Tag Archives: education

My First Day at Work

15 Nov

“Morning? What?” I ask, confused.

“What do you mean ‘morning? what?’,” my father asks. “Are you asking me what ‘morning’ is?”

“Yes. What is that?” I lean over the counter, intrigued.

My father closes his eyes and starts massaging the bridge of his nose. He then looks up to the ceiling and quietly asks “Where did we fail him, Paula? Where did I fail him?”

“Are you telling secrets to mom’s ghost again, dad?” I ask, hands on my hips, smiling.

He seems shocked. “Your mother’s ghost? Kyle, mom isn’t dead. She’s just at work.”

“When mom goes to work I go to Frownie Village.”

“What? You go where?”

“It’s in ‘Hungry City,’ the biggest city in ‘No Clean Laundry County.'”

“If you’re insinuating that you don’t have food to eat or any clean clothes to wear because your mother is at work, you’ve got somethin’ else comin’.”

“What is coming? A maid?”

“No! You’re twenty-two years old, Kyle! You can make your own food! You can do your own laundry!”

“Maybe. But tell me more about these mornings!”

The next day, at roughly 6:50am, I wake up to start my first work day. This is easily the earliest I’ve woken up since…since the last t…since ever. I turn off my alarm clock and roll out of bed. I roll onto the ground, then roll to the shower, where I roll into the tub, roll around in some soap, rinse, then repeat. I turn off the shower, and roll into my room. I accidentally roll over a cat. I roll over to the linen closet, get a pillow case, then roll to the garage to get a shovel. I put the cat in the pillow case then roll out to my neighbor’s back yard. I put the cat in the ground and roll back to my room, where I put on my clothes for the day.

I finally get some coffee in me at roughly 7:15am. I stand up, absorbing the rich, full-bodied flavor. My mother walks into the kitchen.

“This coffee is delicious,” I say.

“Where’s the cat?” my mother asks.

I watch a little bit of Today then head out to my car. My neighbor is in his back yard, staring at a small pile of dirt. I honk, run my finger across my throat, point at him, then mime firing a machine gun and point at his dogs, who are barking at me from beyond his chain-link fence. He cocks head, then his eyes drop back to the dirt on the ground. He begins to dig with his hands, furiously.

The drive to Fredricks is uneventful, but scenic, so I enjoy it. I sip my coffee and look at the beautiful landscape. I see three dead things on the side of the road.

At around 8:10, I arrive at Fredricks High School. I walk in, get my badge, and walk to my class room. Looking around, I can already tell I’m going to be the most popular boy in school. Soon after I get there, the other tutors (tooters. lol.) trickle in one by one. Their names are Lauren, Marie, Ashlyn, and Mort.

“What kind of a name is Mort?” I ask when he introduces himself.

“I think it’s Germanic, maybe.”

“I think it’s creepy as hell, maybe.” He starts to protest, but is immediately halted when I put my hand up for a high five. He can’t resist. I receive my high five and walk to my first group of kids.

I’m observing for the first week, so today I sit with Lauren and her group. Lauren is a petite, blond number. She’s cute, except for one horrific, disgusting growth on her left hand that some people would refer to as a “wedding ring.” That’s okay though, because I have a name for things like wedding rings, kids, and restraining orders: Details.

The process of tutoring is thus:

  1. The students go around a circular table, one at a time, presenting a question to the group.
  2. The group then takes turns asking more questions and discussing until the answer to the original question becomes apparent.
  3. The student who asked the question is then graded by the tutor on the intellectual depth of the question.

The first girl goes. She asks a question about the primordial soup.

“Did the first living organisms in the primordial soup travel by cilia or flagella?”

“Primordial soup?” I ask. “The first living organisms on this earth traveled via legs, feet, and wings.” I make a face like “WTF” and look to the other students in the circle.

Lauren interrupts this awesome moment. “He’s kidding, Gabriela. Does anybody have any insight?”

“The Bible does, ” I say. I clap my hands together, bow my head, flap my arms like wings and point to the sky. “All glory to Him, who invented Jennifer Love-Hewitt,” I say to myself. Speaking up to address the group, I continue. “The Bible told me that there was no primordial soup. God’s more of a salad guy.” I wink at the kids. They don’t get humor. They just get pregnant. “Okay, let me break this down for you–”

I’m immediately interrupted by Lauren again. “Kyle, I appreciate your religious perspective, but we should really stick to the curriculum, and the curriculum states that the first organisms in the primordial soup were probably single-cell prokaryotes, and they travel by flagella–”

“–straight to Hell!” I say. Lauren is about to object when I raise my hand for a high five. She starts again and I point to my hand. “Up high,” I say softly, she high fives me. Then, I slowly bring my hand down to the level of the table. Speaking softly, I say “Down low,” she lowers her own hand and we touch. I curve my fingers to create an “O” shape. “Now stick your finger in the hole.” With the slightest trepidation, she reaches out and puts her finger in the hole. I hold it there for a moment. I lean in to her face, so close our lips almost meet, and just below a whisper say “You clean my toilet bowl.” We look to each other with a longing that is deep and timeless.

