Note: While I have kept as many details as possible completely honest, I have changed all of the names of the people in these stories. I didn’t think it would be fair to write about them in the way that I have if I hadn’t protected the real people a bit. In the case of one particular person, I don’t remember his real name anyway. Also, please don’t take anything I say in this story to be tacit approval for the way I or anyone else acted. I was in High School, and sometimes acted like quite a punk.
The biggest caper involving Mr. Grady concerned a video that he was planning to show in our class. We knew that a film was on the schedule because there was a TV and VCR on a cart in our room at the beginning of class. We asked him about it and he told us that we would see it in the last half of the class, after that 15 minute break.
When break time came, Mr. Grady left the room, as people went to the bathroom, caught some fresh air, or whatever they wanted to do. Some of the class stayed inside. One of the other students, Shane, and I were standing near the TV and talking about something Mr. Grady had done earlier that was unintentionally hilarious. One of us got the idea that it would be funny if we switched one of the plugs on the back of the VCR. I honestly don’t remember whose idea it was, but I did think it was a brilliant one.
Like many DVD players today, the VCR had 3 RCA-type plugs: a red, a white, and a yellow for the actual video signal. The red and white were for audio left and right channels. All we did was to switch the white audio channel with the yellow video plug—just two. We giggled as we sat down and waited for Mr. Grady to enter and class to restart.
The rest of the class knew what we had done. It wasn’t secret. The problem with the class was that everyone was in on everything together. We all had a secret disdain for him that was due both to the fact that he openly disliked all teenagers, and the fact that he had somehow created a new strain of boredom that was completely resistant to all forms of self-entertainment. So, we were all co-partners in crime, trying to give him enough ulcers to ruin any trips to IHOP that he had planned for his golden years. It was pure evil, but it was what we all thought.
When Mr. Grady returned class started as usual. We resumed counting his uhhh’s and doodling aimlessly in our notebooks. Finally, he announced that it was time to watch our video. In many classes, messing with the video would have been social suicide. Everyone knew that videos were more entertaining than class lecture. But on the few occasions that Mr. Grady had actually shown us films they happened to be even more boring than his lectures had been. They were from the 1970’s, and consisted of long-dead economists discussing numbers in thick accents. I was pretty sure some of the economists were even dead before the interviews began.
Mr. Grady hit the play button and the VCR began its whirring noise. The TV continued to show snow. He looked puzzled, and he actually slapped the side of the TV, as if he needed the vacuum tubes to warm up or something.
“Is it plugged in?” Shane asked. This was a hilarious question due to the fact that both the TV and VCR were clearly on, but it was hilarious.
Mr. Grady didn’t answer.
“Is it on channel 3?” I called out. Back in that day, the TV had to be tuned to channel 3 or 4 in order to get the VCR to show a video.
Mr. Grady still didn’t answer, but now clearly frazzled, he began to pull random plugs out of every possible place on the TV and plug them into other equally random places. We continued to ask our questions.
“Mr. Grady, I don’t think it is getting electricity.” “Maybe it needs to be on channel 4.” Are you sure the TV is actually on?” We were enjoying ourselves more and more, the more upset Mr. Grady was clearly becoming.
Finally, Mr. Grady gave up. I stated to feel bad about what I had done. I asked him if I could try to fix it. He agreed. I was actually his favorite, even though I was the secret source of much of his harassment, and he usually agreed to anything I asked.
I stood up and looked at the mess. There were wires tangled all over by this point. It now looked more confusing than an old fashioned telephone exchange. But I began to unplug everything and rewire it according to what anyone could clearly see was the proper arrangement. This took me about 5 minutes.
After that we watched the most entertaining video he had ever showed. I still remember the title, Chicken-omics.
I have since thought of my time in that class many times. Mr. Grady was one of the worst teachers I have ever had. He expected students that he openly disliked to endure his torture without treating him poorly. Or, maybe he didn’t—maybe he just didn’t care at all anymore. But that didn’t excuse the way I or the rest of the class treated him. I have felt guilty about it many times. It gave me some fun stories, but I’ve always hoped that our class was the worst he ever had, and if nothing else, at least he had some funny stories of his own to tell about us, the class from hell. -Ryan
Stay posted for further episodes.