I watched my dad during his last week of work. He was coming apart at the seams. He talked about the importance of his job. “A man needs someone to submit to. That’s why you need a boss.”

“Why?” I asked.

“If a guy doesn’t submit, he’ll become unruly.”

I started working in education and I couldn’t believe the ridiculous things I was asked to do.

“Mr. Johnson, get under the bathroom door and pull that kid out of there!” Miss Helfrich said.

“I don’t want to get on the bathroom floor!”

“Then I’ll do it myself!” She shouted. She slid under the door face-first and terrified Dondre. There was pee all over the floor and it soaked into her shirt.

Upstairs, Nicholas pulled out some scissors and tried to stab me, while Miss Helfrich restrained him. Mr. Oliver was called in. He was our behavior expert, but for some reason, he spent most of his time with me. By the end of the day, I felt like I had an emotional disability.

“Competence can be taught,” Mr. Oliver said. He tried to help our 5th grader with his algebra.

“That’s not right,” I said.

“Oh, I was just showing him that it’s okay to get the wrong answer,” Mr. Oliver replied.

I was in disbelief.

“Mr. Johnson, can I speak to you outside?

“Yes, of course.”

“We must advocate for these kids,” Mr. Oliver said. “That means we present a unified front.”

“But you need to teach them correctly,” I said.

“Are we going to have a problem with you?” Mr. Oliver asked.


The next day, Mr. Oliver met me in the cafeteria. “I got spammed by one of your emails and my computer crashed. Your email is ironman@msn.com, right?”

“Yes, but I haven’t used that account in years.”

He didn’t believe me.

3 thoughts on “The Reason for Work

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