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Being Polite Will Only Go So Far

A few weeks ago I got a call in the afternoon from my wife. She was enraged. The fact that she was upset wasn't too much of a surprise. As I scrambled to figure out what I did she told me it was our son. Again, I wasn't too surprised. It was the why that made all the difference in the world.

He got picked up for truancy...

Father & Son, Homer & Bart Simpson

Before I reacted, I instinctively knew something was off. My son is many things, ridiculous being at the top of the list. This is the boy who came home wearing no shoes because I told him to leave his running sneakers in his locker. This is the boy who is almost hard to look at he's so handsome and suave and yet will trip up an entire flight of stairs on the very first step --- all the time.

"What happened?" I asked calmly.

Turns out he was picked up during his lunch period one block from the school walking back to it with a mouth full of food. He was carrying a bag full of food which he bought down the block at one of the many fine eateries that surrounded his high school.

Sounded pretty normal to me. Back when I was in high school people ate off the yard all the time.

Or did they?

Or did they do so legally is probably the better question. I did got to a Catholic high school.

Or did they do so after school?

I can't remember...

Who knew public school had closed yards? But down here in the ATL with child sex abuse being what it is and as of recent developments clearly not local to just Atlanta, my assumption was wrong. Now my natural thought, not in defense of my son at all, was if the truant officer saw that he was on his way back to school why give him a hard time? But I already knew the answer to my question.

That's what they are employed to do.

When my wife came home with my son he explained rather matter of factly what happened and was sure to explain he remained poised and polite, despite the blatant rudeness of the officer which I can wholeheartedly believe. His politeness and her rudeness. He also told me he didn't know that was a rule to which I got ready to ask: "Well didn't you read the student handbook?" Then I remembered I only started reading them once I became a parent.

A week later at the in-school hearing I sat slumped over a long conference table with my wife across from me. My son sat beside me and the school disciplinarian addressed all on high from his seat at the head. I would've rather been anywhere than there as I presumed this administrator was getting ready to beat on his chest and tell us how evil our son is without actually knowing him.

Turns out I was wrong. He knows my son very well and had glowing remarks for him. He told us he's not a young man who is on his radar nor does he expect him to ever be. He explained the ins and outs of the truancy laws down here in the good ol' ATL. Afterwards I asked if my son could be charged with stupidity rather truancy.

He flatly told me no. So now my son has a record that will forever be lost in a pile of paperwork as long as this single offense remains his only offense. Which it will because I told him it will

Before letting us go and scheduling my son's in-school suspension for his crime of hunger and a discriminating palette the disciplinarian looked my son in the eye and told him he was very glad that he was nothing but polite when the incident occurred. He went on to state he was quite amused when my son told him his reason for leaving school during his lunch break was due to all the tittilating food options surrounding them in a one mile radius. He expressed that it was one of the better and maybe one of the most honest responses he's ever gotten. But he laid down his last point with dire accuracy:
"There are a lot of polite criminals who say, 'yessir' and are nothing but charming. But being polite will only get you but so far when you are wrong."

BAM! Definitely something to think about.

Before leaving to return to his classes, my son had one final question:

"So can we call to have food delivered to the school."

I put my head down. My wife burst into laughter. The disciplinarian looked at me and said, "You see this is why I eat for free everyday. He's not the first to ask and many try."

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