Monday, January 31, 2022

The Principal

This is a short story, actually a very short story. Let me know what you think.

The lockers were beautiful. They were brand new. Every one of them shined. It took him years of careful negotiations to procure them. Other principals said it was a waste, it was an old idea, it would never work. What did they know?

This was his signature achievement, one he’d be remembered for. They made his halls look so sharp. No city high school had lockers like these. Each with its own number, its own identity. Each with equal space inside, and anything could go in them.

But what if, now that you mention it, students put the wrong things in them? That could happen. But I mean, most kids would place their books inside. Maybe they’d store their winter coats instead of wearing them in the building all day. That would be excellent. Even the deaf, dumb and blind superintendent would have to notice him, for once in his overprivileged life.

Once that superintendent saw that his students were walking the halls without winter coats, he’d have it made in the shade. I mean, every other school had kids wearing Canadian Goose Parkas day in and day out, even as the custodians pumped the heat so high you’d think they were trying to simulate summer.  

It would be perfect. The superintendent would come for the quality review and see a different kind of school. His school wouldn’t be like anyplace else. Why, it was downright unhealthy, those kids walking around in hot buildings with those heavy winter coats. The would, you know, sweat. It can’t be good for them to sweat all day. How can they learn geometry like that? How can they conjugate verbs like that? How can they do anything?

With the new lockers, grades would skyrocket. SAT scores would be through the roof. And those Regents exams, the ones that kept kids from graduating, well, his kids would just breeze through them. Who knows? Maybe he could enroll all his newly comfortable students in AP courses, and the sky’s the limit. He could be in one of those best schools in America list in US News. Was US for us, as in we, or USA? It didn’t matter. Maybe he would be the next superintendent.  No more quality reviews for him.

He’d be giving the quality reviews. Those principals without lockers would be at his mercy. Why didn’t you put lockers in the halls? Look at all those sweaty teenagers. They can’t focus, that’s the problem. If only they weren’t walking around in those frigging parkas they’d be able to concentrate. This is your fault. You’re ineffective is what you are.

And his wife, she’d look at him differently once he was superintendent. His kids too, No more staying out who knows where, who knows when. No one does that to a superintendent. Sure, he’d have to start out as assistant superintendent, but that would be temporary. Surely he’d get another flash of inspiration. Surely he’d get an idea even better than mere lockers. It was a simple matter of time.

Maybe a year or two of sucking up to the supe, but how was that any different from what he was doing now? And it would be other people he’d be apologizing for. No more yes, sir, I’ve started remedial classes to make sure they pass the next English Regents. No more no, sir, we haven’t found out what happened to those brand new American Stratocasters in the boxes, but we’re working on it. We’ll surely get to the bottom of this. And no, of course we won’t be wasting any more precious funding on musical instruments.

On the other hand, what if the students didn’t leave their coats there? What if they put other stuff there? Damn. He could have a whole school full of kids hopped up on who knows what. They could get all excited. No one could control them like that. Not the teachers, that’s for sure. They couldn’t even control the kids now. How many times did he have to walk into classrooms and take the hats away from kids, four, five at a time sometimes. Imagine, wearing hats. In his building.

What if the superintendent came in and saw all those hats? What kind of quality review would that be?

And it wouldn’t stop there. There are worse things. Knives. Switchblades. Chef’s knives. Those chopper thingies. He could have kids chopping pieces of one another off, right there in those halls. In his halls. How was that going to make him look?

And it would get worse. They could place guns in those boxes. Handguns of all kinds. Jeez you could fit a sawed-off shotgun in there and have some kid bouncing all over the place like Omar from The Wire.

Maybe a bunch of kids could disassemble some kind of assault weapon and he’d have one of those school shootings that always happen in those other states. The president would send thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers.

And worst of all, he’d never make superintendent. Just one incident like that, and your career was stalled. It would take years to make up for something like that. At that rate, he could be fifty before he made superintendent. But the time he was up for chancellor, he’d be in some damn wheelchair. Unacceptable, unacceptable, unacceptable.

That was it. No student would be allowed to use those damn lockers. Not while he was in charge.

blog comments powered by Disqus