Stand Up Guy
In high school, our AP Economics teacher was also one of the sponsors of our Senior Class (to collect dues, advise event planning, etc.). One morning, she started her class with “the importance of being responsible” and proceeded to tell the story of a senior girl who claimed to have paid her senior dues (that were due that day), but could not show a receipt, and therefore would not be attending the prom happening that week. The teacher verbally lambasted this girl’s character, calling her a liar and telling us that her tears were not going to change the situation. All of this while never admitting any fault for record-keeping (which was shoddy at best) or ever once giving her any benefit of the doubt.
When it was ultimately revealed who the girl was through our questioning, and we found out that she marched next to me in drumline (who i talked to everyday, who worked to take care of her family and didn’t have a lot of money as it was), I went ballistic. “She’s one of the most responsible people in our class! There’s NO way possible that she didn’t pay her dues.” Down the hall, I could feel this friend’s tears, knowing that she had just saved enough to buy her dress the previous weekend and had finalized her plans. Our classroom rallied behind me, pleading with our teacher to give her a break or some time to pay it back, even if it was her fault. But the teacher was relentless. “Sorry, rules are rules, Mr. R___. I can’t just let anyone who claimed to pay their dues waltz into prom, now can I?”
I got angry as the argument went on for a few minutes, and our teacher became jovial in her steadfastness. And just when I was about to say something that would jeopardize my own graduation, I realized that weeks before, I had put my checkbook in my bookbag to pay for my own dues! I dug into my bookbag and found it, and quickly wrote out a check for the dues (it wasn’t much and i had been working a lot to save for my car). While the rest of the class carried on with the argument, I stood up, walked down the aisle to the teacher’s desk, and the teacher became noticably angry. “Mr. R___, you need to get back to your seat, or I will write you up for insubordination!”
I said loudly, “Here, this should cover it.”
The room got silent–like when-you-drop-your-lunch-tray-in-the-middle-of-the-cafeteria silent. I stood firm, though my voice began to quake. “And I am not leaving until you accept this check and I receive my receipt. This girl deserves to go to prom like everyone else, and I will NOT stand idly by and watch this happen to one of my friends.” (not my most poetic moment).
She looked at me. And back at the check. And then with fury, she took out her receipt book and wrote my receipt while saying snidely, “Well, I applaud you for your heroism, but she won’t always have someone to bail her out when the time comes.”
“She will as long as she is my friend.” And with that, I took a receipt for my victory back to my desk.
I wanted to tell her where she could stick it, but I had already done enough. I saw the girl moments later when class let out, and was greeted with a huge hug and tears rolling down her cheek. Apparently, word traveled quickly. I never asked for the money back. She had gone through enough.
A year later, the teacher was suspended because she was trading extra points for beanie babies (something she was doing for a while). She ended up teaching somewhere else but ultimately died a few years ago because of a botched gastric bypass surgery.
TL;DR: I stood up to a teacher so that a good friend could go to prom.
Entry filed under: Inspiring.