Sunday, January 25, 2015

Basic Economics I: Haley's Lesson

I took Econ 11 in grade ten, the same year I learned that my body wasn't one of the ones that worked entirely properly.  I wasn't diagnosed with PCOS then, but I could have been.  Should have been?  But maybe I wasn't ready to hear.  Either way.
The thing I remember most about Economics wasn't in the textbook, wasn't in a lecture, wasn't my teacher - whom I loved; she was comfortable, kind, and had understanding eyes - it was in a quiet and beautiful moment with one of the Barbiest girls in school.
The class dynamic was unique for me - there were only four girls - and there were students from every grade.  I was used to girl-heavy classes like French Immersion and Advanced English, classes where I knew most of the kids.  I didn't know anyone at all when I walked into that room.  It was fun to be in a room where no one knew me - where I got to decide what side of me to be for fifty minutes a day.
Haley was perfectly gorgeous - slim and graceful and shiny - and likeable, though really really bad at Econ.  She picked me as a partner for every project, and all the boys tried to sit next to us and steal our ideas.  It was far from my normal - and it was awesome.
One day - probably a Friday afternoon, that chafing time of week - we were supposed to be doing groupwork, and became too rowdy to bear.  The teacher slammed her textbook down on her desk and shouted. She gave us to the count of ten to put our desks back in rows and sit still and quietly or else we'd have to stay after class.  There was a huge scraping and clanking as we whipped our desks back into place and dashed to sit down.
Just when she reached ten, the room fell silent.  Every desk was in place, and every body was still.  In front of me, J didn't notice that his stack of books was teetering on the edge of his desk - hipchecked by a lanky grade twelve on his way down the aisle.
The teacher turned to the board and began to write our homework down, when the books came crashing to the floor.  She turned, dagger eyes at the ready.
Nobody dared move.
If we stirred, we risked the wrath of the entire class - nobody wanted to be the one to make everyone stay late.
But the awful thing was, J was in a wheelchair, and couldn't pick up his own books.  It had to be one of us.  The books just lay there, weighted with meaning, a challenge, a metaphor.
It felt like forever until someone was brave enough to stand up and pick up the books.  Haley stood up and walked across the room.  She picked up each book and dusted it off and made a neat pile on J's desk.
You know that ache in the back of your throat that you get when you see something that's just about perfect?  Haley might've been bad at Econ 11, but she understood the driving imperative of a good economy - that those who can, should.
I've got too much to say about this topic for one post.  More later.
Haley, wherever you are - God bless you.

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