2007-09-04: Learning Curve

Starring:

Ian_icon.gif Kory_icon.gif Lee_icon.gif William_icon.gif

Summary: Lee and William sing the blues about conditions at their school. Kory offers her two cents in between waiting on Ian, who also finds his way into the conversation.

Date It Happened: September 3, 2007.

Log Title Learning Curve


The Secret Lair

Lee and William arrive, park Lee's crappy old Volvo in the single parking space allotted to them around back in the postage-stamp lot shared by the building, and come in. From their expression, their first days at school have not gone very well. Lee heads straight for the coffee brewing in the back room, pouring himself and William a styrofoam cup. He doesn't even make nasty comments about the kid reading the /Vampirella/ comic. He really must be preoccupied. "Hey Kory." he says. "You meet William yet? This is William. Teaches at Brubaker with me, went over there on the…what the hell do we even /call/ it now? 'Inner city outreach program' just about makes me throw up a little in my mouth."

William follows after Lee. He's not so obviously angry. But an air of outward calm doesn't mean he's not stewing within. Not for someone who puts up as many masks as William does. "Kory? Nice to meet you." William offer out his hand to shake before he'll take the coffee. "Yeah, well, we knew it sounded too good to be true, didn't we?"

Kory is sitting on a stool by the register with a copy of Empowered open in front of her. A pair of goggles are perched atop her head, but her attention is on the group of junior high age boys who are trying to sneak into the over eighteen section. Body language implies she's boredly waiting for a customer. But the moment Lee greets her, she suddenly lights up. "Hi, Lee! There's bagels in the bag." She swivels her head around to turn a gigawatt smile on William. "Hi, William! You work with Lee, how nice…would you like me to run to Jamba Juice so you have something sweet to counteract eight hours in his presence?" She ambles over to shake his hand, and then clears her throat extravagantly in the direction of the boys she was watching.

Lee says, "Oh no, it's not me this time. Tell her, it's not me. It's Assistant Principal O'Donnelly. That little four foot nothing woman has more evil in her whole body than every costumed dingleberry on every page of this dump." He gulps down his coffee. "I mean, my class, my /class/…" He can't even say it.

William laughs over to Kory. "No, it's actually not him. Not this time. The assistant principal does count at evil. Not terrorist level, but certainly horns." William states in a rather dry tone. He takes his coffee to sip from it. "Can we say some children need jailtime?"

Ah, the sweet, sweet smell of fresh comics. The door makes whatever noise it makes when it opens, and Ian comes slouching in. He pauses just inside the door to survey t he riches before him, rather theatrically.

Kory akimbos her hands. "Well, you're both taller than she is. And she's got the position of authority, so she's gotta act all hard. Like she's nine foot tall when she's four foot five. Joe Jackson, you know. But this is New York City. Best city in the world except when it screws up at the school level. Maybe she's not so much evil as she is, y'know, frustrated. Like you both are, huh?" She glances up at the noise of the door opening. "Hi, there! Welcome to the Secret Lair!" she calls to the newcomer.

Lee says, "Last year at John Philip Sousa, the kids had carved 'Fuck Jones' into their desks within the first thirty minutes of class. Here? They don't even bother, they just say it to my face. And O'Donnelly says we have to do 'focused skills training' in every period. That means teaching the test questions, by the way. For the state tests in four months. It's stat-mongering, nothing more. And so now it's all on me." Still thinking about himself rather than the kids.

William smiles over to Kory. "I'd turn on the intimidation, but I'm not sure yet that I'd want to lose my job." William says, still in that calm tone, even as Lee is ranting. "I'll teach the math the kids need to know. If she doesn't like it, she can take me on. I hate that I'll have to focus on what is on the test, but I did that last year, too. I just didn't expect as many kids to pass." And that's being honest. "Sometimes I wish I could bring a knife to school, and just smack the blunt side against my palm. It'd do wonders for classroom management."

"Oh, poor you," Kory rolls her eyes, letting Ian find his own way and call out if he needs her, rather than pouncing him. "You who, y'know, *chose* to go into teaching. For cryin' out loud, Lee, you have to teach the test, but you don't have to *only* teach the test, do ya?" She wrinkles her nose. "It'll get the state off your back, okay, fine, but what will really do right by the kids?" Kory is a voracious reader; she's been a customer at the Lair for almost half her life. So her point of view regarding 'what's good for students' might be a teeny bit skewed. She turns her gaze to William. "Is that the only thing that'd help? That's awful."

