My room for years was in the officially defined, “garden Level” of the building, which more accurately should have been called a termite ridden sub-basement of a dungeon like building built in in 1910. The windows were quite literally at ground level. The asphalt of the school driveway literally running into my window sills. After school my view was of 18 inch bus wheels seen through choking black diesel exhaust, the rest of the day it was the sky.
One winter there was still snow on the ground but it was the afternoon of one of those special late winter days where the sunlight was able to conquer the air temperature and snow and invite reptilian basking behavior in the sweet light breezes of the coming spring. Days like that happen nearly every year but tend to get lost in our memories of weather nightmares. On this day I had all of my windows open and was sitting at my desk correcting papers while the class worked… yes we used to be able to do that.
Without warning a snowball, thrown from a passing car, probably a convertible with its top down and full of at least 8 high school students not wearing seat belts and cradling a bucket of snowballs, came in through the open window (we didn’t have screens back then). The snowball nailed me cleanly in the side of the head totally without warning. It knocked me completely out of my chair and on to the floor.
Back then it wasn’t safe for students to laugh at the misfortunes of teachers so as I sat on the floor surrounded by bits of snow wondering exactly what had happened the class was beset with a restless, terrible, eyes averted, chest heaving, choking silence. I remember saying “Damn” in surprise ( a serious no-no then) as I hit the floor. Collecting myself and trying to figure out exactly what had happened I finally got back up, sat down in my chair,wiped the snow out of my hair ( which I still had at that point) and off the side of my head with my hand and said quietly, ” nice shot.” The class started to laugh and continued until the passing period.
For a while I was their equal again and the feeling was wonderful.