The prompt was: Write a letter to a teacher who gave you a hard time. I wrote a letter to Mr. Crumley...my 7th grade math teacher.
Dear Mr. Crumley,
Of all my memories of 7th Grade, the memory of that fateful day in 4th period math takes the cake.
You were a very scary teacher. You yelled a lot. I remember one day when a kid spoke out of turn, you responded by kicking a book across the room. Scary stuff.
I was a shy kid. I didn’t get yelled AT, and I didn’t do anything that made you angry but one day, I was an accomplice to the scariest moment of all. My friend Lisa sat in front of me in your class. One day, my desk would periodically shake. I didn’t realize what was happening until after about 10 minutes of this, Lisa turned around with a desperate look on her face. She had a violent case of the hiccups. She was in pain. A contributing factor to her immense discomfort was the fact that she was desperately trying not to make a sound. Not even a peep. She was holding them in and making herself miserable. She very carefully whispered “Heather, I have the hiccups really bad. What should I do?”
“Did you try holding your breath?” I offered
“Yes. It doesn’t work. I think I need some water!”
She said the words and knew immediately she wouldn’t be asking to get a drink. You simply didn’t approach you during class, Mr. Crumley We never knew how you’d react. Asking questions was out of the question.
The hiccups continued.
Finally, Lisa turned around to face me – at great risk, I might add. Turning around and facing the person behind you was hazardous in your class. “I’m going to ask for a drink” she said bravely.
I saw the desperation in her face. I saw the fear. I said “Do it. It will be okay. He’ll let you go.” And the deed was done. I knew I had influence with my friend and that I would bear some responsibility for the outcome.
She got up out of her chair. I breathed deeply…said a little prayer for her and watched. Slowly, she made her way to your desk. You had your head down, reading a book.
Her voice shook as she asked you “Mr. Crumley, may I get a drink, I have the hiccups really bad.”
You didn’t look up. You didn’t move. You didn’t answer. She waited.
She looked at me with a puzzled look on her face. She looked back at you. Nothing.
She opened her mouth to ask again, thinking that her voice had not been loud enough and it was right then that you jumped up out of your seat and yelled:
“YOU WANT TO GET A DRINK OF WATER!!??”
My friend jumped and screamed! The entire class gasped. My heart stopped beating for a brief moment, I’m sure of it. Lisa looked horrified. Then there was silence.
You sat down, looked over at her and said very calmly, “Do you still have the hiccups?”
Lisa blinked her eyes, swallowed hard and paused for a moment before saying “Um…I don’t think so.”
“Good. Then you won’t need a drink of water then. Sit down.”
The whole class burst into nervous laughter…everyone except Lisa and I…we waited until after math, when we were safely outside the classroom. We’ve been laughing about it ever since!
I suppose that day I learned that even though you were scary, deep inside, buried amidst all the mean, covered by a layer of stern, you had some fun in there. I’ve made a point of looking for the better part of people ever since.