Thursday, April 17, 2014


Remember when we were little and it was, like, the coolest thing to be selected to clean the erasers in school?  It happened to me more than once.  I loved it!  You got to go into that deep closet down the hall where they stored the linoleum floor polisher.  There were boxes of garbage bags there, and stacks of those little toilet papers that fold into each other, and a shelf full of cleanser next to the mops.  Back behind the garbage can on wheels was the electric eraser cleaner.  You got to flick the switch on the back and the thing started to vibrate, the bag attached to it filling up like a big blue balloon.  The long velvety erasers that were carried down in a bin went gliding into the trough, chalk dust jiggling down and being sucked into the blue bag as your hand guided each one through. You knew your teacher trusted you if she allowed you to go into that dark closet and turn on that metal monster vibrating machine.

Being chosen to clean the erasers was a step down from the ultimate fifth grade teacher assignment, the Big Kahuna of positions: Safety Patrol.
Safety Patrol kids got to wear belts that strapped across the chest and waist.  Neon orange with strips of silver reflector, and a heavy metal badge that looked like a bonafide police badge.  It wasn't until late spring of my last year in Elementary school that I was finally chosen for the Safety Patrol.  I could hardly contain my excitement, though of course no one would ever know that, because by fifth grade it is required that all enthusiasm be squelched beneath the facade of "no big deal." Secretly, though, I felt my heart pumping when Mrs. Jackson handed me my badge and the orange strap.  I nodded my head as she reviewed my responsibilities. I was to aid the crossing guard, and make sure the little kindergarteners and first graders didn't run out into the street when school was out.  I had to stay until the second bell rang, and was to be at the school early in the morning all week, before the kids with rich parents started dropping them off at school. The poor kids all walked.  And we came early to play on the playground before the bell rang.
That whole week I could not play.  I had to maintain the dignity of my position, keeping an eye on the monkey bars, walking the perimeter of the building making sure there were no robbers or other criminals sneaking around. When the first bell rang  knew I had five minutes.  Five eternal minutes before I got to do it… the thing that commanded the attention of all souls on the Pleasant Hills Elementary School playground.  Finally…four minutes and 59 seconds later…Riiiing. Finally  I got to blow my whistle! The emotional release was stunning! I laid into the cold metal in my mouth with all the air an eleven year old's lungs could contain. Can you believe they gave us whistles!?  And can you believe we actually only used them when we were told?  Maybe this is why I was only on the Safety Patrol once.  I don't recall.  I only know it was amazing, and I felt amazing.

I'm trying to figure out how they made it so cool for kids to do chores like clean erasers.  Seriously.  If I could package the trick I would be famous!  (And my house would shine!)

1 comment:

  1. Wow - I thought being chosen just to smack the erasers together to try and remove the dust was cool!!! I'm pretty sure the schools I went to didn't have that nifty machine, unless our scarey janitors didn't allow anyone to use them other than themselves.