Ian flashes Kory the sort of grin that has almost definitely been practiced in front of a mirror, but is genuine, nonetheless. He comes bouncing over to Kory, and plants an elbow on the counter. "Would you,by any chance, have the new hardcover Hellboy?"

Lee snerks at William's comment: "You better not. They'd make you use it." He says: "Right now these little monsters won't even open their books, let alone learn anything, if I can get them to answer a question per period I'm doing good. They dumped every discipline problem and underperforming misfit into our classes, and when we don't make the grade four months from now? They can cut that performance pay right down to nothing. It's robbery!"

William shrugs over to Kory. "Well, it would make me feel better. Knives can be like baby blankets in that way." And maybe the ex-SEAL is joking. "So we work our tails off. And we force those kids to step up or else. We challenge them. We go all drill sargent on them." He states. Ian gets a curious look, but then his attention is back on sipping from his coffee.

"Oh, sure do!" Kory chirps back at him. "You want a shrink-wrapped one, or this one, autographed by Mignola?" She thumbs back over her shoulder at the one sitting high up behind the counter. She grins at Lee, while she lets Ian think his choice over. "You ever see a movie called 'Take The Lead'? All you gotta do is prance a hottie or two in front of them with the teaching material on a too-tight muscle shirt, if Hollywood is to be believed." Egging Lee on; fun and free entertainment. "Barring that, a bake sale, and some parent-teacher conferences. I mean, the moms and dads or big sibs can't all be so obtuse that they don't care if little Rashawn or Shaniqua ends up in jail, or pregnant, or pregnant and in jail, can they?"

Ian's eyes get very big at the mention of the signed one. "How many of my kids wouold the signed one cost?" he asks, in a tone that borders on reverent.

Lee groans and puts his hand to his forehead as Kory taunts him. "You're killing me, Kory, you're killing me." He says, "Yeah, that's the spirit. Kick their asses." to William. "Maybe I'll get some of your tricks and use those."

"One ninety nine," Kory answers, without even having to go check. It's a slight undercut of prices that might be found around the neighborhood, what with the new movie coming out in a few months. "You could put down fifty and we'd hold it for you for thirty days."

She grins at Lee. "S'only 'cause I know you can take it, and you're cute when you're all aggravated." She stage-whispers to William, "This is only the light stuff. You should see him when I go into proper geek mode. His ears get all red."

William smiles over to Lee. "I'm considering bringing in some materials on SEAL training. Try to make an impression about how much I could hurt them with one hand. Maybe fear will be a happy motivator. Even if I can't use it." He looks over to Kory. "That works to a certain extent. But at some point the school doesn't want to anger parents who fund them." At least not this school. "One ninety nine for a comic? I think I'm glad I stick with paperbacks."

Ian makes a little pained sound, as if Kory had physically punched him, and then exhales. "Unf. I'll go with the unsigned, I think," he says, reluctantly. And he ignores the unspoken laws of New Yorker interaction to frankly eavesdrop and ask, "You were a SEAL?"

"Eighteen ninety-five it is," Kory warbles, giving him the solemn look of one who has been on the wrong end of the wallet from a brilliant collector's piece. She obligingly falls silent, though, for William; the SEAL thing might turn out to be fascinating. She keeps a fraction of her attention on the conversation as she goes to find Ian's purchase.

Lee finishes off his coffee and chucks the cup in the recycle bin. "The military. That's the ticket. Then maybe some of these bozos would get shot." he snarks.

"Or get discipline." Will states towards Lee before he nods over towards Ian. "I was. I was with the SEAL teams for five years as an officer. Now I teach math. I'm not always sure which one is harder." That last part is said jokingly as he finishes off his coffee.
Ian squints up one eye at William as if that's the craziest thing he's ever heard, even as he fishes out the appropriate amount. "Why'd you quit?" he demands, as if he had a perfect right to.

