okay. so i made a deal with God the other day that no matter what, he can’t send me to Hell.  he can think i deserve it someday, for whatever  reason.  but if all things stay as they are, he’ll have to pick a battle.

usually when i get to school, i organize my desk.  i set strait the 40 dollars worth of staplers that i bought at the start of the year.  they have all been mutilated completely. i had a student the other day ask for one.  i said, “try everyone one, but i don’t think they work.  why don’t you try and fix them.”  I clean the desks, sometimes spray them, organize the cabinets, and set up the papers on a desk with a yellow table cloth.  sometimes i sit back in my seat before the kids come in.  i admire how neat things look, all swept up.

by fifth and sixth period it’s a different story.  I’ve given up on passing out papers even though ive asked the students to raise their hands for one,  for the seventh or eighth time.  i’m looking out the only window that’s not frosted over, at the interstate.  i give myself twenty seconds to ask God  to make a detour with my destiny. i ask him to make me a toll booth operator somewhere way out in New Jersey.  it wouldn’t even have to be anything high up, an entry level position would be fine with me.

one time i counted thirty paper balls thrown in my fifth and sixth period class.  this is the period that comes to me directly after lunch.  they are great, they are nice.  they are running around the room with all my unhinged staplers, shooting staples out at each other from across the room.  they all complain about the cafeteria food, so i thought, “what are the feeding you in there?” i raise my voice, i slam the door, i turn off and on the lights to get their attention.  sometimes, if they are really being loose, i bring in mr. thompson.  i square it away with him, right in front of them, that if they don’t shape up, i’m holding the class for after school detention.

sometimes it works for a minute, but then when mr. thompson leaves out they all go back into their staple-shooting Westerns.  at the end of the day i go over to my pencil sharpener.  there are so many lead carvings dumped on the counter that i yell “come out!” to the mouse in the wall to say that he’ll have a homey habitat to sleep in for the night.

sometimes i think of cleaning up all of the empty Dorito bags wedged under the desks at the end of the day.  but then i hear the trashcans being rolled down the hallways by the nice Spanish cleaning team.  i have the tendency to run with my heavy briefcase out of the room before they can make it in. since i knew i couldn’t hide from them in the locked girls room across the hall, I’ve had to think up other means to back myself up.  now when i stay after school to grade, i think up the words that i got the Spanish instructor to tell me, and say “kids, sugar, chips, hyper, lunch” before they can empty out my trash can.

at home i keep things pretty clean. i told myself that despite what things look like at school, everything is neat and put-away.  but then i got a black cat that decided to spray all over my carpet so that i knew he was boss.  so…my point is, God can complain about me all he wants for things that i did way back when, on earth.  But if he’s got plans for me in some Underworld then it better be the likes of something completely different than the insides of a paper-trashed classroom.


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