“I clean your toilet bowl,” she says.

The rest of the day is a blur of study questions, Twilight references, and huffing dry-erase markers in the boys bathroom with some kids in my class.

Work is good.

The End.

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School Daze With Captain Cool

1 Oct

Today I went to my sister’s school and taught a few classes a brief lesson on creative writing.

All the students file into the room. All the chairs and desks have been pushed to the corners of the room, so all the kids just sit on the ground in front of me. It’s 8:30 am. I’m kind of hung over. My head is pounding and my stomach feels like there’s somebody throwing up in it.

“All right. Well, my name is Kyle Irion. You can call me Kyle, Mr. Irion, or Captain Cool. You can also call me Mr. Cool.”

One little boy says “Yes sir, Captain Cool.” This boy has gained my favor. In the event of a zombie outbreak, I will save him first.

“OK. Now. I’m going to teach you guys a lesson about writing, because one day, you’re going to need to learn to put your thoughts onto paper. When you get older there are things called ‘essays,’ which are pretty much long answers on tests. It’s important because even if you don’t really know 100% what you’re talking about, you can still seem like you do if you know how to write. One day, you may even go to college and major in writing essays. That’s what I did as an English major.

“There are a couple of really important things to remember when you’re writing a story. First, you need characters. You need people to do the things in your story. Some times, the people in your story will have sex.” I make an “o” shape with one hand and poke my pointer finger through it. I nod at a boy in the front. He looks scared. Why the fuck does he look like that? “Why the fuck do you look like that?” I ask him. He doesn’t answer. He just cries or some shit. I can’t remember. “Your characters may also kill each other. Your characters should be realistic and believable. For instance, if you were to put me in a story you might say ‘Kyle is thinking about killing this crying child in the front.’ –That’s believable. You’d be damn right. I want to push this kid into a river. But you know what? I don’t know where there are any rivers around here and I don’t want this kid in my car, so how do you explain this to your readers?” I look around, waiting for an answer. A little girl raises her hand.

“You tell them all that stuff?” She asks.

“Yes. that’s exactly right. That’s exactly right.” I hand her the crying kid’s wallet, which I had taken moments prior. She slowly reaches over and hands the child his wallet back.

“OK. We’re running short on time, so I think it’s time for you guys to get started writing. Here’s the prompt: you’re on your way to complete a quest. Your goal is in sight. Then, as if out of nowhere, an obstacle presents itself–and the only person that can help you is your neighbor. So pick someone around you to help you succeed. Give your story a title and write ‘The End’ at the end. If you have enough time after you finish, you can draw the art for the cover.” These instructions seem pretty clear. “Any questions?” I survey the children. An Asian boy in the back raises his hand. “Hit me with it,” I say.

“Well, can we be on a mountain?”

“Yes. You can be anywhere you want. Anybody else?” A little girl in a purple shirt raises her hand. “Yes ma’am?”

“Can we have swords?”

“You can have whatever you want and be wherever you want. It’s all up to you.” A portly Hispanic boy raises his hand. “What’s up?”

“Well, does it have to be today?”

“It can be with anyone, anywhere, and anywhen.” This is not a word. “You could make your story set in 1998 or 3008.”

“So 2000 is OK?”

I sigh deeply. “No. Don’t set your story in the year 2000. Don’t do that. If you do that, you fail. You will be the only student in the room who gets their story graded and you will fail.” The class lets out an “Ah” of understanding and hurriedly gets to work.

——

When they get done they all read their stories aloud. Here’s what I gathered from the stories I heard. All children’s stories follow four simple rules:

  1. Everybody has powers.
  2. Everything can talk.
  3. Ninjas, monsters, and other characters can appear out of anywhere by simply writing “And then ____ showed up.”
  4. No character ever questions anything, no matter how bizarre or nonsensical.

——

Here are some of my favorite (real) moments from the children’s stories:

Dylon could shoot doo doo out of his hands.

Then Kerry got eaten and I was disappointed.

The British soldiers were chasing me, trying to take the crystal cheese.

The Booger monster was attacking. I went to the kitchen and got some tissues and some scissors.

I was building a mountain of candy and then I found out that I didn’t have any chocolate bricks.

Me, Cameron, Ashley, and David were walking to school. Then a ninja jumped out. Everybody died except me.

Kids are badass.

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