okay.’ And just track it all over the rug. Or how about this one? I’ve been thinking about this one for a while. What if I started speaking with a Chinese accent at work? Seriously! Could they fire me for that? Think about it. This is just how I talk!”