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July 27, 2009
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One of my college goals -- in addition to getting laid -- was not to get a job. I had worked since I was 12 years old: first at a country club, then a convenient store, then a grocery store (at the same time I worked at the convenient store), and then finally at a Pepsi bottling plant. By the time I got to college, I figured I had worked enough. I wanted to focus on my academics and I didn’t want any responsibilities outside of school. And that philosophy earned me a 4.0 my freshman year. Unfortunately, I was paying for my own college and I couldn’t afford to live that way again my sophomore  year.

A friend hooked me up with a work-study job driving a “community service van” for Syracuse University. I worked for this organization called the Center for Public and Community Service -- or CPCS for short -- and it was basically this office where mischievous students, who got in trouble for excessive boozing, could perform community service. And it was my job to drive these students around to the various schools and community centers in the city of Syracuse.


 
It was a great job because I got to learn my way around Syracuse,  I only had to work sixteen hours a week, and I took home like 75 bucks –- which was more than enough money to get drunk and eat pizza every weekend. But the best thing about the job was that me and my friends would use the community service van to smuggle marijuana from Canada into the United States.

Every two months we’d steal the van on a Friday afternoon and drive straight through the night until we got to Caribou Creek, a small hippie community outside of Ottawa. The hippies would usually give us thirty pounds of weed per trip. We would drive the weed through a Canadian forest, into Potsdam, NY, and from there we’d go to Utica where the local Armenian drug runners would distribute the weed and give us an ounce for our troubles.

We quit running drugs after we ran over and killed a Canadian Mountie trying to stop us. I remember because it took me three hours to get all his blood and hair off the bumper. And the engine made a funny “ping” sound after that. Anyway, I felt really bad about killing that mountie but the worse thing is we never got weed as good as that Canadian chronic ever again.

In the summer between my junior and senior year of college, I decided I didn’t want to go home to Maine and work the grueling job at the Pepsi plant where I had worked every other summer. Instead I got a job at the Center for Public and Community Service as a tutor for little kids in summer school. I was assisting a first grade teacher named Mrs. Gettle, and her classroom was inclusive which meant they mixed retarded kids with the regular kids. There were also a couple autistic kids but none of them were good at math like Rainman was.

Out of everyone I tutored that summer, two kids stick out in my mind the most. The first is Hank. Hank was this little hunched over retarded kid in a wheelchair who just smiled all the time. He never talked at all. He just smiled. Probably because he was retarded.

One day I was sitting next to Hank as Mrs. Gettle read a story to us. While she was reading, Hank looked up at me and smiled. I smiled back and Hank proceeded to let out the largest fart I have ever heard. I’m serious. It was loud, thunderous, and wet. And I’m sure he squirted some in his shorts, too.

Anyway, I did the only thing I could do – I laughed out loud. I mean, what else are you supposed to do when a retarded kid shits himself? A few minutes later I realized I was the only one laughing. I was the most immature person in a room of first graders.

The other student I remember was this black kid named Adrian. Adrian was a real sweet boy. He wasn’t retarded or anything. He was just a little slow -- but only because his parents never took the time to read him a book. And Adrian was always trying to hug me or sit on my lap. The poor kid was constantly craving affection.  He just wanted someone to love him and he chose me because I was this older, goofy guy who made all the kids laugh. And the worse thing is Adrian's parents never washed him so he always had this strange stench -- somewhere between body odor and death.

This one time Adrian begged and begged me to sit on my lap for story time. I really didn’t want him sitting on my lap because I don’t really like physical contact -- and like I said, he smelled like death -- but I let him have his way because I didn’t want anyone thinking I was racist or anything.

As soon as Adrian sat on my lap he held up his arm with a smile and said, “look Steve! Ringworm!” He then pointed to a red, circular rash.



For those of you who don’t know, Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin in humans and domestic animals such as sheep and cattle. It’s a parasitic infection that feeds on the outer layer of skin, hair, and nails. And it spreads whenever the infected area touches another person.



Remember, I didn't want to seem racist, so I did what anyone else would do in that situation -- I immediately punched Adrian in the face and then threw his limp body across the room. A little excessive? Perhaps. But it worked. The Ringworm never got a chance to infect me.

Looking back, I really miss that summer I spent as a tutor. And I’ll always cherish the special bond I formed with all those little kids, too. Well, everyone except Hank and Adrian -- those guys were actually pretty disgusting. And they both smelled like shit, too.
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