Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Hole

Chad wasn't very bright. One of my earlier memories of him was in fifth grade when our teacher promised to throw a popcorn and movie party if everyone got an A on the spelling test. For weeks we tried but after two weeks of everyone getting A's and Chad getting an F, we decided it was time for drastic measures. We all took turns during the day during lunch and recess hounding him on the ten words we were going to have to spell on Friday. We wouldn't let him join us in any playground activities until he had correctly spelled all ten words. By the time Friday came around, he could spell them in his sleep and we ended up getting the popcorn and movie but that isn't what I wanted to blog about.

This particular memory of Chad occurred in junior high school during a study hall hour presided over by our gym teacher. I can't remember the gym teacher's name but she had a rule that we couldn't shoot a basketball past a redline drawn on the gym floor between the free throw line and the three point arc on a basketball court. If we did, we got a detention.

On this particularly slow day in study hall, Chad wadded up a piece of paper and chucked it from his seat towards the wastebasket some thirty feet away. It fell far short and since there were rules against doing so in the gym teacher's study hall, she gave him a detention. I'm not positive but I think if you had five detentions within a certain amount of time, you were given an automatic three-day suspension to be served down in what the student's called "the hole." The hole was little more than a closet with a lock on the outside where the student spent the day in seclusion doing homework that teachers brought down. With the latest detention, Chad now had four and was on the verge of getting a three-day suspension.

The gym teacher reprimanded him, told him he had a detention and told him to pick it up and "throw" it away. So Chad walked up the wadded up paper now only ten feet from the trash can and did another jump shot with it… again missing. The gym teacher gave Chad his fifth detention despite his protests that she had told him to "throw" it away, which is what he had done.

Chad pleaded with her to reconsider because the detention meant he would be spending the next three days down in the hole but she wouldn't. Finally in desperation he told her that if he could shoot from the platform and go for double or nothing. If he made the shot, he would be back to three detentions and if he missed, he would be spending the next three days in the hole plus have two more detentions towards the next suspension.

We were dumbfounded. The platform was where the study hall teacher sat and was at least forty feet from the trashcan. I didn't even think it was possible to throw it that far much less try to make it in a wastebasket eighteen inches across. I was even more dumbfounded when the teacher accepted Chad's terms. Chad picked up the wad of paper, walked clear across the study hall room to the little six by six foot raised platform. Looking back towards us, we could see the determination in his eyes. We knew the stakes were high.

Chad wound up, took a few short shuffle steps and threw the wad of paper with all his might. We all watched in silence as it soared through the air and fell among the desks some twenty feet short of the trashcan. Without a word, Chad walked to the wad of paper, picked it up and after walking over to the trashcan, dropped it in. The next three days, we would only see the light shining through the door cracks as we walked by the hole.

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