The Little Engine Tag: (That’s right. I’m starting my own tag)

So I did an award post a couple months ago, and a thought occurred to me while filling it out: why can’t I make my own blog tag thingy? For one thing, I’d make sure all the questions are actually fun and thought-provoking, and can’t simply be answered with a boring one or two word answer, which is often the case. Also, I’d get free publicity! And I’d provide all those suffering from writer’s block some much-needed relief.

(I hear writer’s block is at its worst in the spring. Okay so I made that up, but it’s probably true.)

So I went ahead and invented my own blog tag, and here it is.

It’s called the Little Engine tag, because why not? The picture above is to be included in all future responses to this tag, unless the blogger in question simply doesn’t want to include it. In that case I am powerless to stop them.

Naturally, there are some rules to this tag, namely:

  1. Each answer you give to a question has to be more than two sentences long. Or at the very least, you have to make those two sentences meaningful.
  2. There will be two bonus questions at the end, that the blogger gets to change to whatever they want to ask when they nominate someone else. The first six questions, however, are set in stone.
  3. At the end you must nominate three to five other bloggers. Okay, so you don’t have to, but that would be nice if you could. (I want my blog name to spread on for all of eternity.)
  4. You know how sometimes in quiet classrooms, they’ll be that one guy clicking his pen fifty times a second, and it’s annoying as hell to everyone else? Yeah, don’t be that guy. This doesn’t apply to this tag so much, but more to life in general.

Now, onto the questions, which are:

1.) What’s one of your biggest pet peeves?

(This question was designed to let you rant about something people do that bugs you. For example:)

I for one, hate when people call me “buddy.” It just always feels condescending, even when it isn’t mean to be. I also hate people call me “dumbass,” for more obvious reasons.

2) What is your favorite song at the moment?

(I included this question because I want to be exposed to more music.)

One song that’s been consistently in my head for the past six months is Where is my Mind? by the Pixies. I heard it on The Leftovers and I’ve been loving it ever since. It is the perfect song to bob your head to.

3) Who is your favorite blogger?

(Besides me, of course.)

Right now I’d pick The Mostly Confused Teenager, despite the fact that she hasn’t posted for a while. It’s just that many of her posts like “Those Crazy American Commercials” and “Being French,” are hilarious and well-written and I would like to get more of them, please.

4) What’s the nicest thing you’ve seen someone do recently?

(You can also write about something you did, if you want.)

There was a little kid in a wheelchair at McDonald’s the other day who went up to the counter alone and asked for an ice cream cone. The problem was that he couldn’t hold the cone and still steer back to his table at the same time, so my manager went over and helped him out, despite the restaurant being very busy at the time. This surprised me because said manager is usually a very rude, standoffish woman, but apparently she has a soft spot for handicapped little kids. (Then again, who doesn’t?) So this was a nice heartwarming moment in an otherwise terrible day.

5) What’s something you regret doing?

(Note: don’t pick something that you regret not doing, because those are usually more painful than funny.)

I regret buying an HP printer, because those are the worst, because I have never not had a problem with it since the moment I first set it up.

I also regret giving my friend one of my lottery tickets.

6) If you could take only three items with you to a deserted island, what would they be, and why?

I for one would take my High School Musical 2 dvd, because Troy and Gabriella are my OTP. Then I guess I’d take some scissors, in case I need a haircut. Oh, and a pen cap to chew on. 

Pfft, this is so easy.

Now for the bonus questions: (Remember, you can change these to something else if you write your own post.

7) What past fad do you think should make a comeback?

Personally, I hope planking becomes a thing again. I find it hysterical. Remember this, anyone?

8) How would you describe the perfect date?

Mine would be: drive in theater, with the movie being Stephen King’s IT: Part One. Obviously this would never happen, but hey, I could dream.

And now for the nominations. You could nominate anywhere from three to five people, or not at all. But because I’m trying to start a new trend, I’m going to nominating quite a few, and I’ll be calling them out by name.

  • Engie, from Musings from Neville’s Navel. I know you’re busy with college and all, but screw college! This tag is much more important.
  • Liam, from This Page Intentionally Left Blank. I know you’re busy battling pirates and sea monsters right now, but as they say, the pen is mightier than the sword. Likewise, this tag is mightier than anything you could possibly be doing, so drop everything and get on it.
  • Susannah from Susannah Contra Mundum, because of your Lilo and Stitch GIFs.
  • Gwendolyn, from Apprentice, Never Master, because you didn’t actually think you’d be able to get out of this post unscathed, did you?
  • Shanti, from Virtually Read. I know you just did an award post, but technically this isn’t an award post. It’s an inconvenience more than anything else. 
  • Katie, from Spiral Bound. You are my mortal enemy, and hopefully you’ll expose a weakness by answering my questions. 
  • Confused Teen from The Mostly Confused Teenager, because the blogosphere needs you back. 
  • Kedslover from Alternative Sunny Days, because you are chiller than an ice cream cone.
  • Derek, from The Edwards Edition. Where you been, man? And don’t use life as an excuse, because I already called dibs on that one.
  • Literary and Lovely, from Literary and Lovely. I approve of your use of calculators.
  • Evi, at Adventures Through Pages. This is punishment for posting almost as inconsistently as me.
  • Aspen at AKA The Author. I read you were sick with laryngitis, so I decided to make life worse for you by pressuring you into this. 
  • Elm from Just Call me Elm or Something. If you were an actual elm tree, I probably wouldn’t chop you down unless absolutely necessary. 

