I didn’t get in trouble much in school for two reasons… I’m a people pleaser and didn’t want to disappoint anyone… and the fear of having to eat pork n’ beans. You can read more about that here.
The only time I remember being reprimanded at school, I mean really reprimanded, was in 8th grade. The punishment came down quick and the sentence was carried out just as quickly.
It’s a story that my friends from back then probably forgot about, a story that I doubt I told my parents, but it’s one the lesson stuck with me to this day.
It all started like this. We had just finished physical education class and were walking up the long hallway away from the gym towards the classrooms. I was near the back of the pack. There was a drinking fountain on the left that some kids stopped to get a quick drink at.
Not me. I did a quick sinus snort and spit right in it and kept walking like nothing was wrong. My P.E. teacher saw it and shouted my name to stop me while all my friends kept going. He caught up to me, grabbed my arm and drug me to that drinking fountain.
“Did you do this?” he asked pointing to the trail of spit. I didn’t lie. I knew I was caught. There was no detention for this. I was told to immediately find the janitor, apologize for what I had done, and then clean it up right then.
So, that’s what I did. I scrubbed and cleaned that sink until it shined while the janitor supervised. Lots of students passed in the hall and laughed at my situation. It was embarrassing but it taught me an important life lesson about respecting others and the work they do.
Until that moment I had never really thought about what a hard and thankless job our janitor had cleaning up after a school full of teens and preteens. After that, I made a point to say hi to him whenever we passed in the hall.. and to this day I have never again spit somewhere that would require someone else to clean it up.
Would some today criticize my P.E. teacher for grabbing me, yelling, and making me stay out of class to clean up my mess? Perhaps, but I can tell you this, the lesson I learned in the hallway that day was more important than anything I learned in the classroom the rest of that week.