Tuesday, May 29, 2012
There was a special treat for us on Sundays. Something besides the donut we got at breakfast. Something besides the smug irony of noticing that when there was a second serving line, the bread was kept inside a clean garbage can, lined with a black plastic bag, so we were -- literally -- eating out of trash cans.
But there was another special treat, one reserved just for officers. Over the nine months of the school year, we spent about two Sundays a month a Linton Hall Military School, for a total of about eighteen Sundays. And there just happened to be eighteen officers, too, three for each of the five companies, plus three battalion staff.
I hadn't really noticed what the special treat was, since I was too busy dealing with the cadets under my command, and worshiping during Mass, in spite of distractions such as Sister Theresa's shouted exhortations to sing louder, and the "ouches" from kids she would hit in the hand with a paddle whenever they didn't sing loud enough for her.
But one day, just as I was about to enter the gym, another cadet informed me that I would get to accompany the Principal, Sister Mary David, during Mass. I had never noticed other officers doing this before. I'm not sure whether you did this if you happened to be "Officer of the Day" on that Sunday, or whether there was a schedule so that every officer got this "privilege."
So anyway, I had to walk in with her, not sure if beside her or with her actually holding my arm as she would with an usher escorting her down the aisle at a wedding. Now kids are notoriously unable to hold back their emotions and keep a "poker face," and my feelings about having to do this must have been pretty obvious. I must have looked as if I had been forced to chew a sour lemon, or a bar of soap, and I'm sure she noticed.
After I accompanied to her seat I was about to return to my company, but no, she told me that I was expected to sit next to her during the entire Mass. More unhappy facial expressions on my part, I'm sure. She made a cutting remark about some small imperfection in my uniform, taking advantage of the fact that I couldn't talk back to her -- not if I knew what was good for me. She probably thought, in her haughtiness, that accompanying her at Mass was some type of honor or privilege, but I certainly didn't feel that way. Even back then I realized that she was a great Math teacher, and an effective manager/administrator, but on the other hand she was responsible for all the suffering that went on at Linton Hall Military School, everything I've written about, and moreover took active steps to censor outgoing mail to keep the truth from getting out, so I had no respect for her.
I am sure that if there had been nineteen Sundays spent at Linton Hall Military School that academic year, I would have been the last person she would have chosen to reward with this special treat a second time.
Copyright 2012 by "Linton Hall Cadet."
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