Under The Bus

The potential closing of Patriot High School is approaching like a potential rogue wave, and the principal is flailing dangerously at everyone around her, pulling them under the water in a desperate attempt to stay afloat in the no-show position she’s been comfortably occupying for the last five years.

When the Quality Inspection folks and their hunting dogs tore through the place last week, word is that when they confronted Chief Big Hands with her many glaring shortcomings, she blamed them all on her own secretary – a kind woman who has been serving principals at Patriot High with loyalty and class for over thirty years.

“‘Oh I didn’t know,’ said Vicki, mimicking the principal. ‘My secretary handled that.'”

“Sheeesh,” I said.

“That ain’t nothin’,” continued Vicki. “Remember that guy that worked in tha attendance oowafice uh few years back who died? Well, when we got audited, guess who they blamed everything on? That’s right, Pistol. A dead man. Imagine that. Tha poah guy’s body is still wooahm, and they’re already throwin’ him undah tha bus.”

Well, the long tradition of throwing subordinates, dead or alive, under the proverbial bus continued this week when Dave received a letter in his mailbox to “Report to the Principal’s office to explain your absence on Friday”. People who get sick on Mondays and Fridays are met with special animosity by the administration. It’s all part of their mission to save the school from the corrupt teachers and secretaries who are clearly causing the precipitous demise Patriot has experienced every year since the current Principal took over.

Dave showed the letter to Flint, “Doesn’t this amount to harassment?” He asked.

Flint grabbed the paper out of Dave’s hand and looked at it. “This is jsut a memo,” he said dismissively. Then, as if to emphasize his point, he crumpled the paper into a ball, leaned over, and rubbed it furiously up and down against his ass before tossing it on the floor. I made a mental note to do the same thing to the “memo” I was sure to receive after the Monday I planned to take off next week.

Then Flint said to Dave, “Do me a favah though, and hold onto that. Cuz I’m gonna need oowall of those when I file tha complaint.” Dave chuckled as he slowly un-crumpled the letter and tried to wipe the wrinkles out against the surface of the desk.

Later in the day, Dave went to the Principal’s office to speak with her about his transgression. “She’s out sick today,” he was told by the red-faced secretary. Oh, the irony.

Another two days passed before he was able to track down the elusive beast. And this is his word-for-word account of their meeting:

“It was actually kind of nice in there, because when I went in -”

“She was doing nothing,” I predicted.

“Absolutely nothing. She was sitting there, all splayed out with her mouth open. It was like she was paralyzed. What’s that movie about the guy who can only move one eye? Have you seen that?”

“Oh, The Butterfly and The Diving Bell.”

“She was like that guy,” said Dave. “She just followed me with her eyes as I walked across the room. Maybe a little spittle coming from the corner of her mouth. But otherwise I would have thought she had just died of massive heart failure. Seriously. Like she’d found a better place. She didn’t even say anything either. I had to start it, ‘So I was out on Friday because…’

She had absoultely no clue why I was there until I said that. But that kind of broke the spell and then she says, ‘Yoah out a LOT.’

‘Twice,’ I say. ‘I’ve been out twice. Is that a lot?’ And there was this long silence.

And her head is still tilted to the side. It hasn’t moved yet. And she says slowly, ‘Is that it?’

And I say, ‘Yeah.’

And she says, ‘Oh.’

And when I left she didn’t even say thank you. I could tell she kind of tried to, but it was like a barely audible grunt. Next time I should just throw up right on her desk and say, “Yeah I’m still not feeling very well.'”

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