Author – Derek
“Derek”, a boy from a younger class poked his head round the door into the third form’s classroom. “Derek, Mr. Hunter would like to see you”
It was Derek’s first year in this private school. His father had started a new job with a large company, and the company were corporate sponsors of a large private school, so Derek’s tuition had for the school had been a part of the renumeration package. And it was very different from his previous school. In his previous school the boys had worn whatever they wanted, normally wearing jeans and sneakers while this school had uniform black blazers and trousers – basically a suit – with a blue or white shirt and matching tie, with school shoes. Although Derek had found it a bit uncomfortable at first – especially the footwear – he was starting to enjoy walking around like a businessman.
Derek went along to Mr. Hunter’s office. This too was a far cry from his previous school experience. While his previous headmaster was a red faced surly fellow, full of sarcastic insults and rude monikers, Mr. Hunter was a soft spoken fellow.
“Derek,” Mr. Hunter asked “Please bring your sports kit.”
Derek wasn’t sure what was happening, but he went to fetch the kit nonetheless. Did Mr. hunter suspect that he was keeping something wrong in his kit?
He returned to the office, where he was told to put his kit in the corner. “Now bring a chair round here.” Instructed Mr. Hunter.
Derek did as told and sat down next to the headmaster – a far cry from his previous school where the headmaster had always screamed at them from over the desk.
Mr. Hunter opened a ledger, where he showed Derek the black marks against him, patiently telling showing him which teachers’ homework he had missed, when he had come late etc… Derek nodded. He knew the rules. Eight black marks and he would be given rubbish duty.
But he was surprised at what was coming. Mr. Hunter opened another ledger, pointed to a line and told Derek to read it out loud.
Derek read. “If a pupil is assigned rubbish duty a third time in one term, he shall do it without footwear. His footwear will be returned to him at the end of the following school day.” Derek felt his face go white. In his previous school he had lost his sneakers a couple of times, but for relatively short amounts of time. Now he was talking about a whole day, plus cleaning up the schoolyard.
Mr. Hunter asked Derek to lift his feet. To his amazement Mr. hunter undid his laces and then put Derek’s black socked feet on his lap. Derek felt himself grow hot and cold as the headmaster did this.
“I’m sure you understand that I would prefer not to have to do this” Mr. hunter said. “it is probably more difficult for me than it is for you” Derek doubted it but he was grateful for the sympathy. Then Mr. Hunter continued “thankfully it is already December so I assume this will be the only time I have to do it this term.” Derek blushed, realizing that the headmaster had politely told him that he was the only pupil to have received twenty four black marks since September.
Derek returned to the classroom shoeless. The corridors were tiled and were cold, if not uncomfortable. The classroom was carpeted with carpet tile, which were abrasive rather than comfortable, but above all Derek felt he would die from humiliation.
It was almost the end of the schoolday and after a short while the bell rang. Derek remained seated for a few minutes, hoping that less people would notice his socks. After a few minutes when he felt confident that there would be less pupils in the corridors, he rose and went to the janitor’s room.
The janitor, a jolly fellow known as Mike was expecting him. “Ooh, we’re in socks today,” he said playfully pressing his heavy boots onto Derek’s toes. “Such fun” He handed Derek a broom and followed him to the classroom.
Derek knew the procedure. First he lifted all the chairs onto the desk then he swept the floor, and then vacuumed. Then he swept the corridors, leaving them for Mike to mop. Finally time to do the schoolyard. With little choice he walked out onto the gravel, feeling every pebble through his black socks. Wearing gloves he collected all the wrappers and put them into garbage bags, then he fetched the raked and gathered the leaves. Finally finished he returned to Mike.
He then left the school grounds and walked to the nearby tube station, where he had to travel a couple of stops to get home. He felt embarrassed of the passengers, although there were only a few, and incongruous in his expensive suit without shoes. He alighted the train at his stop, secretly praying that he wouldn’t meet any boys from his previous school. They had anyway started acting a bit like bullies, and mike was scared of what might happe if they would meet him without shoes. Thankfully he met no one.
He wandered into his home, acting innocent. Thankfully his father wasn’t around, and his mother was in the kitchen, and she didn’t notice him until he came in to the kitchen, so she was sure that he had simply taken his shoes off when he came in.
His mother told him that she was going to visit an aunt of hers, but Derek excused himself as having too much homework. Since homework was very important to his mother – especially due to the massive gap between his previous school and his present one, – she didn’t press the issue, and Derek remained home by himself.
The following morning he made sure to arrive early in school, reckoning that that way he could get to his desk without anyone noticing his socks. He survived the first two periods and recess, and a short while into the third period he received a message to go to Mr. Hunter’s office again. He felt his heart thumping, although he knew that he had done nothing wrong since yesterday.
He came to the office where he found Mr. Hunter in his normal soft spoken mood. After telling Derek to bring a chiar round next to him, he said “Mike said that you did a mighty good job yesterday.” He asked for his feet. “I hope you feet survived their ordeal.” He said, before reaching for Derek’s shoes and putting them on. He told Derek to tie his laces, and then commented “Nice pair of shoes you have there.” He paused a minute and then added, “you are such a good boy, it’s a pity such things have to happen.” For everyone’s sake try to keep out of trouble.”
Derek’s shoes: https://www.clarks.co.uk/c/Tilden-Walk/p/26110310