Monday, March 2, 2015

SOLSC March 3rd - A Staple in Time...

Join me as I participate in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Other "Slicers" can be found among my students in the comments of my class blog. There are also several hundred teachers participating at

A Staple in Time...
This couldn't really be happening! It had to be a bad dream. I'd had some bad teaching dreams before, but I knew this was no dream and I was in serious trouble.

The Situation:
Who: Me aka Mr. Maclay. Second year science teacher in a small public high school.
Where: In my classroom by my desk.
When: Second day of school, 8:01am, four minutes before the first bell rang and my Chemistry students started filing in.
Why: Because I made a really dumb decision. It didn't seem dumb at the time but an instant was pretty clear that twenty-four is not much smarter than most of my students.
How: I was putting the class rules on the wall above my white board that we had all agreed to the first day of school. But that spot is pretty high so I stood on my desk chair, which has wheels, and raced away from under my left leg when I put my right leg on my desk. I do not do the splits but...
What: ...My pants do! That's really the issue here and I saved it for last, even if it's a little out of order for the five Ws and one H. A HUGE hole, ripped in the crotch of my pants, from the bottom of the zipper to halfway up my backside.

I told you I was in trouble.

A million thoughts were racing through my head:

I don't have another pair of pants...             
Is there a sewing machine in Home Ec.?
This is the biggest hole I've ever seen. I could put my leg through it!
What time is it? 8:02! 
Maybe they have needle and thread?
There's no time to sew it anyway and it's down two hallways.
Why do I have to make rules for my class with the kids? 
I'm in trouble and I don't even have duct tape...which wouldn't work anyway.
I can't believe I stood on a chair with wheels. I'm an idiot!
Yeah...but I thought I could do it. I almost had it!
What time is it? 8:03! Think, Think, THINK!

And then, necessity (or desperation in this case) became the mother of invention. I grabbed the black Swingline stapler from my desk and checked for a full clip. Holding my planning book casually and strategically in front of me, I sidled from my room to the Teacher's Lounge next door (Thank God it was next door). Awkwardly nodding to the English teachers making copies and the Social Studies teacher topping off his coffee, I made my way into the bathroom and hurriedly shut the door.

My Hero! photo credit: via photopin (license)
There, dropping my pants to my knees, I surveyed the patient and commenced triage. The eight-inch tear was a mostly straight line but there was a wandering rip for a couple of inches about a third of the way along. Carefully, I started stapling from the front to the back, gratified that the staples seemed to be holding along a fairly solid seam. Around the fifteenth staple, the first bell rang. After hurriedly finishing the job, I cautiously pulled my pants up, trying not to get poked or scratched by the thirty-plus staples holding my sanity together.

Walking with care, I entered the classroom just seconds before the tardy bell rang. I rolled my chair behind my desk, picked up the rules paper from the floor, and held it up to show that I had indeed listened to their input and typed them out. We reviewed them and got started on the first 'real' day of Chemistry class.

That's the main story although there are a couple more fun details. While the staples held well enough for a class period, I had to refresh them twice during the day to keep my modesty intact. By the final bell at 3:10, there were probably close to a 100 staples in my pants, only a few of them hanging on for dear life. I chose not to relay the story to my wife that night but a few days later she did a load of laundry. Why I did not just throw those pants away I can not tell you. She came to me in stitches trying to figure out why I had staples all through the crotch in my pants and teased the whole sordid story out of me. I just wish she hadn't told her mom.


  1. Oh dear Lord - too funnt! What a great story! you built the tension throughout. I too, wish she hadn't told her mom!

  2. What a great story! Teaching definitely helps you to learn to be a creative problem solver!

  3. What I really love is this: "thirty-plus staples holding my sanity together". It feels like a mantra for all teachers, Max. What a great story, & I guess I'm just glad you didn't break something besides your vanity!

  4. Wooooow what a story!! You could have played the staples off as some hip new fad that all the cool kids are doing this year ;)

  5. Too funny - I loved the way you told this tale with wry humor. We all have versions of stories like this, I think - but yours had a happier ending (you and your pants made it though the day!).

  6. Oh gosh- those moments early in our teaching lives when something goes terribly wrong and it seems like an insurmountable crisis a the time only to fade into a humorous memory. Great slice!

  7. Such a funny, funny story! I laughed and laughed! Thanks for making my day brighter!

  8. Haha! That was such a funny story! I can feel that, you have 4 minutes left to get you pants back together or else... the possibilities are endless! Great why to tell the story! :)

  9. Ha ha ha! Great story. I loved the different fonts for the different thoughts. :)

  10. Oh. My. Goodness.

    This post is fantastic.

    And part of what makes it fantastic is that none of this happened to *me* -- but I sure can feel the quick nod you gave to your colleagues before going into the bathroom and the whole host of rushing thoughts racing through your mind after your split happened.

    I can only imagine what your wife was thinking when she found them... :)

    Thank you for sharing! I needed the smile that I got from this.

  11. Goodness! You have such a remarkable way with words, Max! You took this nightmarish 1st day of school story and turned it around!! I loved the play on words!