About ten years ago I went to South Africa. The return flight was in the evening, so I checked out of the hotel early, with the intention of doing some tourist stuff. I found an Elephant Sanctuary which did half-day tours, lunch included: Despite getting massively lost, because this was the Southern Hemisphere and all my instincts were on strike, it wasn’t long before I was sat on their veranda in their little outdoor restaurant, with only one other party for company. The elephant handlers brought a couple of their charges by, and the boss of the operation stopped by to tell us a bit about how it all worked, as dessert was served.
It wasn’t a classroom, it was a teachers conference. I had been bullied severely in high school for several years after coming out and a couple days previously there was a serious incident which I’m not going to share for personal reasons- the bare bones is there was an incompetent substitute teacher and some not nice people decided to take some liberties. Both my parents were understandably angry and decided that, since parents evening was a couple of days away, they would use the time to talk to the principal.
This man was sweating with nerves giving every half baked answer you would expect from a monkey in a suit. It was almost funny how much he squirmed, whilst my mother was getting more and more agitated, eventually shouting at this man demanding he give a straight answer and sort this situation out before she decided to get higher authorities and the press involved. So there me and my parents are in a little office next to the entrance hall where most of the other parents are ( this detail gets relevant later) and my mama gets started- “why was the teacher hired? Why were they not in the room for most of the lesson? You new my child was being bullied and so far you’ve done nothing. How are the bullies being penalised?”
This man was sweating with nerves giving every half baked answer you would expect from a monkey in a suit. It was almost funny how much he squirmed, whilst my mother was getting more and more agitated, eventually shouting at this man demanding he give a straight answer and sort this situation out before she decided to get higher authorities and the press involved. Then this silly snake of a man said it. He turned to my dad and said “get your woman under control!” My dad was not having that AT ALL. Now both of my parents are shouting, my dad indignant at the statement and my mother angry that the principal would dare to tell her to be quiet concerning the welfare of her child. Eventually the principal said that if we didn’t leave he would call the police to escourt us out.
But, you must realize that most teachers were also disappointed with the appointment of Betsy DeVos. Students will occasionally overhear what the teachers say to each other, especially the new or younger teachers who are not aware of this. In schools, the talk about the president largely goes on between students repeating their parent’s view. I recall a student saying that Obama should get assassinated. I reprimanded him with the warning that if the president were assassinated or there was even an attempt, I would have to report to the authorities what he had said.
He detailed the special needs that Elephants impose on any kind of sanctuary, from extra strong fences to a high level of staff involvement and loyalty: Elephants can’t just be handled by anybody, he said. The handlers, standing by their full-grown charges a few meters away on the trail, stood proud for that bit and puffed up their chests. Then the other table decided it was time for their question. I’d been basically ignoring them for most of the meal: An elderly couple, both very white indeed in the deep shade of the verandah. The lady of the couple spoke up, her voice both reedy, and loud with the ease of authority.