Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Mr. Greenburg was standing in the hall when the father of one of his students came in. The father was there because the kid was in trouble in one of his other classes, but was doing OK in his class. Mr. Greenburg could understand how the kid might not be getting along well with some teachers. Three days before, the man's son had taken off his shoes and socks, and was biting his toenails in the back of the classroom.
Mr. Greenburg asked the kid to please not do that during class, the kid complied, and that was the end of that.
"Mister," the man said, shaking the teacher's hand. He reeked of cigarettes and something else Mr. Greenburg could not quite identify. Was it alcohol? He couldn't be sure.
"You Jew?" asked the man.
"What?" asked Mr. Greenburg, a little stunned.
"You Jew? My son tells me he has a teacher, and he's a Jew. But he says you're one of the good ones. Not like the other ones. You know what I'm talking about."
Mr. Greenburg knew exactly what he was talking about. But he looked at the man, maybe twenty years older than he was, and decided nothing he said was going to make any difference to the older man's well-engrained point of view.
"Thank you for coming in," He said. "Excuse me, I have a meeting."
Mr. Greenburg rushed off importantly.
What would you have done?