Thursday, December 09, 2004

Paddy Wagons Are Not AWD
It’s been a crazy couple of days at the Shitty Educational Campus. I should have known things would go badly when three trains passed me by in the morning, too full to board. A freezing rain was coming down in sheets, and the wind blew out my umbrella when I finally made it up to the Bronx. I was soaking wet and shivering when I scrambled into my morning class, operating sans coffee and my morning muffin, as the late bell rang.

Things were nice and calm for awhile. The rain had the kids sleepy, and Roulo and Colombia and Frankie (there’s been no sign of Maria for weeks) were so enthralled with the packets of condoms, lubricants, and dental dams they had all somehow acquired from the clinic that they weren’t distracting anyone but themselves.

Once the second half of the double period rolled around, though, things started to pick up. Kids began coming by and poking their heads in my door’s window, and as soon as they did Roulo and Colombia began asking me for the bathroom pass. I wasn’t dumb enough to say yes, but this action in the hall gave birth to new life in my students, and the noise level began to rise.

Roulo held up a tube of strawberry flavored lubricant.

“You know what’s dat, Mista?”

“Yes, Roulo,” I nodded.

“What’s dat? What’s dat is, Mista?” Roulo persisted. Perhaps he had seen the beginnings of a flush flooding my cheeks and ears.

“Lubricant, Roulo. It’s lubricant.” I decided the fact that it was flavored lubricant was extraneous information.

Roulo most likely knew damn well what the tube was, but I figured I might as well be honest with the kids about this stuff. They obviously need all the help they can get.

“Why you need that, Mista?” Roulo now had a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

I began to attempt to explain why one might need a tube of Astro-Glide, when Colombia stood up, removed the dental dam (a safe-sex tool I myself was not before familiar with) and held it up for all to see. He glanced back and forth between the instructions, which showed the crudely rendered outline of a naked woman with a shaded rectangle over her genitals, and the fruit roll-up looking piece of plastic, then screamed, “Ewww!”, and tossed both to the floor.

Roulo retrieved the dental dam and held it at arms length with his nose upturned.

“Wha de fuck?!” He yelled. “Mista, you know what’s dat?”

This one was going to be even tougher to explain.

“It’s to prevent getting an STD from oral sex,” I attempted, and thirty kids stared back at me blankly. Normally in such a situation I would attempt pantomime to get the meaning across, but felt that might be inappropriate in this case.

Mercifully, I was once again interrupted, this time by an announcement on the loudspeaker stating that no passes of any kind were to be given out and all “comp-time persons” were to report to the halls. That’s code for some serious shit is going down, watch the fuck out.

A few minutes later another announcement crackled forth. No passes were to be given for the rest of the day, and comp-time people need to get to their positions now. Something REALLY bad was happening.

Gangs were rumbling. Bloods vs. Bonez. Blacks vs. Dominicans. Fights broke out all over the school all day long, over a dozen in all including a massive rumble in the lunchroom. A number of kids were sent to the hospital, including one poor soul whose eye was impaled by an umbrella, and at least as many kids were arrested and dragged off in handcuffs by the police.

The cops were everywhere, at least a dozen on each floor, strapped, and dressed to the nines in their bullet-proof vests.

I dashed out during my free period to catch some air and grab a sandwich from the bodega and saw police cars parked everywhere, stopped at all sorts of odd angles all over the sidewalks and driveway. Two paddy-wagons were right in front of the school’s front doors, but it was another paddy-wagon that caught my eye.

Some dumb cop, drunk with the awesome power of having the authority to disobey parking laws, had decided to park on the lawn in front of Shitty. I guess he didn’t notice the torrential downpour occurring or the fact that very little grass actually grows in the dirt, now mud, in front of the school.

The van was stuck. All four wheels buried at least a foot and a half in the mud and a thick spray of that same mud spread forth behind onto the sidewalk and the front of the building from where Officer Dumbass had spun out, stomping away on the gas, digging himself deeper and deeper.

The van was still there when I left in the afternoon. They had a tow-truck out and a thick metal chain, but had succeeded so far only in breaking part of a fence separating the lawn from the driveway.

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