An Unexpected Gift

The buzz began during first period: “There’s no water!  What’re we supposed to do?!”  “I dunno, but I REALLY gotta pee!”  The Pavlovian reflexes spread like wildfire: the moment they knew they couldn’t go, everyone had to.

During the break between classes, I squeezed apologetically into line for a bagel.  (Teachers are allowed to cut, but I felt guilty anyway.)  As I ambled back upstairs munching, I passed the vice principal.  “So, we get to leave now, right?” I joked.  “We’ll give it 15 more minutes,” she answered, completely serious.

I swallowed and returned to my classroom, where the students were gathered in a whispering huddle of misery.  “Omigod, I have to go SO bad,” one moaned.  Inwardly, I rolled my eyes.  Girls.

The bell rang, and eight pairs of eager eyes were trained on me – silently, for once.  “It looks like they’re going to cancel school,” I said, smiling.  A series of high-pitched noises ensued: they had not dared to hope for this!

No sooner had I closed my mouth than we heard the click of the PA system.  “May I have everyone’s attention, please.” You could hear a pin drop.  “The county has not been able to give us any more information about the water main break, so we have no choice but to close sch – ”

The poor secretary never finished her sentence; or, if she did, it was drowned out in a chorus of shrieks and cheers that ran the length of four hallways on four floors, from the mouths of hundreds of giddy teenage girls (and probably a few teachers, too.) Immediately, they began making plans to go to lunch together on their day off.

I knew I wouldn't be going out to lunch; I had so much catching up to do, grading and planning, that I'd probably be there until the final bell rang anyway. (I was.)  But something about group giddiness is awfully infectious, and  I couldn't help but be filled with wild joy along with the rest of them.