I sat in the back corner, hearing the kids around me making comments about how much of a loser I seemed to be. He looked over at me, making eye contact with me and looking back at the kids. At first I didn’t think he would be saying anything and would dismiss me like all of the other teachers today, but he didn’t. He was different. He stood up and came over to us.
“Can I help you kids?” he asked them.
They all just shook their heads and looked down.
“That’s funny, because I could hear you guys from all the way up there giving frank a hard time. So which one of you guys is going to tell me what exactly is going on here?” he asked.
“We weren’t doing anything. We were just joking around, right Frank?” they say to me.
I sat there not doing anything.
“See, obviously you guys were doing shit you shouldn’t have been. So now we can figure this out the hard way or the easy way.”
Again, they sat there silently, nobody brave enough to come forward with the things they were saying to me.
“Alright, well you guys had your chance so I’ll be writing you all up. You need to serve this detention today and if you guys give frank a hard time again, you’ll be in deeper shit than this. Understand?” He asked angrily.
They nodded and sat there quietly.
He came over to me and since my head was facing downwards towards the desk, he tapped my shoulder. I jumped a little which only made me even more embarrassed, but I looked up.
“Hey, come with me for a second.” he said.
I nodded and got up from my chair.
He took me outside the class and turned to look at me.
I stood there trying to avoid eye contact.
“Hey, are you okay?” he asked kindly.
“Yeah, I’m sorry if I caused any problems, I was trying to keep to myself.” I reply.
“Frank...Don’t try to blame yourself for those assholes. Trust me, I’ve been where you are. It sucks and when you don’t have anybody that’s willing to stick up for you, it’s even worse.”
“Yeah I guess, I just don’t want to make you feel like you have to be a pain for these kids because I can’t stick up for myself.” I say.
“Listen, those kids are the least of my concern right now. They clearly have nothing better to do with themselves. I just want to make sure you’re okay because I know how cruel people can be.”
“Yeah, I’m fine. You don’t need to worry about me.” I say with a half smile.
He giggles, “Okay Frank, I can tell that isn’t sincere, but I also don’t want to keep you out here making you feel even more awkward. But if you ever need anything, I am here and more than happy to help.”
He grabs the door for me and gestures for me to go inside. I walk in and head back to my seat. We continue class, spending the remainder of the period working on homework. The kids don’t bother turning around towards me even though I was completely expecting them to.
The bell finally rings, signaling the end of the period and I get up to leave. I wait for everyone else to leave to avoid any further confrontation and right as I’m about to head out Mr. Way calls me over.
“Hey Frank, could you come here for a second?”
I walk over to his desk and stand there waiting for him to say something.
“So I know I said you could ask me if you need anything, but I was wondering if there’s any way you could help me today after school?”
“With what?” I ask.
“Mostly just sorting shit in this room. I suck at keeping everything tidied and I want this room to look decently presentable for when my boss comes in this week.”
“Mmm, well I think I should be able to stay after to help but I’m not sure for how long.”
“Yeah, I understand. It shouldn’t take that long to get it going but it might take several days if you’re up for it…?” he asks with a smile.
“Yeah, why not. It’s not like i got anything better to be doing. Plus you saved my ass today anyways.”
We both laugh and he continues, “Alright Frank, I’ll see you here later then.”
I smile and nod, heading to my next class thinking about what exactly I just agreed to.