72/365 - And Your Point Is?I am doing math in my head.

Meanwhile, twenty-two teenagers awaiting entrance exams are staring at me in terror. Since there is nothing more enjoyable than having some fun with terrified teens, I put on my most stern look of disapproval and glare into the ranks. However, I don’t have the heart to be mean to kids, so I do (simple) math in my head. This produces the Neolithic furrowed brow which marks confusion, anger at confusion and, often, hunger.

I sense that they are approaching the breaking point, so I stop math, drop the caveman act and crack a joke about dogs and CPR. They don’t understand, but I smile so they laugh with giddy relief. This is a universal examination law: A teacher before an exam is the funniest person on Earth. I could describe an autopsy to them in detail, and they will laugh at it.

I hand out the tests. They begin. I am no longer funny.

Fifteen minutes into the exam a girl bursts into the room and stammers something about bad traffic and a dog. Before she can reach the climax of her excuse I have stymied it with a palm in the long-honored ‘talk to the hand’ tradition. I place an exam onto a desk, point to the seat and then at the finish time on the chalkboard.

I don’t have to do math now; I am irritated. The girl is highly perceptive in the arts of body and facial language (she has eyes) and immediately stops speaking and gets into the exam.

She has broken Galeone Rule #1: Thou Shalt Not Be Late(th).

We all have pet peeves. I have 32,981. Some of them are quite specific and, honestly, I rarely have to deal with Gondoliers, listen to Bjork or chat with Michael Bay. Teaching, however, allows my primary pet peeves to be constantly flicked like an ulcer on the tongue. Lateness is number one on this list of mouth sore torture. The first day of class each year begins with a ritual warning that lateness elicits a temporary rage that will eventually dissipate in lieu of eating cake or seeing some kind of lacy undergarment. The unspoken understanding is that if they are going to be late, they had better bring a Medovnik or wear boy shorts. This had led to awkwardness (Honza: Sept 12, 2011).

Interestingly, I have not always been like this. In fact, loathing lateness is hypocritical of the young version of myself. I spent the first twenty years of my life about twenty minutes late for everything. I would arrive at an interview ten minutes late and wonder at the frosty reception and no return call. I remember uttering phrases such as “But I am only twelve minutes late!” and then ducking the laser beams coming from the eyes of my most recent ex-boss.

Something switched in me around the age of twenty. Probably my hereditary right to obsessive earliness, which has at least given me something to worry about for the last eighteen years. And since then I have been rabidly anti-lateness. I am like a right-wing political commentator who preaches family values and raves against gays only to get caught cheating on his wife with a sixteen year old Portuguese house boy.

But, I do not care.

I figure part of a teacher’s job is to teach students something with the benefit of their own experience and from their own mistakes. Maybe if I continue to rage against lateness it’ll save these kids years of not being taken seriously. So, I will hammer away on them about respecting others’ time in hopes of keeping them from losing jobs or pissing off superiors.

Well, until they feed me cake, I guess.

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