An alternate title for this post might be ”Why Jim is no longer allowed to speak to high school students.”
My business partner Dan was asked to speak at Career Day at a local high school. Something came up at the last minute and he couldn’t make it so he asked me to fill in for him. A week later he received a student evaluation form from the teacher who had invited him to speak. He immediately scurried down to the copy room where he made a copy for each of our employees and distributed them — cackling all the way — with this yellow stick-em attached.
This was no ordinary high school. No, no, no, no, no. It wasn’t as much a school as a warehouse where these kids were stored until their pull dates expired. You couldn’t get on campus without passing through a metal detector.
This was the school of last resort for cold-blooded killers who hadn’t been prosecuted because they were minors when they committed their horrific crimes. For wannabe pimps looking to conscript their first drug-addled teenage girls. For local gang wannabes hoping to work their way up into membership in a Mexican cartel. For drug dealers who had been booted from their neighborhood high schools after blowing their second, third, fourth and fifth chances. For the psychotic and the neurotic, the overdosed underachievers who had been banned from ”regular” schools. For neer-do-wells of every stripe and every color.
Most of these kids had no interest in school and even less interest in the advertising yahoo standing before them. I’m going to guess that their average reading comprehension scores fell far below their grade levels, and that their IQs hovered somewhere near their body temperatures. They were like a pig in a python — they were being pushed through a system they didn’t really want to be part of.
I remembered how boring Career Day was back when I was in school. So I was working my ass off to be funny and interesting, to keep their attention, and if miracles were possible, to find the single lump of coal that could be transformed into a diamond in the middle of this open pit disaster.
Apparently, I impressed one kid, but not in a good way. The students were asked to evaluate each speaker. This is the form the kid did about me, the one Dan distributed to all our employees.
I do not dispute the kid’s evaluation. It is generally accurate. It’s true that I told him to fuck off, but a little context is necessary. This kid had been a problem since the moment he entered the classroom. He interrupted other students, made inappropriate comments, disrupted the session as much as he possibly could. He was a loud, abrasive troublemaker who sat in the back of the room making rude comments throughout my little talk.
Despite his annoying behavior, things were going better than I expected and I was pleased that a few students actually seemed interested. I completed my prepared comments and announced that we would use the rest of my allotted time to address any students’ questions. I saw the troublemaker waving his raised hand, but intentionally ignored him, hoping I could run out the clock without calling on him. Finally, though, his hand was the only one still dangling in the air, and I had no choice but to call on him. As I recall, my interaction with the problem child went something like this:
Jim: Any more questions? Anyone? You in the back. You have a question?
Kid: Yeah, I have a question about marketing.
Jim: (Relieved, thinking that something I said may have actually penetrated this loser’s thick skull) Go ahead.
Kid: How do they get the cream inside the Twinkies?
Jim: (Pissed off at myself for giving this kid the benefit of the doubt) They hire a dickhead like you to blow it in. Now fuck off.
Yeah, I know. I probably shouldn’t have said it. I may have expressed myself inelegantly. I may have crossed a line. I may have expected too much of this callow youth. Jamie, the family child psychology expert, would undoubtedly have handled it better than I did. I know Dan would have.
Needless to say, I have never been invited back to Career Day in that school district. Nor has Dan. I suspect that this was a case of guilt by association and that he was also issued a districtwide super secret lifetime ban just for knowing me and asking me to substitute for him.
That being said, I’m willing to bet that this kid is now serving twenty to life in San Quentin.
If so, it ain’t Twinkies he’s now blowing.
One additional comment: I have no idea what ”He made me want to go to Switzerland and get pregnant” means. My presentation had included no comments about Switzerland nor pregnancy, so your guess is as good as mine. I would not be surprised if some highly-illegal yet readily-available hallucinogenic substances were involved. The really odd thing about this evaluation is that it sounds like he was actually paying attention and heard what I had to say despite his disruptive behavior.