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And the Phone Rings

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Seventh Grade Afternoon, Act I:

My fourth hour class is finally settled. Finally. Three phone calls for sick, hurt and suspended students, their books, and their backpacks to be sent to the office. Hormones raging, voices raising, pencils sharpened, restroom needs taken care of, and journals slowly finding their way to desk tops. I am launching into the vocabulary for the day and have just flicked from the first to the second slide of my PowerPoint presentation.

And the phone rings.

"Ramsey's Crazy House," I announce with a hint of frustration.

"Um, yeah. This is Lisa from XYZ Publishing," a young voice chirps.

How in the world did this call get patched through to my classroom?

"A friend of yours recommended you to us. Do you have time to answer a few questions?" she continues. Sure, I think to myself. I'm not doing anything important right now. Meanwhile, twenty-eight puberty-stricken teenagers are staring at me and slowly slipping back into their frenzy of uncontrolled commotion.

"What 'friend,'" I seethe.

Lisa completely ignores my question and charges forth with her sales pitch. "We know you are going to be happy to forge a relationship with us," she crows.

"Look," I reply, "I am standing before a bunch of kids, and I really need to get back to my lesson. Perhaps you can just leave your name, and I can call you when I get a moment." Like I ever will have a moment for you lady...

She ignores me again. "I understand," she says. But she continues nonetheless. "Just tell me your name for our records."

"I thought my 'friend' told you all about me," I growl as two boys get up from their seats to tussle over the last apple left from breakfast. I give them my best menacing teacher look.

"Oh yes," Lisa giggles. "I just wanted to know what name you want us to use as your author name."

"I'm busy."

"Well, I can call back then. What is your number?"

"The number you just called!" I shout, pounding on my desk. Both boys return to their seats, and the apple remains on the counter.

"Okay," Miss Happiness exclaims. "I'll call you back later! Congratulations on embarking upon this exciting new adventure!"

I slam the phone down and announce, "No one answers that phone if it rings again!" And the vocabulary lesson is re-started, the apple is ignored, and adolescence is controlled - at least temporarily.

***

Seventh Grade Afternoon, Act II:

Last period is definitely not a class that needs interruptions.

And the phone rings.

“Cristian” jumps to answer the phone for me. “Tell them I died,” I say.

“Mr. Ramsey’s class,” he says into the receiver. “Mr. Ramsey died.”

The boy proceeds to stand quietly holding the phone for two minutes. Finally, he holds the phone out to me and says, “She said to put you on the line.”

I take the receiver, sigh, and say hello.

“What is that boy’s name?” the secretary demands angrily.

“Cris,” I reply. “Why?”

“I’m writing him up,” she says.

“Wait...wait,” I insist. “What did he do?”

“He told me to go die. I’m reporting this to admin,” she announces.

“No! Please don’t. He is a crazy kid, but he didn’t say that!! He was just telling you what I told him to say!”

“What???”

“I’m sorry!” I say with a laugh.” It’s Friday. I’m tired. I told him to just tell whoever the caller was that I died!”

“Hmmm. Okay,” she mutters slightly convinced and probably just as tired. I’m sure I can see her rolling her eyes. “Well, could you send “Theo” to the office?” she continues. “He’s going home.”

She pauses and then adds, “Get some rest, Mr. Ramsey.”

Copyright, Tim Ramsey, 2018.

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Tim Ramsey has been an educator since 1983.  He taught middle school and high school for 15 years and served as a school administrator for 15 years before retiring in 2013.  He returned to the classroom where he now teaches writing to seventh graders by day and reading to college freshmen by night.  Tim is an avid writer and has been featured in six Chicken Soup for the Soul compilations.  In addition he has received several first place honors from the Arizona English Teachers Association for its annual “Teachers as Writers Contest.”

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Guest Saturday, 23 June 2018