My high school chemstry teacher was a tortured soul.
He loved science and I really believe that he loved teaching. His minor obstacles were that he was a bit of a nerd and that he taught in an all boys school. His major obstacle was that since almost all of us went to catholic grade school that our combined understanding of science consisted of...." cause God said so."
So every day he'd walk in expecting to share with us the beauty and wonder of basic chemistry and he's be greeted with glassed over stares and kids sleeping in their seats. The only break in the monotony would occur when we'd go into the lab and that would turn into a circus of people literally setting creating little paper cities and action scenes and then setting them afire with godzilla like bunson burners and rubbing alcohol. Oh yeah, and someone figured out that you could shoot porceline boiling chips with the rubber band strap from your safetly goggles...in what became known as the "Jimmy Sciolia eye incident".
He was a robust man and he hung in there pretty well, but ever man has his limits. The story that follows is the one that cracked him. Obviously it wasn't the last time I saw a grown man throw a slobbering, tiwtching, angry fit, but it may have been the first. I know it's the only time I've even seen a man grow a vericose vein in his forehead...while I sat there and watched. In some circles they call that a stroke.
We were to review the metric system and had been given a homework assignment to learn all the prefixes milli-, centi-, kilo-, etc etc.
The teacher walked in, drumming up all the enthusiasm he could muster...." who knows what kilo means ?"
One hand..that of the only smart kid in the class, Bob McClusky, shot into the air.
" Yes, Mr. McClusky ?"
" One thousand."
" CORRECT !!!", you could visibly see the hope growing within him....maybe TODAY was going to be the day that he got through to us. " Who knows what centi means ?"
Again McClusky's hand went in the air.
" Not you Mr. McClusky, someone else." and then he started randomly calling on people.
" Uhhh, 10,000 ?"
"No," somewhat dejected he kept asking.
" Ummmm, a million ?"
" No...no...no....centi...you know like centimeter...a centimeter is this big", he gestured with his fingers, " and a meter is THIS big" and gestured with his arms, " So a centi meter would be like ....?"
"Ummmm, like.....one......one-seventh or something ?"
" Bahhhhhh...the metric system is in multiples of tens...TENS...you know TENS...HUNDREDS...THOUSANDS !!!!" Now he was on the verge of yelling. He had everyones attention and was starting to freak us out a little. The man was not exactly stable.
Finally after a few more guesses, someone finally got it.
Lord knows why, but he had to try one more time, " Who knows how big a Nonometer is ?"
Now we were really scared...because not even McClusky raised his hand. Nanometer ? I never even heard of that shit.
We all looked around in great fear. The only one unplussed was Kurt Schussler who continued to sleep with his head on his desk. But nothing really bothered that kid, he pretty much slept though most of our junior and senior year.
" Nanometer ? ........NANOmeter........", his impatience was growing exponentially..." NANOMETER...
He strolled up the aisles...growing increasing imtolerant and his voice rising with each repetition.
When he got next to Schussler it was almost too much for him to bear. Here he was, pouring himself into his profession...trying to better us...and we were a bunch of unappreciative idiots....and as if it couldn't get any worse, here was a kid sleeping...SLEEPING ! in class.
He stopped at Kurt's desk and giving him a chance to at least pretend that he was awake and paying attention stood behind him and yelled...and I mean YELLED...
Started Kurt's head popped off his desk and 'answered', " uhhhh, SHAZZBAT ?"