Cell Phone

2:55 p.m.

Kids moving out of the room at one door, homeroom kids entering at the other door. Everyone talking at the same time. Everyone moving at the same time.

“Can I go to the restroom?”

“Can I go see the counselor?”

“Can I go to the library?”

And the phone rings.


I answer. “Ramsey’s crazy room.”

The assistant principal laughs.

“Oops. Yes, sorry, uh, how can I help you?”

She laughs again. “Can I add a little more crazy to your afternoon?” she asks.


“I need to go to a district meeting. Can you be admin for the rest of the afternoon?”

“Sure,” I reply, knowing full-well that the hour after school is usually a busy time full of drama.

I hang up and inform my homeroom kids that I am now the assistant principal. “Get in your seat. Get this room clean. No messing around. I have my suspension powers back…”

I head out to duty, wave cars through the lot, high-five kids, and answer questions from my peers.

Then I head into the office. A customer is waiting!

Ernesto, from my morning class, is fuming alongside his math teacher. She holds his phone and informs me that he had multiple warnings. I inform the boy that his parent will need to come to the school and pick it up. Steam pours from his clenched face.

I call mother. She can’t get there before closing time. Ernesto is yelling. A few four-letter words escape his mouth. I relay his happy message to mom. She says she will get her husband to come for the phone. No mention of the kid.

I finally get Ernesto into the dean’s office. We sit staring at each other. He tells me exactly what he thinks of the situation. “She better not have taken my SD card!”

I tell him to chill, and we can talk to dad. “How far does he have to drive?” I ask.

A sigh of disgust. “He is only three miles away.”

We stare at each other again. Then he tells me about former teachers who have really made him angry. I tell him I know all about them. I’ve read his file. “I’ve had you almost a year,” I say.

He snorts.

“So now you hate me too? Just because you got your phone taken away? You know the rules.”

“No, I’m not mad at you. You listen to me.”

I’m trying to kid, I think to myself. I know of your past outbursts.

“Look,” I say aloud, trying to keep the peace. “You want your phone. I want to go home. How long is it going to take your dad to get here?”

“Probably thirty minutes.”

“Thirty minutes? You said he was three miles away.”

“Yeah, you know, traffic is pretty bad this time of the day.”

“Sure,” I say. “What does your dad look like? I’ll keep an eye out for him.”

“My mom says he looks like a hippie pirate.”

I see a little of that in his son.

We resume our staring match.

He breaks the silence. “I need to look up something on my phone!”

“You can do that when your dad gets here. Sit back. Relax.”

“I need to look up legal things.”

“Sure. Just a few more minutes…unless the traffic is bad, of course.”

He snorts again.

“So, you ARE mad at me,” I say.

“No,” he replies. “You listen to me. You talk to me in jokes. You calm me down.”

“So, have you heard the one about the boy who comes into the office and…”

The boy rolls his eyes.

Finally, the hippie pirate arrives. I hand him the cell phone and think of asking him for a few gold coins. I refrain. I explain our cell phone policy, and the pirate agrees.

I shake dad’s hand and thank him for making the three-mile journey. He orders his son to walk the plank…er, move toward the front door.

The little pirate takes a few steps and then returns to my temporary office. “Bye, Mr. Ramsey,” he says. He gives me a hug.

“Let’s try again tomorrow, kid,” I say. “No more trouble with that phone or it can’t come back to school. I have better things to do with my time.”

The office ladies are getting ready to leave. The office lights are off.

And I return to my classroom – a mere teacher once again – who needs to plan for tomorrow.

Copyright, Tim Ramsey, 2019.

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