Mr. Yakub shushed Mr. Polf for the tenth and final time. He was sure that he was going to stab Yakub in the throat, right there in front of everyone.
“If you shush me again, I swear to God, I’m going to stab you in the throat, right here in front of everyone.”
It was the third or fourth or fifth baby that began screaming during the third or fourth or fifth sentence of the commencement speaker’s address. At this point, Mr. Polf scanned the room before making eye contact with one of his sophomore students, Leo, who was sitting two rows back and, for whatever reason, wearing a black polo littered with green polka dots. Polf focused in on the shirt and realized that the green dots were not green dots but marijuana plants and that Leo was high.
“Right,” he thought.
The salutatorian continued on amidst the echoing wails of infants, the chatter of non-English-speaking parents, and the general lack of interest amongst stoned underclassmen that wanted to see their friends walk.
“It’s these times that teach us how to work hard,” she said. “But now things will be better. We don’t have to wake up early in the morning. This dress code? It’s gone. We’re adults now. We don’t have to wear uniforms! And we don’t have to take stupid classes we don’t want to take. We don’t have to do anything we don’t want to do. It’s our lives. We can make the most of them, and do what we want.”
The Principal rolled his eyes on-stage as two Batman bouncy-balls ricocheted through the aisles. One struck Polf in the foot. He reached down for it at the same moment a two-year-old child barreled into the row, racing for the ball himself. Polf handed ball to the child who smiled, grabbed the ball, and placed the ball into his mouth. The child ran off and Polf realized he’d been slobbered.
The ceremony stopped for the mandatory Collaborative Informational Monologue™™®®. The CEO from a non-profit-collaborative-educationally-focused-green-commune-collective came on stage and delivered a fifteen-minute presentation on the apparent successes of her life and her company. This was a cue for the families to begin talking, let their children run free, and leave their seats to hit the concessions. There was a mad dash for the door, as many families were in a rush to buy muffins and popcorn before the names were read. By the time the CEO made it to slide 18 of 22, many families had fallen asleep and abandoned any responsibility for their children’s actions.
Other families arrived late (traffic delays), and left the assembly immediately after entering, assuming that they had entered some sort of business meeting and missed the graduation altogether. Two niños raced their Tonka Trucks around the empty chairs, crashing them each other in a cacophony of plastic destruction.
“And now, I present to you, the class of 2014!”
Polf admired his fellow educators, each one of them beaming with a different type of satisfaction and pride. Each person had played one role or another in the development of every student on stage. It wasn’t so long ago when many of them were just starting out. Hell, it was only his fourth year teaching. The few kids that made it out made it out without a clue as to what making it out actually meant. Many of these kids looked certain: it was their world for the taking.
He only hoped that they’d be able to adapt when the time came, again, to wake up early, put on a uniform and drive off to a school (or job) to do something that they didn’t want to do.