The cafeteria during the lunch hour was filled with roudy teens – in both lines, on both sides of the large room. Miss Williams entered reluctantly and took up the rear of the shortest line. Some of her students greeted her and were glad to have her standing in line with them. “Hi Miss Williams, you didn’t bring your lunch today?” One asked.
The teacher smiled and shook her head no.
“Miss Williams, I’m reading Maya Angelou.” Someone from behind announced.
She nodded her head. “Angelou is a great writer.”
More of her students made up the group that started a new line behind her. She spotted another one of her students near the front of the line, near the food, talking loudly with one of the roudy groups. The girl approached her teacher.
“Hi Miss Williams,” She began in a boisterous pitch. “I like the way you don’t cut in front of us students like the rest of these teachers – you stand in line like you suppose to!” She finished with a definitive index finger in Miss Williams’s face. The teacher froze in place – staring.
The “Baby Huey” spun out of the teacher’s personal space whipping around long extensions. Miss Williams itched to fight this battle. But fighting this battle meant using a few choice curse words to tell the teen off. She simply could not risk this – she had already been accused of not knowing how to handle the bags of hormones. She smirked, still staring at the child and chuckled silently to herself. Seven more minutes of moving through the line landed Miss Williams a hot, tasty meal. A heavy weight ascended from her chest as she walked down the hall munching a bit of potato. She exhaled a sigh of relief when she entered her classroom and her eyes fell on wall to wall vacant seats. She quickly kicked off her shoes and stooped to pick them up with one hand and carried them to her desk where she plopped into her seat and prepared to feast.
The bell that rang the end of the lunch hour rang sooner than she had liked. Her heart sank like it had been tossed into the ocean with an anvil attached to it. A herd of students rushed in with their banter and disrespect as Ms. Williams cleared the lunch materials away.
“C’mon Miss Williams, you better hurry up ’cause we ain’t workin’ after one o’clock.” One student announced.
“Really…” Miss Williams answered dryly.
“Yeah, c’mon, what we doin’ today?”
“Ain’t, c’mon, what-we-doin’ ?- you all don’t sound like you’ve been in my English class since the beginning of the school year. What’s going on at one o’clock?”
“You – will – see.” A smart-mouth replied, carefully motioning her mouth for every pronunciation of her words.
Miss Williams smirked. “Alright, gentlemen on the right side of the classroom – ladies on the left.” She said as she passed out papers and they quickly began to arrange themselves.
“Are these song lyrics?” One student asked.
“Aww…you noticed!” Miss Williams exclaimed.
“Hey, this ma jam!” A girl started swaying from side to side in her seat.
“What are we doin’ with these?”
“What do we know about antecedents?” Miss Williams answered a question with a question.
“Don’t they refer to a noun or pronoun that’s being used or somethin’ like that?” Someone said.
“Exactly something like that!” Miss Williams said. “Now, the gentlemen will call out the noun or pronoun and the ladies will reply with the antecedent. Begin!”
The classroom clock read 12:40pm. the students went back and forth with the call and response activity until they finished the entire song at 12:55pm.
“Excellent job ladies and gents!” Miss Williams shouted. “You teens will now interact with the Smart Board playing Ant Antecedent. Which ever team gets the most ants on the appropriate antecedents wins.”
“Sorry Miss Williams, we gotta go.” Someone said, looking at the time.
“Naw man, I wanna play…” One boy pretended to pout.
“Where are you all going?” Miss Williams asked.
“We’re walkin’ out.”
“Yeah, no more teachers cuttin’ us in the lunch line!” Someone exclaimed leaping out of his chair.
The entire class shuffled out of the door, followed by Miss Williams who stood in the doorway to watch the herd of student body clutter the halls with other teachers who were also deserted. As she listened to the students chant, “No cuts, no cuts, no cuts, no teachers can get cuts!” Miss Williams could not help thinking of a certain memory.
Why are you standin’ in line? A co-worker asked her. Go on up there and get your food. No, I’m good. Miss Williams answered. I dont’ like stepping in front of the kids.
Coming out of her thoughts, she smiled at the loud group and exhaled a sigh of relief, stepping inside the classroom.
A week later, the teachers had their own lunch line.