by Jeff Kinney
I attended an all-boys’ high school, and it could be an unforgiving place. If you were so unfortunate as to drop your lunch tray in the cafeteria, you could count on a ten-minute invective-filled harangue from the entire student body. The law of the jungle ruled in the lunch room, the gym, and the hallways.
The classroom was usually a different story. Most teachers demanded, and got, respect. But if a teacher showed a hint of weakness, they were doomed. One such teacher — let’s call her Mrs. Shropsharp — lost control of her class on the first day and never recovered it. She was frumpy and spoke from the corner of her mouth in a low hiss. Students sensed an opening, and they pounced.
Mrs. Shropsharp’s homework assignments were almost uniformly ignored, and when she handed out detentions, students crumpled them up and threw them in the trash. It was awful, really. (And for the record, I never visited an abuse upon poor Mrs. Shropsharp.)
On the last day of the school year, Mrs. Shropsharp handed out grades. It was a pregnant moment. Since almost no one did their homework, how could anyone receive anything but an F? But I think Mrs. Shropsharp knew that the administration wouldn’t let her fail every student.
So she started going around the room with an open gradebook, telling each student their grade in what was supposed to be a discreet whisper, but instead was a drawn-out hiss that was heard by all. “C,” she said to every single student, myself included, but it came out as, “CEEEEEEEEEEEE.”
Finally, she got to the last student, whose name was Hector. Hector was perhaps the only truly good kid in the class…very quiet and well behaved. Mrs. Shropsharp rendered her verdict: “CEEEEEEEEEEEE.”
Perhaps for the first time in his life, Hector spoke up. “What?” he demanded furiously. “I’m the only person in this class who actually did his homework, and you’re giving me a C?!?”
The room was quiet for a moment, as Mrs. Shropsharp regarded Hector. Finally, Mrs. Shropsharp spoke again, whispering Hector’s new grade.
I still wonder if, with a little more outrage, Hector could have gotten an A.