Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Always on Best Behavior

As I go about my business in this big city small town, I am used to being hailed by students and former students alike, pausing in my errands to greet them and their friends and families. I try to be unfailingly friendly.

Years ago I broke the habit of honking at anyone in anger; it was after an aggressive driver flipped me off and zoomed ahead of me to brake suddenly. Clearly dissatisfied with my driving, she had a chance to explain herself to me in detail 10 minutes later when I was introduced as her summer school supervisor.

Cussing in public has been a little harder to give up; I like to think I use profanity effectively with a deliberate wink to its shock value, but other people probably have a different opinion.

Tonight though, I left the grocery store scratching my head a bit. I was searching for tortillas when I heard a clarion voice call, "Ms. S!" I felt the corners of my mouth lift in their public smile as I looked up to greet the young person behind the voice.

"Hello..." I started before realizing I had no idea who I was talking to. She was a bubbly kid of middle school age, but I am quite sure we have never been introduced.

"Mom! This is Ms. S. She's a teacher at my school!" the girl continued with impeccable manners.

"Pleased to meet you," I said, shaking her hand.

"What do you teach?" she asked.

"Sixth grade English," I answered.

"But... not on the Stingrays?" she said.

"No! She's a Dolphin," her daughter said. "My friend Maddie has her."

I shrugged and nodded.

"Nice to meet you. Have a nice evening," the mom said, and I was off free to go. Having found my tortillas, I cast a bit of a guilty look over my shoulder and turned down the wine and beer aisle.

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