The school teacher begins each year with a “getting to know you” period of time, so she/he and the other students can familiarize themselves with the people they’ll be spending the next nine months with, gestating another year of elementary education.
A quick way to get a good grasp on a kid’s maturity level is to ask them what they want to be when they grow up, so Mrs. Grover, Johnny Calvin’s third-grade teacher, began each year by having her students stand up and tell the class what they wanted to be when they grew up.
Missy Ephramson said she wanted to be a ballerina, and she was taking classes at Miss Martha’s Dance School, over in Eatonton, to make that happen.
Josh Dumke said he was going to be a mechanic, because he liked to take things apart, and when he went to sit back down at his desk, the tray fell off and everyone laughed.
Johnny Calvin said he didn’t know what he was gonna be, but whatever it was, weren’t nobody gonna tell him how to do it, and he was gonna get paid for it, you can bet your butt.
Nobody knew whether to laugh or gasp at Johnny Calvin saying the word “butt” right out loud for Mrs. Grover and everyone else to hear, so the room was dead silent when Mrs. Grover, a 20-year veteran of shenanigans like those perpetrated by Johnny Calvin, loudly cleared her throat and told Johnny Calvin that he could sit right down and thanks to him, the whole class was going to need to write a paragraph about the career path they wanted to take for homework, and instead of having “discussion time” they could get their math books out and turn to table 1 of beginning multiplication.
Mrs. Grover did not play.
The next day, each member of the class was asked to stand and read their paragraph.
Missy Ephramson said there weren’t a whole lot of want ads for ballerinas in town, and her momma said the ads for dancers weren’t the kind of dancer she’d want to be when she grew up, so she decided she’d be a nurse instead.
Josh Dumke’s dad sent pictures of his garage in with Josh and helped him find a bunch of information on vocational education.
Johnny Calvin brought in a hand-made yard sign that said, “Vote for Johnny Calvin, U.S. House of Representatives,” and told Mrs. Grover that he was gonna be a Congressman, because there wasn’t a job description and they got paid to do the job however they wanted to do it, you can bet your butt.
Mrs. Grover retired after Johnny Calvin’s third-grade year, and Johnny Calvin went on to represent his district, where Josh Dumke owned a garage and Missy Ephramson-Dumke had a dance school and everyone lived happily ever after.
(The only part of this story that isn’t a filthy lie is the part about there being no real job description, or oversight, other than the votes of the constituency, for your representatives in Congress. That’s your job.)