Los Angeles Times reported earlier this month, "L.A. Unified board picks Richard Vladovic as new president. By replacing Monica Garcia with Vladovic, the LAUSD board signals the waning influence of former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. This begs the question: Are days numbered for embattled Superintendent John Deasy?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Job Interview Over, Urged to "Have a Nice Day," Harry Does the Best He Can Walking to His Car

Part 2: Veteran Teacher Harry Mills Exits His First Job Interview at a Recently Reconstituted High School in Watts After Being Fired From His Previous Post at Another Reconstituted Low Performing Middle School in Nearby Athens

The following is a work of fiction so the author, a Los Angeles public school teacher, can't piss anybody off who could make his professional life miserable. If you haven't already done so, read Part 1 posted July 14. This story is the follow-up. It is written by Mark J. Blocker solely for your entertainment.

Now done with interviewing for the position at newly reconstituted Nickerson Gardens High School in Watts, English teacher Harry Mills walked along 103rd Street hoping he wouldn't get the job after all. Watts had to be the worst pustule festering on L.A.'s wide open face. Gang members getting fucked up in public in the middle of a Wednesday; spray painted profane gang slogans and busted windows on houses unbelievably occupied by breathing, thinking people; washed-up bums sleeping or dying in the middle of the street; and God only knows what else.
Why didn't Mayor Sotomayor's charter school venture, Premiere Schools for Tomorrow, hold the interviews at Nickerson High itself? It couldn't be any worse than the neighborhood surrounding Track Star Elementary.
Across the street a little Latino grocery was the last business still occupying a stretch of four store fronts. They wouldn't even let customers inside. You had to wait at a fortified screen door, tell the clerk what you wanted, give him the money or some food stamps, then he'd go back to get your items--candy, chips, sodas, cigarettes, baby food--whatever as long as it wasn't fresh or natural.
Three blacks in their 20s dressed head to toe in purple stood by a public phone sharing one of those generic cigarettes that mom-and-pop stores weren't supposed to sell as singles. Harry tried to imagine how that busted-up phone could possibly remain operable and who would want to hold the receiver by their mouth and ear. The three purple loiterers appeared more tentative and nervous than menacing. Harry then spotted an LAPD squad car parked amongst several abandoned heaps in an adjacent dirt lot. A pair of buzzed-cut cops behind the windshield surveyed the scene. A teenage hispanic girl wearing a turquoise blouse with "BITCH" written in sequins across her inadequately supported breasts pushed a baby stroller while two toddlers--a boy and a girl--followed behind dangerously close to the curb. Both children craned their necks looking toward Track Star's playground on the other side of the street.
103rd Street is a two lane thoroughfare with a steady stream of cars going about 25 to 30 miles per hour. Various faded, 20-year-old cars sporting an array of dents and scratches were parked along the curb with two- to four-foot gaps in between. The little girl, wearing a floral jumper and her hair pulled up to a stem sticking straight out of the top her head, paused, and from her low vantage point between two parked cars, surveyed the inviting school and its playground. All the older children were playing kickball, soccer, tetherball and foursquare.
Oblivious to the child's redirected movement, the mother . . . aunt . . .  or baby sitter . . . continued pushing her stroller while the little boy turned back toward the girl.
Lifting the hatch to his Prius, Mills watched the little girl and now the little boy. The little girl turned around, bent over, placed her hands on the curb to steady herself, then stepped backwards into the gutter. Harry tossed his briefcase into the car and immediately stepped into the street to stop traffic. Front ends dipped, but no tires screeched. One of the Grape Street Crips by the phone loped past four parked cars to retrieve the girl. He held her hand and walked her along the sidewalk back to the woman, bringing along the little boy with his other hand.
Harry exhaled, dropped his arms and returned to his car. Fishing the keys from his pocket, he turned around to see the young lady bowing profusely and placing her hands together as if praying to the young man. Then she bent down and began slapping the girl who wailed over the sound of tired engines and cracked tail pipes. The Crip shrugged and stepped back toward his group. One of his partners took a long drag and held in the tobacco smoke while the other grinned shaking his head.

Harry turned and surveyed the playground on the other side of the tall, fortified fence. It had the same bars as wrought iron but none of the decor, just vertical bars with two horizontal reinforcements running across at the top and bottom. On the other side, hundreds of 4th and 5th-grade students squealed as they kicked, chased and caught balls that soared and bounced in every direction under a sonic rain of laughter and screams. The school uniforms were navy blue pants or skirts with white tennis shirts. Some children eschewed the formal games and busied themselves simply chasing each other or conversing on benches. A few teachers or aides milled about, usually with a gaggle of students following closely, vying for adult attention. That sun-baked asphalt with its painted white lines, and the adjacent patch of lush green grass hosted several parties every school day at recess and after the last bell. Harry gazed at the pretty lady teachers and the athletic young men supervising the playground. He noticed an older, graying guy with longish hair and a beard wearing shades and a Hawaiian shirt, leaning against the trunk of a purple jacaranda. The learned fool was gesturing wildly and entertaining about a dozen boys and girls. Suddenly a wave of jealousy washed over Harry. Watts isn't such a bad place after all, he thought.
When he pulled away, the Crips, the cops, the mother and the toddlers were all gone. In their place, an almost naked, emaciated whore the color of dusty obsidian hiked up her thong so the fabric disappeared into her repulsive crotch. An unremarkable tit slipped out of her bikini top and swung a little as she waved at Harry to come on over. A drunk was pissing inside the phone booth. He pointed his front toward the street and the urine streamed as if pouring out a cherub into a fountain--but it splattered all over the sidewalk dangerously close to the prostitute's red high heels. The children and the teachers continued their isolated reverie. Harry checked his lane, merged, and got the hell out of there.

No comments:

Post a Comment