When I was in tenth grade, I had the unfortunate luck of having Mr. Ferris for geometry. He had a nasty attitude and didn’t much care for teaching. He was a bitter, old bully who hated his life and intended to take out his hatred on us.
I was sitting in class one day, minding my own business, no doubt daydreaming and chewing gum, when he directed the entire class to turn their attention to me. I could not figure out why. I knew I could be fascinating but usually did not garner the attention of everyone.
His next remarks aimed at me caused me to want to run out of the room as he began to make fun of me. He asked the class:
What’s the difference between a cow chewing its cud and Lindy?
The class laughed but could not come up with the answer. He then said:
The thoughtful look on the cow’s face.
The class erupted with laughter as my face turned several shades of red.
I waited for the chuckles to stop and finally, thankfully, the class ended. I continued to go to the rest of my classes but at the end of the day, I went to talk to the principal. I had dealt with difficult teachers before, and I was fully prepared to do what I had to do.
He refused to allow me to drop the class and told me the only way I could get out of the class was to fail the class for the first semester. And thus my plan was born.
I went to class every day, where Mr. Ferris was fully aware of my plan. He made me turn my desk around and face the back of the room. I had no problem with that because I was good at ignoring outrageous behavior after dealing with Mother.
I did allow myself to fail and found out I could attend summer school and make up the credit, which I did. I also decided to keep the information to myself and not share it with Mother as I knew she would only laugh at the inappropriate comment or yell at me for chewing gum.
Later in life, as a teacher myself, I promised myself and my students that I would never make fun of them, bully them or humiliate them. I held to that promise and can say after thirty-five years of teaching, I retired with a smile on my face and yes, happily chewing gum!