Sometimes it's hard not to think in terms of us versus them. Outnumbered twenty to one, we band together in those moments we share before the next barrage is unleashed. In the faces of my comrades I recognize that thousand yard stare of fatigue. How long can we keep up this way? When will there be some relief?
Maybe a day pass, a few moments away from that front line where every interaction carries do-or-die weight. In close quarters like this, it's hard to know how to proceed. Each turn could prove deadly. Ever decision has a question mark next to it. This is especially true if you have a hole in the seat of your pants.
Fifth grade girls were giggling behind my back, which is nothing new since it is something to which fifth grade girls are prone. As is my custom, I turned to glare at them, a tactic that tends to work for brief periods. At least I could finish giving the instructions to the class before they dissolved into tearful fits of full on laughter.
But that didn't work. When I turned around, the giggles had spread to the adjacent table. That's when I went to my next grown up rhetorical question: "What's so funny?"
Except this one had an answer. One of the girls stifled her amusement long enough to tell me, "Mister Caven, you have a hole in your pants."
"Two of them," chuckled her friend.
It occurred to me at that moment that I had two choices: Absorb the embarrassment and move on or run red-faced from the room, surrendering all authority and dignity in this situation. I was tempted to flee, but instead I held my ground. "Thank you. Now can we return to today's lesson?"
In my head, I imagined the gaping hole that must be expanding with each moment. I only hoped to finish out the hour with a shred of self-esteem with a chance to come back the next day to reassert my dominion.
With a new pair of pants.