Benched Girls
Ellen L. Baldwin
S weaty bodies and hateful voices--AGAIN! Every day this week! Thank God, Friday had finally come. Yelling voices from the combination gym/cafeteria's basketball court quickly attracted her attention that morning as she hurriedly entered the school.
"I hate you, you bitch! You know it's supposed to be our turn."
"Mr. Montgomery said you couldn't use it."
"We had it first!"
"They didn't get permission."
"The boys always get to use it."
While she was tiring to restore order, the first bell rang and her worst fears came true. In walked the principal! Third time this week! His cordovan wingtips clicked on the highly polished floorboards. His face was red; he looked like he might explode.
"I could hear the ruckus clear out on the parking lot."
"When are you girls going to learn to get along?"
"I'm going to send you home if this happens again."
"I'll call your parents."
"I don't need your attitude." Blah . . . blah . . . blah . . . he droned on in his gray suit monotone.
Timidly stepping up behind the raging man, she tapped him on the shoulder. "Sir, I am a highly trained, experienced educator. How about allowing me to mediate this situation with the girls? After all, they're my responsibility and I believe I'm prepared to handle this type of conflict resolution. I'd like a chance to turn this into a meaningful life experience for these young ladies."
"Go for it," he said, with a big grin on his face. "You'll see how hopeless it is."
As the double steel doors clanged shut behind him, silence pervaded the gym. The girls waited breathlessly to see what their punishment would be. As she rolled the out-of-date, beat-up spinet piano back toward its corner, the sub said, "You girls know the piano bench is only built for two--SO, you're just going to have to learn to take turns! Here's a sign-up sheet for next week."

First published: May 1998