and THIS is why we can’t have nice things!
J stood at the wooden door – the door that had just been refinished last year – waiting for me. J was always waiting for me after lunch. He didn’t have me as a teacher, but he liked to talk to me and harass the girls that were in my English I class. So today I was not surprised to see J waiting for me, hands thrust in his pockets, whipping his Justin Bieber hair back and forth, squinting his blue-blue eyes.
J stood at the wooden door – the door that had just been refinished last year- and on this wooden door, written in beautiful black Sharpie, were the words “J was here.” My mouth dropped. I heard one of the girls saying “But J, you’re standing right here next to it…” and I heard his feeble protests.
“Whit-whit, it wasn’t me.”
“Okay.” I unlocked the door, pissed and pushed past him. I wasn’t sure whether or not to believe him. The kid was a tricky one – by turns charming and cheeky, and devilishly mischievous – he was Coyote, Anansi, and Bugs Bunny combined with Problem Child. One could never be sure whether to take him seriously or not; one could never be sure of just how much he knew and how smart he was.
“Ms. Whit, it wasn’t me. Somebody else must’ve wrote my name there.”
“Must’ve written it, you say?” Not only was I in no mood to deal with extra kids, or tell Bri to stop smacking Lee and quit standing in my doorway (As an aside…if you have a doorway to your classroom, a kid will have to stand in it blocking all traffic. It’s like the mouse-cookie theorum proven by Laura Joffe Numeroff in 1985.). I was in even less of a mood to listen to excuses salted with grammatical errors. I didn’t want to hear him, I just wanted the tag off my door.
“Yeah, I mean, I wouldn’t do that to your door. But even if it was me, why would I write my name and stand next to it?” I didn’t care to play the game, I didn’t care to guess. He could have very well been telling the truth. Many of his friends knew that he came there everyday. They knew that he stood there and waited to talk with me. Furthermore, I’d already glanced at the pockets of his tight jeans and taken a peek at his hands – no evidence of Sharpie anywhere on him. He had plenty of teachers ready to jump on him for any perceived ill – I didn’t want to contribute to it, especially if he hadn’t done it. Even though the bigger part of me assumed that he had done it, hadn’t considered its permanence, and was now feeling bad about having done it.
As I had to quickly get ready for class, and I just wanted it off my door, I proceed to clean it up without saying anything. That’s right. I ignored him. Kids hate that. Especially kids who routinely exhibit attention seeking behavior.
“Ms. W? A-Dubs? Is it coming off?” he asked as I began rubbing at the door with a Chlorox wipe. The graffiti faded to a light gray, but still clearly declared the presence of J.
“Bye, J,” I said in response.
“I’m sorry about your door.”
“You’re going to be late for Art.”
“I’m closing the door now.”
Fortunately for me, one of the custodians saw me scrubbing at my door and told me not to worry about it. He returned a few moments later and cleaned the door. There was barely a mark where the Sharpie ink had been.
I’d largely forgotten about the incident until my next-door teacher neighbor poked her head into my door at 3:30. She informed me that there was a long line of Sharpie marker that started at the edge of my door and continued all the way into the lobby. Someone had, walking towards the bus lot, decided to decorate the school. “Who would DO that?!” she asked. I had no clue, I told her. “I mean, they complain and complain about how nice the school isn’t and then they decide to just write on the walls. And THIS is why we can’t have nice things!” she said, and shook her head with an incredulous grin on her face.