In my junior year of school at Floydada High, I took Distributive Education (DECA) classes. Even though I planned on attending college, I needed to earn some money, and these courses allowed me to work for a couple of hours each afternoon. In retrospect I wish I’d gone the purely academic route, but I didn’t have a great deal of career guidance coming my way. In the end it all worked out okay, I suppose.
DECA was interesting, though. We learned a variety of things about working in retail businesses, including how to display goods and market them to the consumer. Our teacher, Mr. S, was rather limited in his understanding of marketing strategies, but that didn’t keep him from trying. I remember one lesson in which we were to come up with an advertising slogan to promote a product.
The only slogan Mr. S could come up with as an example was “Swing into Spring!” Given that we lived in the Texas panhandle this sounded a great deal more like “Swang into Sprang,” and every time he said it I’d dissolve in a fit of giggles.
Mr. S was not amused. In fact, he threatened to send me to the office if I couldn’t stop laughing. Of course that made it worse, and I ended up trying to explain to the principal that I wasn’t being disrespectful to Mr. S. Apparently the principal wasn’t amused either, but rather than calling my parents to report my transgression he allowed me to stay in his office until it was time for me to report to my DECA related job, the better to compose myself before I found myself in the presence of Mr. S again. As punishments went, it was pretty sweet.
Ironically, just a few short days after my trip to the principal’s office I received a note to call my mom during DECA class. We didn’t have cell phones, kiddies. This was back in the dark ages. The only phone available to students was in the main office.
All the way there I imagined I could hear the other shoe dropping. Somehow, I figured Mom had learned of my previous transgression and was going to read me the riot act followed by a few weeks of grounding. I’d had a feeling I’d gotten off too lightly from the start.
Instead Mom had called to tell me that my dad had been offered a job in another town and that we’d be moving before school’s end. I was supposed to begin wrapping things up. Man, how I wished she’d been calling to ground me instead.
I returned to class sobbing. My friends gathered ’round to console me, but I could tell Mr. S was feeling pretty smug–he figured I’d gotten further punishment, as well. He looked a little less smug as my story unfolded, but was probably relieved that I’d be out of his hair.
The joke was on him, though. In the end my folks arranged for me to live with my maternal grandparents to finish out the school year in Floydada. I still wasn’t happy about leaving my friends and the only schools I’d ever attended in my last year, but it was a workable compromise. Plus, I met Studly Doright in the new town, so that was a positive.
And the next time I got the giggles over “Swang into Sprang” again, Mr. S let it go. I guess he figured I’d had punishment enough.