I never ask the right things on the telephone

My brother called last week from somewhere on the road, and we talked about the good news, the bad news and, mostly, our siblings who were out of earshot.


He was driving home to New Mexico from Denver, where they had gone for a doctor’s visit. As we talked, I mentally checked off the things I knew my wife would ask about the conversation as soon as I hung up. She never fails to spring a question about something I should have found out on the phone but didn’t.

This time, I was sure I had covered all my bases: Tim was decided that gaining weight wasn’t the worse crime in the world. Cecilia’s visit at the doctor had gone well. Matthew was getting ready to turn – can you believe it? – 18.

I walked into the living room and told my wife about the call. She paused only a second before asking: “How long is the drive from Denver to their home?”

She had done it again. (For the record, it’s 450 miles.)

Speaking of questions and answers, last week I wrote about cheating in connection with athletes in the news. I heard from educators who had been on both sides of the issue.

One former teacher said he had made up grades so he would have the required number of grades per marking period.

“In all likelihood, it contributed to my short tenure in the middle school classroom,” he acknowledged. “Was I terrible? No, but I was lazy and that’s not a good thing.”

Another teacher found humor in nabbing cheaters.

“I was once monitoring a student taking a makeup test because he was absent the day the test was administered,” the educator wrote. “Suddenly, in the middle of the test, he blurted out, ‘This test isn’t the same as the one you gave yesterday!’ Laughing, I told him, no, I had changed it for the makeup test, but he had just incriminated himself.

“I have had a student put notes in his hat and put the hat on the floor under his desk, a student write notes on her hand, which she kept on her face except to look at it. The second one told me, after I asked to see her hand, that none of the notes had helped her, so it shouldn’t count against her.

“On a chemistry test, before calculators were common and cheap, students tried ‘borrowing’ a friend’s calculator to do the problems. The calculator had answers stored in memory. To show how technology has advanced, another student was caught using her cellphone to text someone during the test.”

Once, he said, a student whom he had caught looking at his neighbor’s paper actually congratulated him.

“I was the first teacher that had ever caught him cheating in his career as a student,” the teacher said.

I’m sure that student learned a valuable lesson: If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. That should be everyone’s daily mantra.

That, and: Never try to outthink your wife.



Thu, 11/23/2017 - 17:28

Rants and raves