Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Just in Time

I have been witness to three fights in school since I started subbing. This one is my favorite. (I think this was the third.)

10th grade English class. They were supposed to be reading silently for a half hour. They were silent, but not everyone was actually reading. But as I had silence, I was happy enough.

Then, out of nowhere, one of the girls started yelling at another girl. (Seriously, it went from silent to yelling in an instant.) I didn't catch all of it. Something about "saying things" and "tell me to my face".

I recognized that level of anger. I tried to calm and shush, but the angry girl was having none of it. The other girl appeared shocked at the whole thing.

Yelling and posturing followed. I made my way over to the classroom phone and called for help. At this point, the rest of the class had gotten into it, encouraging the two girls to fight it out, so when I finally got another person on the end of the line, she heard that trouble was coming even though the actual fight hadn't started.

I suppose I should have gotten into the middle of this. I could have yelled (but I would have been drowned out by the chaos of the room). And angry girl was very, very angry. She was having none of my calming, so I stood and waited.

The room was set up with three groupings of chairs--one along the back wall, one along the door wall behind the door, and a small one in front of the door wall in front of the door. In the middle of the room was a big open space. Perfect for a fight.

At this point, both angry girl and quiet girl were in the same row in the grouping behind the door. They were close to each other (maybe two chairs separated them), but the rows were too close together for anything to start. They would have to position themselves in the open space in the middle of the room.

Angry girl threw down her binder and stood.

The door to the classroom opened. Security had arrived.

Angry girl had started moving forward, but the door opened as she was moving, so instead of turning left and heading towards the center of the room, she turned right and walked out the door. As if that had been her intent all along.

Security looked at the other girl. "You too."

And the fight was over.

One of the boys who had been encouraging the fight said to me: "Why did you have to call security? I wanted to see the fight."

A second security person arrived. (It had been so loud that the teacher next door also called for backup.) And somehow we managed to get the class settled.

Of course, I ran into the teacher a few days after this. I did not get the reaction I expected.

The teacher knew a fight was coming. She was surprised at the combatants. Mostly because quiet girl hadn't been coming to school, so her even being there that day was unusual.

I don't know if I ever saw quiet girl again. Angry girl ended up at the continuation high school the next year. As did the boy who wanted to see the fight.

To this day (and it's been a few years), I can still vividly see angry girl standing, throwing down her binder, starting forward, and then walking out the door. Security had perfect timing.


  1. I got into a fight once - it was pretty embarrassing...

  2. Ooh, scary. I never saw any fights. My school must have been pretty tame because we didn't have security either. It's sad that it has to be the case, but some people obviously don't deal with anger well.


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