Do you ever have one of those remembrances that makes you shudder from embarrassment and hope your name is the easily forgettable kind?
I thought of one of those the other day, so, of course, I immediately wondered, “Why not share it with the whole wide world on the internet?”
Here is that story.
Since I was 17 when I entered college, that means I was a whoppin’ 20 years old when I started my first full time teaching job in 1988.
I was as mature as any average 20 year old, which is to say, if you had a child in my third grade class that year, I am very sorry. I really am.
I remember that my salary that year was $15,250, which meant I was RICH! I have always been, how shall we say, careful with a dollar, though, so I never was one to blow it as soon as I got it. I made sure to think long and hard about how to spend the money I made.
So, when it was time to sign up for “Secret Pirates” at school (a form of secret pals, named after our mascot, the Pirates. See how clever teachers can be?) I gave it careful consideration before joining in.
The idea was to draw a name, and then throughout the year, sneak gifts into that teacher’s mailbox or onto her desk. At the end of the school year, there would be a party to reveal all Secret Pirates.
I drew the name of the tallest, most intimidating teacher in the school. She was really old, like 40, and taught The History of Shakespearean Literature in Mesozoic America or some such thing in the Jr. High. All I know is I taught cursive handwriting and multiplication and thought she must be very intelligent because she had an exotic accent.
I believe it was mid western. She sure didn’t speak Texan, like I did.
“Ah thank her daddy made his meeee-yuns in the aaawl bidness.” [tall teacher translation: It is my understanding that her father accumulated his wealth in the petrol industry.]
So, I tried all year to carefully choose gifts for her. Toward the end of the year, I gave her what I meant to be her last gift, since it used all the money I had budgeted for Secret Pirates. Probably some peach scented candle from Wicks ‘N’ Sticks at the mall.
The day after I gave her that gift, it was announced that the end of the year party was coming up and we should plan to give our best gifts then and reveal our identity.
I didn’t want to spend any more money, because I had plans to buy a Bon Jovi record and some flesh tone panty hose, plus I had an appointment for a spiral perm that weekend. But who wants to show up empty handed at a party?
So, I figured the perfect solution was a pack of gum.
Oh, yes I did.
Nothing says “You are special.” like a pack of wint-o-green Extra.
I’ll never forget her opening that gift bag, which I’m sure cost more than the gift. She looked from the gum – to me – and back again at the gum.
A hush fell over the room. I could tell exactly what she was thinking. “Where is my Kuntry Kitchen rag doll made from a mop head or dangly apple earrings or ‘Teachers Have Class’ sweatshirt like the other teachers got?”
I can’t remember how the party ended, just that I wanted to crawl under the pleather recliner right there in the teachers’ lounge and never come out.
The moral to this story, friends, is Don’t Let Your Frugality Hurt Those You Love.
Or Those To Which You Have Been Assigned to Give Gifts.