Training Day.

5 Feb

Did you know that I work? I have a job. I have a job I go to in the daytime. It’s physically demanding, emotionally straining, and–I’m kidding. It’s really easy. I could cut both my legs off and still perform this job like its nobody’s business.

Bet five.

No matter how easy I may think this job is, though, there is still a certain level of formal training that’s required of me.

Before I begin, let me say this–I’ve had a lot of training days. These things usually revolve around terribly-produced VHS films from 1997, telling me about the joys of working for ____ and the exciting opportunities awaiting me at _____.

When I was training with Wal-Mart, I had a woman who told us that–no joke–we then had two birthdays: the day we were born, and then the day we were born into the Wal-Mart family. I would describe my reaction as “horrified disbelief.”

A little over a week ago, I went to a training session for my new job as a tutor for kids who aspire to attend college after graduating high school.

Slightly hung over and running on about three hours of sleep (My birthday was the day prior, and to celebrate, I helped a friend dig his/her/it-was-definitely-a-her car out of a muddy ditch at 4am. Happy birthday, Kyle.), I stumble into the training room. I am at least five to ten minutes late. I look like either a homeless person. Lacking time for proper cleaning after getting my friend’s car out of the ditch, there are still traces of mud and silt on my palms. On top of that, my shirt has a hole in it and my hair looks like this:

This...but like on my head.

I lumber quietly to my seat at the circular table as my boss begins speaking.

“Today, we’re going to really focus on what makes this program so special and how–”

I fall asleep, and my head hits the table with a deep thud, halting my boss in his tracks.

“Oh Jesus!” I yelp, jerking myself upright.

“Is everything all right, Mr. Irion?” Mr. Cook, my boss, asks.

Rubbing the spot of impact on my head, and little dazed, I respond. “Good. I’m good.”

Our first activity of the day is to go around in a circle and say one success and one failure from the year.

My friend Will speaks first. “Okay, for my success, I’d say helping a few of the students get all A’s, and for my failure, I’d say me not being tough enough on the kids.”

The group then turns to Lauren, the next in line. “My success is helping Taylor work through some hard math problems she had and my failure is…I guess whenever we couldn’t find an answer to Javier’s chemistry problem.”

Now, it’s my turn. “I would say, as far as success and failure go, that Ray Leeden is a success and Loren Stills is a failure.”

What follows is a silence so sudden it’s as if the room itself is gasping. Then a girl across the table actually does gasp, as if the girl across the table is gasping–because she is. She is gasping. [Editor’s Note: Are you even trying anymore?] There’s a gasp from the other side of the table.

I turn to Mort, who’s sitting next to me. It’s his turn now.

“It’s your turn, now,” I say. I wait a few seconds, then look around the table with a look of “What’s up with this guy?” plastered across my face. I then ask them, “What’s up with this guy?” jerking my thumb in Mort’s direction. Mort simply reaches up and, without saying a word, grabs my thumb and lowers my hand to the table.

“Mr. Irion,” Mr. Cook says in a slightly hushed tone. “We don’t talk about the students that way. They aren’t ‘successes’ or f–”

Mr. Cook goes on to explain how the kids shouldn’t by typified as “successes” or “failures,” because by doing so we run the risk of pigeon-holing them mentally–the result being that we don’t try as hard to push them, because to us, they already are what they are. At the end of his speech, I nod quietly, turn to Mort and tell him it’s his turn now. Mort just shakes his head “No,” and we move on.

Next, we outline our goals for the next few months. Here’s what I wrote:

A few hours in, I start to really grind. I’m constantly fighting the seductive temptation to sleep.

Go ahead, Kyle. Sleep is natural. Everyone needs it, Sleep calls.

Stop it, Sleep! Stop it! You know very well that I can’t go to sleep right now.

Oh? But I don’t. I see a jacket you could easily roll up into a ball and–

Are you serious? If you say “Sleep on the floor,” I’m going to wait until midnight tonight, then drink three Monsters and start chasing stray dogs until 6am. We’ll see how good you feel then.

No! No! Don’t! Can you imagine how tired you’d be after chasing all those dogs, though?

I…I suppose I’d be very tired.

Stray dogs are very fast.

Stray dogs are very fast. And they always know the best hiding spots.

They have to be fast–because the world doesn’t slow down for vagabonds.

No…no it…doesn’t… I fall forward and my head smacks the table again.

“Salt and pepper!” I yell and sit back up, holding my head. “Damn it.”

“Kyle, seriously,” Mr. Cook says.

“Bruise City!” I say, pointing to my forehead, which will soon be renamed Bruise City. I start to eye the coat that Sleep showed me. I then allow my vision to drift to a shady spot under a table on the far side of the room. “Mr. Cook, may I ask a question?”

“Go ahead,” he says, completely exasperated.

“Will there be a nap time today? Because I am very tired and I–”

“–Get out.” Mr. Cook interjects.

“Get out?”

“Get out. Get out of here.”

“Am I fired?”

“Get out.”

“Okay, so I’m not fired. I’m not fired, right?” I gather my things and begin to make my way to the door. Mr. Cook is standing at the head of the table with a clipboard holding our agenda for the day.

“Please leave, Mr. Irion.”

A little concerned now, “Okay, well, I’m just going to reach my arms out here–” I open my arms to hug Mr. Cook “–and I’m just going to let ’em fall where they fall, and if they land in a place that makes us best friends then that’s just fantastic–and we don’t fire best fr–”

“Oh my god, Kyle, get the hell out of here before I call campus security.”

“Okay, okay. I’m out.” I grab some pens off the table and turn to address everyone before I walk out. “These are my birthday presents, understand? These are my birthday presents from all of you since you didn’t get me anything else.” Will looks like he’s about to say something, but Mrs. Rodriguez holds her hand to him to gesture silence. “Goodbye, everyone,” I say. “I’m sorry you didn’t get to say your successes and failures today, Mort.”

Mort stares at me blankly then then puts a few pens in his right hip pocket.

I really hope I can make the football team.

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2 Responses to “Training Day.”

  1. greenchikin February 8, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    When i read the title, i was certain i was in for a tale of our gym exploits together! Alas, I was mistaken.

  2. Mrs. Rodriguez May 29, 2010 at 8:40 pm #

    Mort…ahhhhh!

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