Thursday, February 9, 2012

Poor Eating Can Lead To Blockage

I taught middle school with a woman several years back who I'll call Pat Arnold.  Mrs. Arnold, by even the most generous allowances, was massively overweight.  She was in her early to mid 40s and would definitely be required to purchase to two airline tickets if she were flying.  Pat taught a different grade and was in a different part of the building so I'll confess that I didn't get to know her very well.  I'm guessing teaching was a second career for her, and likely because she thought it'd be easy and she'd get her summers off.

During her first year Pat earned a pretty solid reputation as a lousy teacher with poor management skills, but for whatever reason, administration brought her back.  The legend (and her waist size) continued to grow in year number two.  Students reported that Mrs. Arnold didn't stand while she taught, rather wheeled around on her desk chair.  They also indicated that she didn't stand for the Pledge of Allegiance with the exception of the time she was being observed by the principal, and in that instance didn't seem to know the words.  There was also a rumor that she once ate an entire fried chicken in front of the class during instructional time.  Again- it's hard to know where the line between legend and reality is sometimes in a middle school, but regardless, Pat was let go after year number two.

Due to program and other personnel changes that off season, the principal moved a lot of classrooms around and I wound up being assigned to Pat's old room.  The desk was disgusting! The top middle drawer where pencils are typically stored was a collection of salt and ketchup packets from an impressive variety of fast food restaurants- some located no where near our school.  The whole structure had this sort of greasy film covering it, similar to what you find on the inside of the paper that wraps up your double cheeseburger.  This whole environment was going to need an awful lot of Pine Sol.

After a day or two of cleaning, a few bags or garbage, and plenty of disinfectant Pat Arnold's memory in the room was fading fast.  I had a few bulletin boards done, and the computer was hooked up and running (and while I hope this story encourages responsible eating, because I know that all people must eat I won't describe what sorts of things were shaken out of the keyboard because it could possibly permanently ruin your appetite).  I noticed that the principal had emailed out a copy of the new schedule and I printed it off so I could hang for quick reference.  This was the first time I'd used this particular printer, a standard issue sort of printer for a desk top computer, and when the paper moved from the back end where it was loaded and tried to draw through towards the front it quickly jammed up.  Something was blocking it's path through the machine.

I looked down the opening to see if I could see anything.  There was definitely something down there.  (Reluctantly) I plunged my hand into the printer opening with hopes of removing the obstruction.  My fingers wiggled in the depths of the crevice, when I finally found it.  It didn't come out on my first pull.  This baby was really stuck.  I tried again... success!  I slow raised my hand to see what I had dislodged.  There in between the ring and middle fingers used to yank the object loose was caramel covered walnut.

Of course I have no idea how the walnut got inside the printer.  But I imagine Pat Arnold sitting at her desk behaving like Gremlin- wildly tearing apart some pastry or candy bar while giggling psychotically as the outer parts of the food item broke off and flew erratically like a space ship burning up in orbit, chocolate on the corners of her mouth, and crumbs all over her shirt & lap.  Like I said though, the line between legend and reality in a middle school is often hard to locate...  

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