Teachers are fast becoming the postal workers of the modern era. There was a time back before the Commies ruined everything, back when June Cleaver made dinner and sucked Ward off and liked it, when being a mailman was as noble a trade as a young boy could aspire to. Great poets and songsmiths of the era composed ballads about heroic postmen, urging them to look and see, look and see if there's a letter in your bag for me. Please, please...please, please, please. It was a glorious time to work for the United States Postal Service, and a glorious time to be alive.
And then what happened? Well, Bukowski the drunk came along and wrote about how miserable his experience delivering the mail was, and a few postmen snapped at the portrayal and decided to bring firearms to work and kill everybody. And by a few, I mean 17,000. Next thing you know, the term "postal worker" began to have a negative connotation, like "politician" or "abortion doctor," and society's whole perspective changed. It was no longer "Hey, how's it going, Steve?" "Fine, plenty of mail for you today, friend." It became "Leave the NetFlix on the doorstep and get the hell off my porch before I shank you in the larynx, psycho."
Sad, sad, sad.
And now teachers are beginning to be viewed in a similar light. And not just because they're all poor, but because there have been a couple too many bad seeds. What's So Funny's certainly had his share.
I'm old enough to remember a time when computers were not the ubiquitous, soul-devouring, attention-obliterating machines that they are today (check out my myspace profile -- new bio, new blog, new pics!). Back in the day, computers were curious blinking devices stored in small, cool rooms, usually near the math department. Sometimes Mavis Beacon would appear on the screen and teach you typing. Other times, strange green geometric shapes bounced across the monitor while some confused geometry teacher imparted a tech-savvy message like, "Geometry involves shapes, just like the shapes inside this box!"
At my school, nobody really understood why these computers were important; we were just told they were. And because of their importance, schools like mine hired "computer" teachers. They were odd little men, squirrelish and insular, who smelled of wires and mouse pads, cheap deodorant and unidentifiable goos. No one ever looked forward to going to computer class, because there was just something weird about it. And one day we realized what it was: Our computer teacher was fucking nuts!
We were at recess, playing soccer, when our computer teacher surfaced from his lair and began playing. It was a bit strange, but not unprecedented; that kind of bonding was encouraged at my school, though no one really enjoyed it. Several minutes later, in a scene witnessed by many, the man just snapped and began whirling about in a tangle of flailing limbs and screaming, a modem about to explode. And then, suddenly, he began to punch and kick the children. Many of them. Hard. He was fired by the end of the day.
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We all thought this an isolated incident. Sometimes teachers do bad things, we figured -- until a few years later, when our music teacher was given the boot for sleeping with an underage student. Not a girl from the school, but underage nonetheless. Wow, we thought, these teachers are truly a strange, volatile, fucked-up breed.
And last week, Mark Asimus, an English teacher at West High School, did nothing to help dispel this notion. While other teachers in the area were simply enjoying their summer vacation, Asimus was hard at work on the Internet, trying to get fourteen-year-old girls to beat the shit out of each other. An investigator with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office ably played a young teenager online, while Asimus ably played the nutjob willing to pay for her to beat up a friend. Asimus didn't want sex, he didn't want dirty talk, he just wanted a heated girl fight, he wanted to see blood. He was promptly nabbed at the park where the fight was to go down.
That's creepy with a capital "Insane."
Teachers of the world, I'm not saying you are all crazy. I've spent a great amount of time in a great many classrooms, and by far the vast majority of you are sensible, rational beings. But there is no denying that there is something about your profession -- call it the pressure, call it the poor paycheck, call it No Child Left Behind -- that tends to make the weaker among you snap in very wacky ways. My advice to you is this: Seek out those unsettled members of your clan and remind them why they got into the profession in the first place. Talk to them about that first time they taught a child to read or to bludgeon another child with a dodgeball. Implore them to turn to a colleague when they start to boil over, not to the Internet or an underage student or a soccer field at recess. Tell them that you are there for them, always. But most important, tell them how one day, not so long ago, there was nothing wrong with being a postman.