The Saga of the Plants Named Bob
I taught various English courses at Juanita High School from the fall of 1989 to the spring of 2000, when I retired from teaching to enter the exciting world of the motorcycle business.
Even with twenty years of teaching experience I was a first- year teacher at JHS, and thus was assigned a portable for my classroom. It took very little time to become convinced that my portable was a much better setting for teaching. Every year after that I had the opportunity to move in to the main building, and every year I turned it down.
My portable had so many advantages! On nice days I could leave the door open. When it was wet and/or cold I could control the heat, whereas the temperature in the main building could not be controlled by individuals and varied widely due to hundreds of students entering and leaving multiple access points thousands of times a day. The portable was quieter. It was far enough away from the main office that administrators usually eschewed walking all that way to interrupt with something. My parking spot was right behind the portable, where I could keep tabs on my car or motorcycle. That was handy when a side job called for me to drive a full-size Hummer to school. Too big for the parking space, so I merely drove over the curb and parked it on the grass. If I needed to talk to a student, after class I had about 20 yards of walking to the building for a short chat. Perfect.
At some point I added a small plant to my desk. I used “Bob” in all sorts of ways. I could use him for a prompt for a creative writing assignment or for ideas for my science fiction students – all kinds of uses. Every once in a while, Bob would pass over the chlorophyll bridge and be replaced. Bob I, Bob II, III, IV, etc.
Usually, by third period the coffee cup I had started the day with was almost empty and the contents cold, so I would empty the dregs into Bob’s pot. One day a student paused after class to say “You really have no idea what you’re doing, do you?” This was not a comment I’d heard before, so I looked puzzled. The student was in the JHS horticulture program, which was very well run and taught, and popular with students. He explained to his clueless teacher that caffeine is poisonous to most plants.
Oh. After that I gave only water to Bob and did much better.
On nice days I would sometimes place Bob on the railing so he (or she) could enjoy the fresh air.
One fine spring Friday I put Bob outside and forgot about it when I left at the end of the day. When I returned on Monday morning, I was dismayed that miscreants unknown had cruelly thrown Bob against the wall of the building, apparently several times, and all that remained were small shards of plastic plant pot, little bits of dirt, and green shreds of Bob. Students in all of my classes were furious beyond imagination the someone had “murdered” Bob.
In the spring of 2000, I came up with a mostly good idea. My classroom walls were extensively decorated, another asset to a classroom in a portable that was not used by other teachers. The decorations were mostly large posters of cars and motorcycles. When students asked, I explained that they were there for my enjoyment, as students were supposed to be looking at me. Besides, most English classrooms were decorated with posters of white men who had died centuries ago – meh. But I also had other posters and other things.
My mostly great idea was that on June 1st I would begin to give away all the décor items to students who wanted them, in the order of their grade average in my class. The downside of this was that many students really liked the idea, to the extent that they now wanted any assignment or test graded immediately so they could discern their rank. Since the assignments and tests were almost entirely essays, I had to up my grading game.
On June 1st, the student with the highest GPA was in fourth period, and to the shock of many, he did not select the 2 foot by 3-foot poster of a 427 Ford Cobra, which most had assumed would go first. As the days went by the decor disappeared at a gradual rate.
One day I was asked if the gift offer applied only to what was on the walls. I had to think, but decided that anything that did not belong to the district or was my personal property would be fine. In that fashion, Bob VIII went on to a new and no doubt exciting existence living in a sorority at USC!
This past Christmas, Nancy, the Lady of the Manor in Absentia, gifted me a “Whoville tree.” Yesterday we planted it in my front yard, and of course I named the plant Bob IX.
Looks like Bob IX’s life will also be perilous. This morning it appears that a rabbit nibbled on him during the night. This evening I will cover him with a large inverted bucket to try and preserve his life. Here’s to Bob IX- live long and blossom!
Copyright 2021 David Preston