I was a part time teacher and had no classroom of my own, but floated room to room. One day I found several of my books out in the hallway. In the classroom I found all the desks, heavy metal desks, all shoved against the wall to one side of the room. A bookcase was knocked over and books lay, spines bent, all over the floor. There was a puddle of water. There was a broken yardstick and inexplicably, little piles of splinters everywhere, as if someone had painstakingly whittled away at yardstick. I walked across the hall and asked the science teacher if he had seen what had happened in there.
“What’s it to you?” he wanted to know.
The teacher normally in that room had been out on leave. The substitute teacher was a small, delicate, retired black woman who brought to mind a Sunday school teacher and white gloves. She was shaking as she told me about the class she covered in my room.
“I taught science for thirty years and loved every minute of it,” she said in a quavering voice, “but these children?” She took a deep breath. “I hate these children.”
The wooden splinters mystify me to this day.
That classroom was upstairs. Downstairs was another class. I walked in one day to about two inches of water on the floor, water pouring in from the ceiling. The chemistry lab was the room above. A kid would surreptitiously jam a piece of paper towel in the lab sink drain and put the faucet on a slow drip. Over night the room would flood and pour into the classrooms below.