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Saturday, November 29, 2008

The DarkSide

A lot of people have started asking me to re-post some of my stories from my days at The DarkSide. Since I'm on my way out to my high school reunion I will here tell you how it all started. The moment I knew for certain... I had sold my soul to the devil, and He does NOT offer a money back guarantee.

My first interview at The DarkSide proved relatively uneventful. The educational director assured me that I had nothing to worry about as there were only 74 other applicants for this one position. That was meant to be encouraging how? But then, what choice did I have but to wait? There was no way I could stay at my current job. They didn’t pay nearly enough to endure that much torture on a regular basis. So I waited. And waited. And waited.

When the phone finally rang and they asked me to come in for a second interview, I damned near swallowed my tongue in my haste to say yes. This time I got the grand tour including the classroom of heathens that I would be working with if I were lucky enough to beat out the other 10,000 applicants for this position.

Miss Davis, the educational director, dropped me in a classroom and simply said she’d be back for me in twenty minutes. The door slammed shut behind her and I was relatively certain I heard her mutter something akin to “sucker” as she walked away. Then I turned my attention to the three adults in the room who were trying desperately to keep the peace, two of them failing miserably.

One of the guys in the room, obviously desperate to escape the children who were busy happily tearing the place to shreds, practically attacked me.

“Hey I’m Dan.” Oh goodie. He held out a relatively meaty paw and pumped my hand vigorously. Ex-football player. Had to be. “So you’re interviewing for this classroom?”

“No. I just like to visit out of control classrooms across the country. I actually work for NASA.”

Miss Davis finally came back to get me forty five minutes later at which point she followed me out into the lobby and reminded me she’d be in touch. I thought, Yeah, don’t call us, we’ll call you.

The funny part is, they did call. About two weeks later to arrange the dreaded orientation. Why did schools have to torture people with two weeks of some old timer babbling about policies and procedures when most of us could easily read them for ourselves?

The orientation lineup: an ex-corrections officer, an EMT, a crazy ex-Marine, and a fat guy. Not to mention the guy leading orientation. Scott, a 33 year old who used to be a gang liaison in the inner city, spent 5 hours of each day flapping around like a speed freak, swearing and yelling about how to react to a kid “in crisis”, whatever the hell that meant. I think he was having some kind of crisis of his own.

Now, I have spent many years getting educated in order to go out into the world and teach children. When I was an undergraduate, my textbooks featured photos of angelic little children sitting in perfect rows, perfect smiles plastered to their perfect faces. Might I just say that these children simply do not exist in real life? I’ll tell you about a real child…a real child in middle school is a dirty, smelly, noisy beast that will, at the drop of a hat, call you a dirty white whore and stab you with a pencil just to see what might happen. Then, 30 seconds later, with their nose dripping and chunks of crayon stuck in odd places, they will ask for a hug because they’re so mentally and emotionally spent from life in general that they just need a HUG dammit!

And I will love these children. I will love them with all my heart. This is why I will get up every morning to repeat my maddening routine of fighting to get a cup of coffee into my system before 8:15 am so that my speech patterns are at least somewhat intelligible by the time the children get to class. See I will be teaching English so it’s rather important that the little miscreants be able to understand what I’m saying. And so I began my descent.

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