The Truck of Patience

I can't remember what the trigger was, but the other day I was reminded of a highschool history teacher of mine, who had a very peculiar tactic for managing anger at the class. (Coincidentally and tangentially, Izzlepfaff! has a humorous look at some gradeschool memories today)

So, this teacher was known to be one of the toughest, strictest and scariest history teachers in the school.

His classroom was the very last one, at the end of hallway, automatically giving him a few more scary points. The first day of his class, he would stand behind his podium (he was one of the few teachers who used a podium) and he would give an almost non-stop, rousing lecture, punctuated occsionally by the slamming of his heavy ring down on the wooden podium. This was incredibly effective at immediately waking you up if you ever even started to think about dozing off. Also, on the first day of class, he would explain the little toy truck that sits on his desk.

The little toy truck represented his patience. Whenever the class' misbehavior began to upset him, he would slowly walk over to his desk and push the truck forward a few inches. On the first day, he always warned, “don't ever let the truck reach the edge of the desk.”

One day, the class was working on quiet individual assignments and the teacher was at his desk. A couple kids were whispering when they shouldn't have and suddenly we all heard the teacher loudly clear his throat to get our attention. We looked toward his desk, where we saw him put two fingers on the truck and slowly move it forward a couple inches. Somebody giggled at this, which caused him to again move the truck forward. Just as he took his hand away, another giggle or whisper burst out. This time, after moving the truck again, he did not take his hand off, and just stared down at it. Again, someone had the nerve to whisper about what was going on and thus the vicious cycle had started. As people's giggling compounded, the teacher began moving the truck in a slow continuous path right up to the edge of the desk. When it reached the edge, a few people “ssshhh”-ed the noise down and the room was silent. The teacher pulled his finger back and with one last push, sent the truck off the edge of his desk. We all sat there in silence, and so did the teacher. But nothing happened. We sent the truck of patience over the edge and that was it. We sat for the remainder of the class period, in silence, and so did he.

We were the first class to do this? Did he not have a plan for when the truck actually made it off the edge? Maybe he knew the psychology of the truck/teacher/student dynamics would get us to all shut up once the truck fell. Maybe he was just a cool history teacher.

4 thoughts on “The Truck of Patience

  1. andrewgd

    Didn’t he also have the Dante quote above his door, “Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here.”? Perhaps that was just during finals.

    Were we smart enough to realize that he was a good teacher because he was hard, or is knowledge that only comes after passing the class? Did we recognize in highschool that the harder teachers were often the better ones?

    Although, I don’t look back fondly on Mr. Krom. He was pretty much just a jerk…

  2. lopolis

    Yeah, Mr. Krom was the teacher to break the hard=good rule. He was hard because he was a jerk, you’re right. And he was always too busy hitting on the cute girls to give a shit about anything else.

    But back to the good teacher… The “Abandon all hope…” sign came up during midterms and finals. I’d forgotten about that. I think most people realized he was a good teacher at the time.

  3. The Admiral

    I had him once, and you were in my class. you helped me with a speech, and i ended up getting an A. Coincidentally, i think i have aced any speech i have given from that point on. normally i wouldn’t have cared, but something inside me really wanted to do well on that speech. (maybe because i didn’t want him to kill me.) anyway, my point is, for whatever reason, he motivated me to do well, and it appeared to stick with me. looking back, he really was a great teacher, and i never really understood it until now.

    mr. krom, on the other hand…i think i’m the only one who actually liked him. he gave me my one and only detention, with Dana Ollette (however her name is spelled) because we walked in 30 seconds (literally) after the bell rang (neither of us had ever been late before, this was early in the year) i was quite angry at his decision…until i got to detention. it was probably the most entertaining after school experience of my life, as we sat there, and just babbled on about nothing for a good hour. i don’t even remember what he told us, but i remember laughing a lot, along with being very confused. i’ll never forget looking at dana, and her looking at me, both of us with the ‘whhhaaa??’ expression on our face.

    ah memories.

    man, it’s easy to babble when you’re at work.

  4. SamX

    That reminds me of my high school history teacher, whom we referred to as the “poster boy for Prozac.” A friend of mine in another class charted his mood swings on a piece of paper. Some day he was really perky and fun, and other days the truck started at the end of the desk. Once a year or so he’d have a big freak-out about people not doing their homework or whatever, yell at us, and then storm out of class. We were so terrified that we didn’t all whoop, “Free period!” and take off – we just sat there, wondering what we should do. He definitely kept us on our toes. (He was also a pretty great teacher because he was hard. I’m not sure his craziness made him a better teacher, but it certainly made him more entertaining.)



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