Today has been fantastic so far. I subbed for the same teacher that I had on Monday, which is not normal in the slightest. I get very few repeats as the teachers tend to always choose a random sub rather than requesting anyone in particular.

Suffice it to say, today was even easier than Monday. Even the students I had a problem with then seemed to get the idea that I wasn’t going to deal with their shit. They thought they were clever by all asking for bathroom passes at once so they could go and hang out. I signed it, then told them to leave their backpacks in the room as they wouldn’t need them at the bathroom. The best part was I benefited by not having to deal with them for about 15 minutes.

Today’s assignment, however, was perfect. The teacher is involved in Relay for Life, and got a request through them from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It turns out a Wish Kid wanted to receive a bunch of birthday cards for his 8th birthday this May 30th. So today I was to have the kids make cards for this boy, Shane Bernier, and collect them.

I was so impressed with the kids. First of all, I should mention that the Make-A-Wish Foundation is very near and dear to my heart. I’ve been working with them since the 8th grade. My band director, Mr. Lieberman, was President of the International Board for several years. I went on two charity tours with a jazz band for them through Europe, one of them with Cellshade among others, and have been honored to help grant two wishes personally as a result. Whenever I contribute to charity, they’re my first choice, and I’m considering volunteering at Give Kids the World or with the local Foundation. This was a perfect sub job for me.

I didn’t have a free period today because I needed to cover for another teacher during it, but that wasn’t a problem. This other teacher is a retired Marine Colonel and teaches US Government. I absolutely loved his room since it was filled with old books. Not everyone knows this about me, but I love old books more than almost anything else. New books are great, don’t get me wrong, but I like a book better than the pages are dog-eared and yellow, the spine is cracked, and it’s being held together by glue or tape. They have more character. I have a 1st edition, 18th printing copy of Atlas Shrugged that practically falls apart in my hands if I’m not careful, but I love it so much. I think an older book can tell a story that has nothing to do with the words on the page.

But I digress. This classroom was wall to wall in old books. It’s unfortunate that I got the impression from the state of them that they were more for decoration than anything else, but seeing as I was only there because they needed a teacher in the room and the student intern actually ran the class, I got a chance to appreciate as many of them as I could. All I really needed was to be mostly alone with somebody stroking my hair to a rock n’ roll soundtrack and I could have been in Heaven. The smaller bookshelf near this teacher’s desk looked more used, and not entirely unexpected from a late-60’s retired Marine. Mostly books by right-wing blowhards (Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, etc.), a few about how the elite liberal media is lying to America, several books on war and strategy, and the requisite Complete Works of Tom Clancy. Any military types out there want to let me know if they distribute every Tom Clancy book to every recruit, or do you only get them upon becoming an officer?

Mostly, I enjoyed the old books, especially the travel journals from the 1800s about the Far East. What a shame that they are collecting dust and mouse droppings and not being appreciated. Equally a shame that I had neither the moral lenity or the room in my bag to rescue them. I’m considering asking the teacher if he’d mind if I had a few.

I’m home now. I even made a card for the kid. Check out the assignment:

It was a real pleasure to be able to do this job. I can’t believe I got paid to collect cards for a dying 8 year old in another country. Still, this is the kind of thing that really makes it worthwhile some times.