The best way is the sneaky way.
Once upon a time, in a faraway distant land we like to call high school, I sat at a desk in an American History class. But this wasn’t just any desk, oh no. This wasn’t some crude plastic chair that was bolted to one square foot of particle board. This was a real desk. A REAL desk. And it was glorious.
You see, the class was so full of young bright-eyed students eager and willing to learn, that the teacher had run out of those cruddy desks that you can barely fit into. You know the ones I mean. A piece of wood stuck to a hard, cold chair specifically designed to be as uncomfortable as possible to poor, overworked high school students. And so with a limited number of “chairs” (if they can indeed be called chairs), my teacher somewhat apologetically, placed me at a table in the corner of the room.
And it was wonderful. Seriously. I loved my desk like no student has ever loved a desk before. And why shouldn’t I?? I got to sit in the back. By the window. With a padded chair. I sprawled all of my belongings across my domain and still had enough room to write, read, and rest my arms. I was more attentive. I was happier. My 1st period History class was all of a sudden the highlight of my day. I could actually feel myself getting smarter by the minute! And as if that wasn’t enough, my teacher was still one more seat short. And so I was assigned to share my desk…with the prettiest girl in my History class. I loved that desk. I loved that desk, oh so much.
Life was good. The educational system was finally working. My historical knowledge of the Americas was reaching new bounds. I was the Alex Trebek of my classroom. The cool breeze from my window kept me alert and ready to elaborate on various topics from the mid 19th century. And in a completely unrelated note, my luxurious padded chair was slowly inching its way closer and closer to the pretty brunette next to me.
And then one day, the unthinkable occurred. I arrived to my morning History class, naturally eager to make the most of the educational opportunities that lay before me, only to discover the awful truth… My desk had been replaced.
I stared at the two abominations that stood in its place. Two plastic chairs, each welded to a small piece of wood. The brainchild of some sinister educator looking to cram more students into a single class room, and cut costs on large beautiful tables and cotton filled seats that were meant to cushion my buttocks. -sniff-
I immediately demanded an explanation from my teacher. He smiled a devilish grin, and laughed a devilish laugh.
“Your desk is GONE!” he said to me as he mocked my pain…my sorrow…my heartache. “Deal with it!”
I could not, and would not “deal with it.” For too long I had reaped the rewards of a desk built for two and a warm comfy seat cushion. I began plotting a scheme so clever and so crafty that I was sure that if the US government were to ever hear about it, they would immediately seek my services for the CIA. I would get my desk back. Oh yes. It would be mine.
My plan began in simple stages. After school, I staked out the classroom of my History teacher until he left for the day. Then I promptly found one of our school janitors. I explained to him that I had left a book inside the classroom, which I needed to recover. He unlocked the door, and let me in. A friend distracted the janitor while I quickly took my table which now sat against the wall gathering dust, and restored it to its rightful place. Success!! The next morning my teacher was astounded to find me (and the pretty brunette) sitting comfortably, once again at our table.
My teacher was not one to give up easily however. It only took a day before he had removed my heavenly desk away from me. He smiled at me as I found myself once again regulated to a tiny blue seat imprisoned by the bars of metal holding the slab of particle board that was to be my “desk.”
“Deal with it,” he said, laughing at my misfortune. “And don’t go asking the janitor for help, because I’ve told him not to let you in.”
Curses! My plan was foiled! But I could not be stopped. I had seen Heaven, and in that Heaven there was a wonderful, glorious desk with a visage that shone like the trumpet of Gabriel himself. And I was making headway with that brunette, dang-it!
The solution struck me as I gazed solemnly outside my window. Yes! The window! If I could somehow manage a way to keep the window from being locked at the end of the day, I could climb in and retrieve my desk thus reuniting myself with my soft chair, with higher learning, and with the pretty brunette who was already in the habit of letting me use her binder paper.
I am not going to disclose here how one prevents a window from being locked for the night. In fact, I should probably state here that this whole story is really just a made up figment of my imagination. Really. Honest. I never had a classy desk…Um.. In fact…I never had a high school. Yeah…that’s right. I don’t even know what history is. And there’s no “Deep Throat” anywhere who can tell you otherwise. But hypothetically speaking in this imaginative narrative of mine, if one WAS to prevent certain windows from being locked for the night, one could do so with just two or three pennies placed in the proper locations. Or so I’m told. I really have no idea. Because I’ve never tried it.
Regardless, my teacher was once again astonished to find me in the morning, once again sitting comfortably at my big luscious table while flirting with the brunette beside me.
This game went on for several weeks. My teacher would move my desk away from me. And the following day it would magically reappear in the proper place. He couldn’t figure it out. He had literally talked with the school janitor dozens of times, repeatedly being assured that I was not being let into the classroom after hours to make the switch. He was completely baffled.
At this moment, I may have become somewhat overconfident. I may have begun bragging to my teacher that “my desk would always find me” and there was nothing he could do about it. I may have convinced myself that I was Ferris Beuller, Zack Morris, and Parker Lewis all rolled into one. I also may have hid a “Baywatch” poster of Pamela Anderson on his world map which he later discovered while in the middle of teaching 6th period. I may have. I’m not at liberty to say.
