James River very high. A continual roar in our ears caused by the water falling over the cataract just above the island. Rebels fired a large shell over the prison to scare us.
—John Ransom’s Andersonville Diary, 1881
Day 2: Irving, Dill, Beauregard, Earl, Benny, and I were in raft number 601 on another cold river with another raft guide. Of course there was an amount of bickering. It’s what they do. It’s what they enjoy. They’re really good at it, so now, as their teacher, I enthusiastically encourage something they’re good at.
A river-seasoned, local older fellow named Creed was our raft guide and after only about two minutes on the river he said ... You assholes sure do bicker a lot.
I gave Creed a hard look. With an expression of pure approval.
On the way back home we all stopped in Murphy, North Carolina at a Chinese and American buffet restaurant. You could describe the buffet-style eating of over thirty eighth graders as frenzied, with a slurping and gnawing and hiccupping and chewing and licking and crunching quality to it. Then you've got the sounds Old Burrell makes while he enjoys his food.
When you could tell the restaurant employees were finally ready to get rid of us and at least break even on the ocean of Coke and Sprite and Dr. Pepper refills and cat-head-sized rolls soaked in butter which were enormously popular with Huckleberry, a very Chinese waitress who was working our tables all of a sudden said something to me I couldn’t decipher. Having a few manners I politely asked her to repeat what she said … she did … and then I asked her politely to give it a try one more time. I was sitting at a table with Winx and Click and they finally lifted their heads from cramming Chinese and American food items into their holes to see what the international relations rumpus in Murphy, North Carolina was all about.
Here’s what our determined Chinese waitress said to me: When you get to the cash register tell them you’re a bus driver and you eat for free.
I said I’m not a bus driver. I’m a teacher. I drive a little school bus. I drive these kids around … in a little school bus.
She wagged a finger … You no bus driver?
I’m looking at her, inquisitively, amusedly, with quite a bit of the two buffets in my guts and she’s looking at me with my three days of gnarly-looking beard and my day-two raft trip do-rag which has red and yellow flames on it and I’ve got on beat-up old cowboy boots and bad pants and a moldy jacket which looks like it emits a fragrance, and it does, and a social studies-type thought finally hit me: my honky ass just got profiled.
Next Entry ... May 4: Waving The White Flag Already?