Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Now Reality Returns

The holidays are over; now reality returns. Reality! What a concept the comedian wrote. For reasons that escape me I have neglected this diary for most of a month. As a welcome return to my high school scholars the doorbell rang this past Saturday morning. I could see a silhouette through the dark green curtain covering the oval window in the door. I suspected the identity of the silhouette waiting for a stranger to open the door.

The previous Monday a new student had transferred into the school. His mother had moved him and herself into a very low rent district of town perhaps one step ahead of the law. Matt is a pleasant young man with an unusual hairdo. He tends to comb his wet blonde hair forward toward his eyes. As it dries, laying flat on top of his head, the ends curl upward on his forehead. In an attempt to completely cover his young babyish face he tries to grow a beard on his chin. The wispy hair does little to cover his chinny-chin-chin. The one thing he has going for him; he is smarter then my average SPED student. In his last school he had been placed in an honors English class. The only reason he failed the class were the thirty-five days he occupied a cubicle in the in-school-suspension portable classroom.

Through the green curtain I saw the curled hair on his forehead. He was looking down at a folder he held in his hand. I unlocked the door and swung it open. He looked up and was ready to say his memorized speech. However, the best he could muster was a shocked, “holy shit”!

“It’s good to see you also Matt,” I replied to his surprised words.

“I a, I mean a, I didn’t know you lived here?”

“Well, well, surprise to you. What can I do for you?”

Before he answered I knew why he was at my door. He was completing a probation period imposed by the local juvenile judge. A lady that had ran on one platform and like
many other politicians had changed after winning elections. His sentence was a year’s probation as long as he held a job. Otherwise, if he lost his job, he would finish his sentence in the juvenile detention center. The job was selling local newspaper subscriptions with most of his salary going to pay court cost. He had been blanketing most residential areas of this fast growing town.

“Okay, here’s your free newspaper. You want to buy a subscription? You can get a five-day a week subscription for $10.00 a month, or Saturday and Sunday for $8.50 a month, or you can just make a donation.”

Matt had not looked at me from the time I opened the door. He stood there with his sagging pants, Artic Polar coat, untied Nike shoes, and hairy chin waiting for me to choose a subscription.

“How much longer are you on probation,” I asked?

“Four hundred dollars worth.”

I wondered about the legal lesson he would take away from his probation experience? My guess was the same lesson he garnered from his prior two probations. Briefly a picture crossed my mind. A picture of him appropriately clothed, in honors English, passing with a solid A, and colleges lining up to offer him scholarships.

“How about a donation,” I asked?

“If that’s what you want to do.”

Leaving him standing on the small concrete porch I fished fourteen dollars from my wallet. “All I have is this,” I told him over my shoulder.

“Whatever,” he said.

My ideal picture of the future was quietly shattered and replaced with a mental slide show of poverty, despair, evictions, minimum wage jobs between jail sentences, several children with different partners, and no high school diploma or college degree. He pocketed the fourteen dollars and walked off down the street to the next house.

“Thanks man. See ya Monday.”

…………I could be wrong?

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