Occasionally Lee's snark hits a button with Kory and this is one of those occasions. She is gentle with Ian's purchase. "Leto Jones, that is a terrible thing to say. You were a teenager once, and maybe you weren't some ghetto kid who thinks the 'tude is everything, but — oh…!" She turns back to Ian, visibly wrestling her temper back into place. He's got his attention on William, though, so she has a moment to calm down while Ian elbows his way into the conversation.

Lee smirks at Kory's outburst nastily. He takes a much more dismal pleasure in provoking her than she does in provoking him. He is interested in William's response, though.

William looks over to Kory. "The kids at this school are not ghetto kids at all. They're upper west side kids who were raised by nannies." He adds that calmly before he looks over to Ian. He ponders the question for a moment as if deciding whether he'll answer it. Then he shrugs. "I'm gay. I loved the job, but I was tired of living under 'don't ask, don't tell.'" He says the first part matter of factly. There's more rancor on don't ask, don't tell than in any part of talking about his issues with the students and administration.

Ian's face falls. Here's someone who likely couldn't conceal his real feelings to save his life. "That's bull," he says, cutting off the second syllable. "I'm sorry. Listen, thanks for serving, though." He glances at Lee, and then back at William. "In fact, sounds like between the two of you you've been part of the most worthy and the most seriously underpaid professions."

Kory *blinks* at William. She's startled; to hear Lee talk about his school, it's practically Fort Apache. But she sticks to her original point. "Sure, getting them shot is really going to help when their generation has to step up. Discipline, okay. But still. Like you'd even make it through boot camp, Lee." Those who can't, teach, isn't that the adage? But she doesn't go that far. Kory takes another breath, then tries a softer tack. "Teaching the test isn't really gonna be useful to them, though, no. Is it really that impossible to catch their interest, their imagination?" She stops, and glances at Ian.

Lee looks, well, a bit abashed at William's story, and even moreso at Ian's compliment. On some level he feels he's not worthy either of noble company or a noble profession - especially one he has never really felt he chose. "They don't have any respect, they won't even listen." he complains, but his heart's not in the complaint, and he even nods a little to Kory's suggestion despite himself.

William looks over to Ian. "That's life in the military. I knew it before I entered the academy. I wouldn't trade those years and the things I learned for anything." He states before he looks over to Lee. "Then we teach them respect. We keep going and going and going and we don't give up. Eventually we'll wear them down. I can outlast any 14 year old in stubbornness."

"You just prefer to think they won't, 'cause that gives you more excuses to bitch'n'moan," Kory says, chin lifting. "It's easier to whine about how hard they make it for you than to just roll up your sleeves and go for it." She suddenly snaps her head around. "Hey. If you drool on that Kevin Matchstick, you're buying it!" she addresses a pimply boy with bottle-bottom glasses. He wipes his mouth on his sleeve.

"Well, it's never sounded like anyone went into with the money. Not the actual national forces, though I hear you can make a pretty penny as a PSC, or whatever they call the mercs like the Blackwaters now," Ian says, putting the Hellboy in his bag. "I'm sorry," he says to Lee, gently, before following Kory's gaze and looking a touch surprised at the speed of her rebuke. "Man. You got eyes in the back of your head, lady."

Lee says, "'Roll up my sleeves'. Really, that's your advice. Thanks a bunch, Kory, I never thought of that." He shakes his head. "Well…I've got papers to grade. Pick you up tomorrow, William?"
William nods his head looking over to Lee. "That sounds like a plan. Wait, you've got papers already?" He asks. "We haven't done much beyond syllabus and procedures." Because Will likely has a way he wants every single thing in his classroom done. "Tomorrow, right."

Think of it all the time, but do you actually *do* it?" Kory ripostes, smiling sweetly at Lee, now.

"You kinda gotta," Kory turns her attention now to Ian. "To work here. Labour of love, though." She shrugs. "Approach anything you do with love, and the rest falls easy into place." She hops back onto her stool. "Nice meeting you, William. I gotta get back to work." School's out for them, which means the kids'll be filtering in any minute.

"Well said," Ian says, attention momentarily caught by a Hellboy lunchbox.

…Sometime later, after everyone leaves, Lee pokes his head down the stairs from the private apartment above and says: "Kory. Thanks for letting me vent." and even gives her a thumbs-up, if not a smile. He clearly respects her view a lot more than his first instinct permitted him to express.

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