Ghost from the Past

I had a strange experience a couple weeks ago (October 2022). I was about to enter a 7-11, oblivious to a bum standing by the door. As I opened the door, he said, “Excuse me, could you spare a dollar? Oh, hi, Mr. B.”

I froze. Mr. B is the name students called me when I was a teacher, seemingly a hundred years ago. Actually, I got laid off in 2002, so I saw my last students just two decades ago. Still, that’s some time ago. Since I taught mostly elementary school, how could I possibly recognize one of former students twenty years later?

My mind numb with curiosity, I asked the bum what his name was. He told me, and I instantly remembered him. He attended my favorite school, Dearborn Park Elementary School when I taught there about twenty-five years ago. (To protect his privacy, I’ll call him X.)

X wasn’t one of my regular students, so I didn’t know him that well. He seemed like a nice kid, though he had some behavioral problems. He basically just seemed kind of squirrely, like he couldn’t control himself.

Someone told me that his family emigrated from Ethiopia, and he lived in a poor part of town where he was raised by his mother. Since they lived in a tough neighborhood, his mother was afraid to let him leave the apartment. Thus, he spent much of his childhood locked up, probably in a dump. He couldn’t have received much help in school, because Seattle’s public schools are dumps themselves.

Though he was friendly, X didn’t display the slightest surprise at meeting me. It was as if we had last seen each other a couple days earlier.

Back in my apartment, tucked into my warm bed, I felt a pang of guilt. There I was, safe and comfortable, working on my laptop while a former student—one of my children—was standing around in the middle of the night, apparently homeless, just a few blocks away.

It just goes to show that the people who claim all of Seattle’s homeless people come from out of state are liars. One derelict student doesn’t prove Seattle’s public schools are a pile of shit, but I’ve encountered other former students on the streets. Some of them came from bad homes, but they certainly weren’t helped by Seattle’s bad schools.

All I have to say is fuck the Seattle School Board, fuck the Seattle teachers union, and fuck all the brainless teachers and parents who never supported me when I fought a one-man war against Seattle’s education mafia. About the only consolation is the fact that Seattle itself is sliding off the edge, transforming into one big homeless camp. When I hear people complain about the homeless, the weirdos, the criminals, and the garbage, I just laugh. The cattle of Seattle deserve it.

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