And so, it was really a matter of time before the inevitable happened. I arrived to school, and my desk was once again missing. I looked all around the classroom, but it wasn’t pushed against the wall, or buried under some papers by the cabinet as it had been so many times before.
“It’s gone,” said my teacher. “It’s over. You’re never going to see your desk again.”
“Where is it!?” I retorted. “What have you done with my desk?!?!”
“It’s gone forever!!” cackled my teacher. “Deal with it!”
My blood boiled at this injustice. “This isn’t right!! Where is my desk?!?!”
“Deal with it!”
I was beginning to panic. What if he had it thrown away?? Would he do such a thing? It was such a nice table! I tried to appeal to his sense of compassion. “What am I supposed to do?? How would you feel if your desk suddenly disappeared??”
“I’D DEAL WITH IT!” came the response.
And that was all I needed to hear. Those words lit a fire inside me that simply would not be squelched. I would have my desk back. And no one, not even my History teacher would stop me.
For two hours after school that day, I scoured the campus for my desk. I enlisted the help of a trusted friend and we checked every classroom. Literally. Every classroom. We checked the back parking lot, and looked in garbage piles. Finally, when I was beginning to feel that all hope was lost, we found my desk, tucked away between a fence and a dumpster. My teacher had done the unthinkable. He had thrown out my desk. He had attempted desk-genocide.
My righteous indignation was fueled to no end. I would have my revenge.
And so, late that very night under the cover of darkness, I [hypothetically] maneuvered my way into the classroom one final time. I was not however, there to return my desk to its rightful location. Not this time. Not after what he did. I would not stand idly by while he removed my desk and had it thrust into the dumpster like some common piece of garbage. This wasn’t about the comfy chair, the massive writing space, or even the pretty brunette. Not anymore. This was a matter of principal. I needed to send a message.
I stood there in the middle of the night (hypothetically), staring at the empty chairs and desks before me. I marched to the front of the classroom. Under a stack of papers, my teacher’s desk called to me like a beacon in the night. I knew what I had to do. There was no turning back now.
The next morning, my teacher walked into his classroom to find his papers stacked neatly on the floor, and his large, beautiful desk missing. In its place was a dirty, broken, tiny, wobbly little chair/desk hybrid from the early 70′s that I had found in the dumpster out back. Scribbled on the dirty wooden writing surface were the words, “DEAL WITH IT!”
I had not yet arrived to school when this particular discovery was made. And I am so very glad that I had not. What happened at this point, I only know from third hand accounts. There was an outburst of sorts. And when I reached my classroom, there was the broken little desk from the 70′s, lying overturned in the hallway; the victim of my teacher’s outrage.
I walked into my classroom. My teacher sat quietly in the corner with his head in his hands. I approached him carefully. My moment of victory was quickly becoming a moment that I did not want to savor. He couldn’t speak. He was shaking. He was scared. He was broken. Holy crap…I had broken my teacher! What had I done?!? He was my FAVORITE teacher and I had broken him!! Instantly I regretted our cat and mouse game and felt ashamed for all of my high school-ish bravado. Quietly I apologized with all sincerity.
Without raising his eyes, he quietly stuttered, “I-I- I just need my desk.”
instantly I sprung into action. I ran to the empty classroom in which I had hidden my teacher’s table. Utilizing the help of a student passing by, we carried the desk back to my teacher and placed it in front of the class. I picked up his papers and tried my best to put them back as they had been before my desk-stealing transgression.
By this time, the bell had rung, and students were in their seats wondering what was going on. My teacher picked himself up, and began instructing us in the day’s lesson. I sat in my little plastic chair (my desk was safely hidden away at the other end of campus where I could love it forever and always) and nervously tried to sort through what had just transpired. At the end of the period, the students filtered out of the classroom, until only my teacher and I remained.
I thought for sure I was in the greatest trouble of my young life. I had taken things too far. I had done wrong. I had broken the law. And most importantly, I had pushed a good man to his limits and ignited a wrath in him that frightened and terrified us both. I approached him humbly. I had no idea what to say or where to begin. But before I even had a chance to say a word, he spoke.
“I’m sorry,” his voiced trembled.
Wait…what??? I had just driven this good teacher, this good man, to sheer madness, and he was apologizing to ME?!?! I immediately tried to beg forgiveness, placing on myself blame, punishment, anything so that he would know how sorry I was, and how much I really looked up to him as a teacher.
The conversation the two of us had from that point on was personal, and so I will not disclose it here in this writing. But suffice it to say, I learned more about my teacher and his character than I ever knew before. I learned what his life was like. I learned how much he cared about his work and his students. I learned who this good man was. I learned.
My teacher and I had a truce for the rest of the year. I would no longer make him the target of my teenage pranks, but my experience that day left me with a commanding love and admiration for this man that could never have been achieved by my silly cat and mouse game alone. I remain grateful for that teaching moment, and the lesson I received that day.
My desk remained safely hidden behind a bush for the rest of the school year. I said hello to it everyday as I passed by. But as I grew older I finally came to realize that it wasn’t the desk that I loved, or the soft cushy chair, or even the pretty brunette girl who sat next to me. It was the relationship with my teacher I loved, and his devotion towards his craft and his students. I’m glad he finally taught me that lesson.