“Raiders of the Lost Trash”
Every year when teachers clean out their classrooms, it’s a bittersweet feeling. The teachers clearing out their rooms and try to get organized, which no doubt always feels good — but think of how they have to deal with the aftermath of the kids in their classroom. A lot of students pass through each classroom every day, and kids can be very messy. Anything from food wrappers to used tissue that misses the trashcan to living animals can be found in a teacher’s room, and there is no way of knowing what’s hiding until a bookcase or that desk in the corner gets moved.
Social Studies teacher Ms. Kaminsky related a story of an old lunchbox in her room that had been there for an uncertain amount of time. She told the Oracle that she had started seeing a lot of fruit flies and gnats in her room and she began to wonder what the deal was. “I thought the whole school was infested, until I found [the source” she said. After a little bit of searching, she found the forgotten box tucked away, full of food, and infested with bugs. As she recounted the story, she was visibly shaken from the experience.
Another teacher with a similar story is English Lit Ms. Pekatos. She told the tale of her time as a summer school teacher when she using a room that had actually been the room of another teacher that had left the school the previous year. As soon as she walked into the room, the smell hit her. Someone had left a lunch box at the end of the school year. “There were fruit flies everywhere,” she said. It was a hot mess that no one should have to deal with. And yet, there are even stranger things…
Mr. Hunt, a science teacher, had a similar experience that was almost extraterrestrial in nature. One day he was just sitting in his classroom, minding his own business, when something caught his attention from the corner of his eye. He looked over and what he saw was truly terrifying: a roach that could fly. The only problem was that it was missing a wing and a leg; possibly, he surmised, from chemicals in the science department that had mutated it. It was still struggling. “I felt so bad,” Hunt said. “I stepped on it and put it out of its misery.” He adds that the cleanup afterwards was not very fun.
Even when teachers insist that food be put away or garbage cans be used, kids get sneaky with their trash. The Oracle staff found in its room a cache of gum wrappers, papers, and candy bar wrappers that had been dropped behind a bookshelf and stuck to the wall. It was like finding a lost trove, and even if it was fruit fly free, it was nothing to treasure.
The moral of the story is, clean up your garbage, and be kind to your classroom. Teachers have to deal with some pretty horrific stuff in your wake, and you wouldn’t want to live in someone else’s mess, would you? The next time a teacher asks you to put food and trash away, think of the forgotten lunchbox or the mutant bugs. Unlike valuable gems and stones, your deposits don’t yield hidden treasure, but the after effects can be as damaging as cursed artifacts, foul-smelling like mummy wrappings, and lingering like dusty air in a forgotten tomb.