And yet…we had roll call.
Every morning the teacher (who was also born and raised in the area, knew all our parents, knew their parents, and definitely knew their children) would say, ‘Tanya?’ Like she couldn’t see me or didn’t know which one I was.
And dutifully I’d say, ‘Present.’
On some days when I’d maybe rolled out the wrong side of my bed – which was under the circumstance, nearly impossible, my bed being next to a wall – yet, even back then – back then when I had no responsibilities – no idea yet what the hell a T4 was, that gas or toilet paper cost actual money, or that if I left my dirty socks on the floor by the bed they could in fact, remain dirty socks beside a bed for endless weeks – I somehow managed to have bad days. How that was, I have no idea. But on these days I wouldn’t offer my reply quite as promptly.
The teacher would ask, “Tanya?”
Then again, “Tanya?” as she stared at me.
On the third, “Tanya?”, I would reply, “Present.”
Then all would be well and she could move along.
I often wondered what happened if I was sick.
How long did she stand there asking, “Tanya?”
At what point did she mark you as ‘Absent’? Did someone have to tell her? Did she have a 5 time maximum? I wish now that I would have been stronger back then, waited her out, stayed silent until she finally conceded and marked me as absent even though I was clearly sitting there in desk number 6/10. How shocked she would have been when I didn’t answer, she finally went ahead and marked me as ‘Absent’, and then an hour or so later I raised my hand to answer a question in class! Would she have fainted out of sheer surprise? Or simply went on like she’d known all along I was there?
Could you get detention if you weren’t even there as per roll call? I bet not. Damn.
…sigh…another opportunity missed.