Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Some medicine had been called in to the only all-night drugstore in town. The store was busy so the prescription not ready until around 3:00 AM.

Since it was so late, I went as I was--shorts, tie-dyed purple shirt, flipflops, and hair past my shoulders instead of bound in a ponytail.

I was on my way back to the truck with the medicine when I saw a huge rat run across the parking lot, climb up on the tire of my truck and disappear up into the underside of the truck. Where could it have gone? I waited for him to leave. He did not. I approached cautiously.

I jumped in the truck and slammed the door quickly. I did not know if the rat could get inside the truck from the outside. There should not be any holes big enough, but I know rats can get into places they should not be able to.

I cut a couple of donuts in the empty parking lot to see if I could sling the rat out from under. I did not see him leave. On the way home I hit every pothole that I could and changed my route in order to go over some bumpy railroad tracks. But there do not seem to be any bad potholes when you need them and apparently the road crossing the tracks had been smoothed.

I slung the truck into the parking lot of Catfish Cabin and cut a couple of donuts, then slung it back onto the road. Then I saw the blue lights behind me.

I pulled into the parking lot of an auto dealership. The officer told me to get out of the truck. I realized that I was wearing my cut-offs, tie-dyed shirt, flipflops, and had mountain-man-hippie-hair. There was no way I was going to avoid being hauled in.

Then he looked at my license and asked me why I was driving so erratically.

And I realized that I was about to tell him about a huge rat under my truck at three in the morning. No way.

But I did. I told him about the rat. He looked the truck over and said, "Is he still under there?"

I said that I did not know--I never saw him leave.

He thought it over and said, "Drive safely on the way home."

I did.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Move Over Beckett

Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner talked about the "too big to fail" problem this week. He said "when large companies manage themselves to the point that they cannot survive without the government, that we put them out of existence."

So if a company gets too big to fail, they kill it.

Geithner is the new master of the absurd, filling the shoes of Lewis Carroll, Samuel Beckett, and John Cleese. If they are too big to fail, we will not let them fail, we will kill them.

Perhaps next week Geithner will decide that attempted suicide will now be punishable by the death penalty.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

What Is Important?

I was giving a test that started at 8:00 this morning. I had my laptop on and my work email up. At 8:36 a student mailed me. She was "stuck" at registration and would have to miss the test. Could she take it tomorrow?

I thought, "She's five minutes walk from the classroom. They won't let her leave? Taking a test is not as important as registering now?"

Those were the negatives. On the positive side, she was not lying. I suspect that half of the students who take makeups lie about having to miss the original test. Since she was not lying, I mailed back, "You may take the test with another class at 9:35 or not at all."

She replied, "I can't take it then. I have a class."

I began to understand. Taking a test was not as important as registering. It was not as important as attending another class. I was tempted to ask, "Is taking this test the least important possible use for your time?"

But I didn't. I answered, "Then I will assign a zero on the test."

She replied, "I will talk to my teacher at 9:35 and see if it is OK."

She showed up and took the test.

I cannot spend a lot of time worrying about a young lady who is so self-centered, putting emphasis on anything immediate and expecting me--who has the job of evaluating her--to fit myself into her schedule. But I have taught for over twenty years, and that was a first.