Wednesday, February 2, 2022

An Open Letter to the Kids of Placer County

Dear school-aged kids of Placer County, California,

As some of you are aware, I started substitute teaching at the beginning of this year. If I have subbed in your class and your teacher didn’t leave a detailed lesson plan that day, then you learned about the miracle of compounding interest, why the Labrador Retriever is a superior dog breed, small engine repair, or whatever other useful information happened to be on my mind.

You’re welcome.

I also perform another very important public service when I sub that I wanted to call to your attention so you could be grateful.

I take roll.

My main job as a substitute teacher is, in fact, to take roll, and I take that responsibility very seriously. Not in terms of making sure I have a super-accurate head count, or knowing exactly which students are in class and which ones are absent. I’m a libertarian by nature. Your attendance is really none of my business.

No, I take my job of taking roll seriously in terms of making sure I read each and every name out loud, pronounced right or wrong.

Mostly wrong.

It’s the least I can do. You see, there’s a lot that you kids are missing out on, and you don’t even know it. When we were your age, we were standing in front of the DMV on our sixteenth birthday, sometimes before they even opened, paperwork in hand, ready to get our driver’s license. You kids don’t seem to care about getting your licenses nearly as much as we did.

Should they have given us a license to drive a car at sixteen? Probably not, but that’s not the point. We wanted them so we could leave the house, and go do stupid things far away from home. You don’t even seem to be interested in doing stupid things in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven near your house. Or the AM/PM. I mean, I can’t figure you kids out.

You just stare at your phones and LOL with each other digitally about the latest viral TikTok. I worry about you. I want you to have the same amazing experiences I had growing up. If you won’t leave the house and do stupid things, I will at least do my part to make your school days as meaningful as possible by taking role. I guess you will relay the story on your phone instead of in the Circle K parking lot, but I won’t deny you the hilarious recounting of how the lame old man sub butchered your friend’s name today. That’s a school tradition we cannot let die.

And I want to thank you, Lilieth, Elleia, Adagio, Bode, Imogen, Sibohan, Isla, Cian, and of course, Anais, for always being there for me, in some amount and combination, on my role sheet. With your help, you and your friends will never run out of stories to text, tweet, Snap, Insta, or TikTok about.

Again, you’re welcome.

See you soon,

-Mr. Schmatjen (rhymes with pigeon)


Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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