Yesterday was my last day of one-day-a-week subbing on the island this school year. Grade six, six periods, hot outside, no air conditioning, blue sky, only two weeks left. Thought I had skills, but with not much control of expectations or consequences, sometimes skills don’t count for jack.
Sixth and final period, fingernails digging deeper into the
chalkboard whiteboard, clock moving slower and slower. At the end of last period, behind my back, a kid erased part of my name on the board to read, Mr. Jonas Suckeee.
“Are you really Mr. Suckee,” sniggered a kid, as the next class entered–big time laughter. This was going to be a long, long end to a long, long day, I said to myself. Most kids, regardless of age, like me. I’m funny, they say. Thanks for coming, they say. Wish you were our teacher, they say. No evidence of that today. Mr. Suckee truly needed Viola Swamp, but Ms. Swamp had already left the building.
Fifteen minutes were left before we all had our freedom. Things were going downhill. Instructions from their teacher said if they finished early they could work on one of the class Chromebooks, using one of three approved math programs–right. Wondered why they were so excited, gathering around one or two kids, laughing and gesturing wildly–never knew math could be so much fun. And the noise, oh the noise, the noise, the noise. But I knew, if I circled around back or made any attempt to see what my Chuckie charges were up to, they all had the smarts to toggle to one of the pages they were supposed to be using. The noise grew louder. Way too many minutes left on the clock.
And then, and then. . .a miracle. One of the kids said, “aren’t you that author guy?” When I did an author visit at this school a few weeks ago my audiences were grades seven and eight. A few grade six kids with special writing skills or interest were invited as well. Here was such a kid.
“Yep, that’s me.” Which met with a few mocking sounds. “No, really,” said this kid, it’s Him. They looked at me again, suspiciously.
“Check it out,” I said. “Go to Amazon and write my name. Or go to Google and type search terms like my name together with librarian, or one of the titles of my books, like Imposter. I knew this kind of skewered search would produce way over the top results, showing Bob Jonas in at least the first twenty to forty hits. Kids were amazed, astounded, a real author in their midst–famous enough to be all over the Internet. No longer just the sub, to be chewed up. I wrote my website address on the board. The sun began to shine, in the classroom.
For the last fifteen minutes we talked books and writing, and Bob the author, and no longer were we adversaries. I told them I only hung out subbing once a week to give me a leg up on writing for my prime audience, which, I said, was “you guys,” and how I’d been doing that for the past twenty years.
“So you were doing research,” one of them said.
“Are you coming back tomorrow,” one of them said. Not on your life, I said, to myself, unless it’s for another author visit.
“Do you make a lot of money?” another kid asked. Yes, of course, I said to myself. Just take a look at my 1990 Dodge Dynasty in the parking lot, the one with the dead lizard in the back window. The author questions kept pouring in.
Many said they wanted to read my books, many said they were heading to the library after class. Many said they would buy the books.
Kind of like being on the Group W bench, if any of you remember what that means.
We were on a roll when the bell rung. “Aw shucks, I said.” This was just getting good.
Fame. Who knew?