He wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer

On Thursday I spent three hours riding herd on a couple of high school computer technology classes…on the second level of the school’s gym. Just why we were holding a computer class in the wrestling-practice area of a gym has its own manila folder in the growing cabinet of ‘stupid’ files – but that’s another story.

As this was obviously not the regular locale for this class, I had no technology to proffer them – in fact, I had nothing for them, which can frequently be the kiss of death for a sub. Fortunately, we had the rolled up wrestling mats to sit on, and most of the fifteen students had a book or some homework…a couple had IPods which are technically against the rules (yeah, like THAT gets enforced) but since they weren’t bothering me, I let ‘em listen. A few kids unrolled one of the mats and practiced break dance moves, while others cheered them on. Very cool. Everything was pretty mellow, and some of the kids seemed to actually appreciate that they had some time to just chill.

Except for one kid, who just could not occupy his time, and could not stop hassling some of the gym class students, who were running laps around the gym – which included going up the two flights of stairs on one end of the floor, across the balcony area where we were, then down the steps on the other end. He ignored repeated requests to stop verbally harassing the runners.

About a half-hour into the fun, a few students and I were leaning on the second-level railing, watching the gym glass below in action and just chatting, when Mr. I-can’t-occupy-myself kept pestering me about going to the bathroom. This had been an ongoing thing since he walked in, and I had told him numerous times that his behavior and attitude needed to improve before I would even consider letting him go to the restroom. As with a lot of kids I deal with, he makes the request as a statement, not asks as a question. Obviously, not a ‘Jeopardy’ fan. He had made three or four good runs at the topic previous to walking up to me at the railing.

“Please. Can I go”.


“Can I go to the bathroom NOW”!

“I told you – no”.






“No. Elbert, you can keep going, but I’ve got more ‘no’s than you do ‘pleases’”.

He paused, looking puzzled. Then said “Pleeeeeassse”.







“Aint happenin’.”




“Check back with me next week .”


“No way, dude.”

At this he paused, apparently searching his mental thesaurus for an alternative to ‘please’. No such luck; the best he could do was a different inflection. “Pleaaaase”? he asked, defiantly hopeful.

“Ummm…not…gonna… hap-PEN”.

He paused a full two-seconds for maximum frustration effect, yelled “F***”! Then went and sat down on one of the rolled up mats.

Returning my attention to the basketball action below, I caught a glance at the two students to my right; one had a huge grin, the other was smiling, shaking his head.

And nobody asked to go to the bathroom ever again.


2 thoughts on “He wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer

  1. Paul Sears March 14, 2010 / 1:05 am

    Maybe the kid needs Uroxatril.


    • poetluckerate March 14, 2010 / 6:08 am

      No meds needed for this kid…he just needed to do some very basic behavior mod and he could’ve gone to the bathroom. Even as a sub, I tell them if you’re not working or you’re being disrespectful, you’re not going anywhere – not on my watch!


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