How I Learned to Stop Trying and Love the Bullshit

Last week, I posted the following on my personal Facebook:


And I was overwhelmed by the need to share a story there because it spurred a memory that NEEDED to be shared. Sort of. Probably not. But I was going to share it anyway and I needed space to properly regale.


Once Upon a Time…

In a far away land called Minnesota in a middle school there lived a crazy substitute teacher who somehow became permanent staff. She taught Reading which, really? Not English, not Lit, not Grammar. $^@#%$ READING.

She loved to wear this crazy hat when she had recess duty. Why would I remember such a fact? Because she informed us, every time, that it was her BAHAMA MAMA HAT. I can’t make this shit up, my friends.

Reading involved a surprisingly little amount of actual reading. My hazy mind remembers something dubbed “circuits”. One day we had to complete a worksheet, one day we might get to read a chapter of something, I think there were film strips or microfiche involved somehow. And we rotated. All this meant to me was I got to fool around in a different section of the room for an hour every other day and throw notes across the room to my friend.

Literally. We THREW WADS OF PAPER ACROSS THE ROOM and Bahamamama remained oblivious.

Somewhere, probably the early depths of the 90’s interwebz or a dusty teacher basement, she found these giant packets for us to slave over. Like @#%! fifty page packets of shit. They were bound with industrial staples. One packet was for Proper Note Taking, there was a Good Study Habits Guide and my favorite, and clearly the most remembered, Time Management Skills.

These were all probably skills I could have honed a little more and benefited from later in life. However, I assumed I was too damn smart for my own good. Maybe a little entitled. And lazy. Whoa, shit I was lazy. Still am. I perfected that skill early and without effort. I’m awesome.

I faked my way through the other packets but I just couldn’t be bothered with this Time Management shit. So I just didn’t do it. Never even put my name on it. Buried it in my locker. I think we had a month to complete each novel of worksheets. She could have given us a year, it didn’t matter. I wasn’t touching it.

The time did come to turn them in, as generally happens with homework. The gigantic waste of paper was collected and towered on her desk. Two weeks went by, that tower growing lower as she graded. I was minding my own business, writing a response on a crinkled ball of paper, prepared to heave it behind me. The tower was gone.

Bahamabadmamajamama beckoned me.

Getting up slowly, I heeded her call. Plaid skirt rolled one too many times. Yellow peter pan collared shirt half untucked. Unsuccessful in my uniform quest to climb the food chain of popularity.

I put my most responsible face on. (Lesson One: Game Face)

“Where is your Time Management packet?” asked Bahamamama.

“I turned it in.”

“It wasn’t in the pile, are you sure you turned it in with everyone else?”

“Of course! Remember, I asked you if we had to track time for the whole day or just the time we were in school?”

Lies. LIES. That one page I glanced at while deciding not to do it sure came in handy, though. (Lesson Two: Details. Or at least A detail.)

“Hmm. Ok. Well, I trust you. You’ve always turned things in on time. I must have lost it.”

MUST HAVE LOST IT. (Repeat Lesson One: Game Face)

“You do such good work, I’ll just go ahead and give you an A”.


I retrieved my jaw gracefully from the floor, wiped the smug grin off it before I reattached it to my pubescent face and gloatfully, yet subtly, skipped back to my desk before she could change her mind. (Lesson Three: Hasty Retreat)

I had discovered a power within. One that would continue to grow with me as classes got harder, papers turned into essays, tests into exams, due dates into deadlines, school into a career.

Sometimes life experience is better than work. Especially if the experience got you out of doing the work in the first place.


To be fair, I do have terrible time management.