Place in Life

Daily Prompt Cringe-Worthy Do you feel uncomfortable when you see someone else being embarrassed? What’s most likely to make you squirm?

“All-right, Kirk. Pass the trash can around so everyone can throw in their garbage.”

I can imagine my little brother — fourth grade? Carrying the metal trash can from desk to desk so his classmates could throw in the construction paper leavings of whatever project they’d been doing. He’d have loved that because it made him the center of attention AND he was moving around not stuck sitting at a desk. His class got to leave, but he had to stay after school and finish cleaning up the room. My brother was a discipline problem, and, I’d guess, almost unteachable. (The “almost” inserted as an acknowledgement that he may have learned something.)

“It’s full, Mrs. Whatever.”

“Well, step on the trash and smash it down.”

At that moment, in an evil congruence of stars, I walked in to see if he was ready to go home just as his teacher said, “Kirk, you’ve found your place in life.” He was standing in the trash can.

“You have no right to talk to my little brother like that,” I said.

My brother was constantly in situations like this one. Most people are hurt by public shaming; I don’t think my brother was. I don’t think he cared if people hurt him or beat up on him or made fun of him as long as they were noticing him. I, on the other hand, couldn’t stand to see my brother maligned. It didn’t make me cringe; it made me want to kill.

10 thoughts on “Place in Life

    • I don’t remember, Maggie. Kirk was hurt by what she said. The next thing I remember was taking his arm and pulling him out of the room. I told my parents and they had a talk with the teacher. She told them Kirk was a major disturbance in her classroom. The situation was far from ideal. We’d been attending one school for 4 months then a new school opened and we were transferred there and distributed in classes that were already going on. Now I feel kind of sorry for this teacher; she probably had a good class going and my brother showed up (he was incorrigible), but she didn’t handle it like a grown up.

  1. I always feel worse for other people than I do for myself … and I have a lot of trouble understanding how a TEACHER could say something like that to a child. Shoot the bitch.

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