Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ted

Seen on the Purple Line to Linden at about 8 a.m.

Ted had the manila envelope tucked beneath his arm. INTER-DEPARTMENT DELIVERY. He figured he’d just drop it in a trash can, a wonderfully anonymous city trash can. Perhaps a trash can closer to his home, though. Just in case.

The class had dutifully passed the envelope around, slipping their instructor evaluations inside. Ted snatched it away from the last student in the front row—Alex? No. Alan? It didn’t matter. What’s-His-Name shot a distrustful look at Ted.

“Dr. Harlowe, isn’t one of us supposed to take the evaluations to the department chair?”

“New protocol, my boy.” He didn’t miss a beat, thankfully.

That was the problem—Ted had been missing too many beats lately. More and more every day. It was one thing to forget his students’ names. It was quite another to forget to prepare tests, or grade papers. Sometimes, in the middle of a lecture, he’d just stop. His mouth would hang open stupidly, the final syllable of whatever word he’d last said dangling from his lips like drool. He’d sort through his brain with sticky mental fingers, trying to remember what came next.

But that wasn’t him. That bumbling, senile old man wasn’t Dr. Ted Harlowe. He was a good professor. He’d been teaching for almost thirty years. He’d published eight books. Eight. Who were these students to judge him? Most of them were incoming freshmen; they’d only known him for this single semester. They couldn’t possibly know all the good he’d done. They couldn’t possibly know what he deserved.

Ted wasn’t ready to be set aside.

I've always thought retirement would be kind of boring. What are you supposed to do to occupy your time? Well, I guess I could find things to occupy my time, but I think I'd have a hard time living without a goal of some kind. I don't like the feeling of being aimless. 

Happy 26th Anniversary to my parents! Here's an awkward picture of them on their wedding day. May they have 26 more years of adorably awkward photos together:
 

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