The faculty had been polled by the DOE, and they overwhelmingly declared they had little confidence in him. How could this happen? Didn't he wear a tie every day? Didn't he observe their classes and tell them every little thing he could find wrong with them? Didn't he offer them severe looks when he couldn't decide what to actually say about them? And didn't he make sure they actively engaged in his crucial anti-bullying initiative?
There could be only one answer. It was Susan, the UFT Chapter Leader. She had poisoned the staff's minds with her vitriol. Wasn't it she who persuaded him not to give a U-rating to that upstart librarian, after she had the effrontery to challenge his taking a reference book out? After all that he had done for her, the ingratitude! Why did he let her scream at him like that? Why didn't he just nip it in the bud? Nip it! That's what he should have done! And yet, with her in his face like that, it was so hard to speak.
He hastily called a cabinet meeting, to discuss her undue influence and what could be done about it. The English AP, whom he had never liked, suggested his popularity had waned when he placed multiple letters in files about the failure to enforce the anti-bullying campaign. She brought up that damn To Kill a Mockingbird again, and had the audacity to repeat the notion that the book actually addressed bullying. It was time to nip it in the bud! Nip, and nip now!
First of all, we're talking about bullying, he told her. How on earth can we do that if we're promoting books about killing innocent animals? It's our job to protect the innocent! How can we do that if we're teaching our children stories about killing cute little birdies?
The English AP, for once, was speechless. It was about time he put her in her place. He had done it. It was nipped!
And yet, the following day, Susan barged into his office and went off on a rant about how he had no right to blame her for his bad rating. This was unacceptable. There was a rat in his cabinet. He could trust no one. How could he nip this in the bud? And in fact, if Susan had a secret informer, wasn't it already out of the bud? How, then, could it be effectively nipped?
He searched his mind for a suitable comeback, but found none. He thought of giving the wayward librarian a bad rating anyway, but then there would be Susan, screaming at him again, and things would be so far out of the bud there would be no nipping them at all. The only thing to do would be to undermine her awesome and inexplicable power over the staff. But how?
This would take some serious thought and preparation. He steeled himself for a long and arduous battle.