Well, that’s ten people. Hopefully enough to spread this tag across the universe. I probably forgot someone really important to nominate, so if you’re one of those people I missed, I’m very sorry, and feel free to do this tag anyway, because you deserve it.

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In Which I Complain About Literally Everything

This picture makes me green with envy

I hate the fact that, according to the new Oxford dictionary, the title above makes grammatical sense. Just because a bunch of idiots misused the word literally, doesn’t mean you have to change the definition of the word just to suit them. That’s like legalizing methamphetamine just because some people really, really like the drug. It simply ain’t right.

(And yes, using the word literally to describe something figurative is just as bad as doing meth. You all need help.)

Why do spiders build webs in places where they are bound to come into contact with humans? My family and I went away for a two days last summer and when we came back, there was a giant web right on the staircase of my front porch, with a big ol’ scary spider just chilling right on it. And I’m like, come on, Mr. Spider. Why would you pick this place to build your home when you know we’ll have to cross through it multiple times on a daily basis? You didn’t actually think this would work out well for you, did you?

I hate when I see a Top Ten List of something, and then I click on it to find just a list of those things with no explanation. For example, there’ll be a post like “My Top Ten Favorite Books,” and they’ll just be a list of titles that mean nothing to me. “Really?” I find myself thinking to the author of said post. “You’re not going to add at least a sentence or two to let us know why you liked this book so much?”

In other news, these colleges really need to hurry up. I’ve heard back from one of them already, (thanks, Oswego!) but all the other ones are taking their sweet ass time getting back, and the stress is literally killing me.

(God I hate myself.)

I hate how the biggest winter storm in years took place last Saturday, and it completely missed my house, probably just to spite me. I live about an hour’s drive from New York City, and New York City got record amounts of snow. So much snow, in fact, that this happened:

How much snow did I get? Less than an inch. And you can’t snowboard on a street with less than an inch of snow. You can’t even have a snowball fight without mixing some rocks into it. This leads me to wonder: did I piss off the Snow Gods or something? I’d love to know what I’ve done wrong to deserve this. 

Speaking of snow . . .

Whenever I go to the dentist, I end up waiting in the lobby for over an hour, and the only thing on the TV is either Judge Judy or Dr. Phil, and I’ve come to the conclusion that they are the two most unlikable people on the face of the earth. They’ve done more to make me care about my dental hygiene than the actual process of getting a root canal itself. If I could go the rest of my life without ever having to watch their shows again, I would die a happy man.

I’m serious here. Just the very existence of both those people makes my blood boil. WHY DO THEY HAVE FANS? I’ll never know.

How come I don’t get nominated for blog awards anymore? I know I made it clear that I didn’t want to do them, but I didn’t actually think you people would listen. 

I hate that I have no one but myself to blame for that last complaint.

I hate touching cloth and furniture after cutting my nails. 

I’m still upset that the woolly mammoths have gone extinct, because how cool would it be to have them around today? Thanks a lot, cavemen. 

I hate ending a post on an abrupt note.

Some Blogging Advice for All You Noobs Out There

This picture has literally nothing to do with the actual content of this post.

I apologize for using the word “noob.”

I also apologize for claiming to have read To Say Nothing of the Dog, in a post back in 2013. I have no idea why I ever claimed such a thing, but apparently I did. I even said, and I quote: “It’s almost impossible to summarize, so I will tell you this: the book’s great, the characters are unforgettable, and you will drop your jaw at least once.”

I was reading the post earlier today and I just shook my head and thought, “Why would I write this about a book I’ve never even heard of before? Was I a compulsive liar back then? Am I still a compulsive liar? Are there random chunks of my memory that have, for some reason, been taken out of my mind forever?” 

In other news, the daily prompt for today, as it turns out, is another winner of a prompt:

Key Takeaway

Give your newer sisters and brothers-in-WordPress one piece of advice based on your experiences blogging.

Now, there are many pieces of advice I’ve given over the years. Don’t censor yourself. Don’t listen to those obvious self-promoters. But the key thing I’ve taken away from the past year or so is to post consistently. 

There’s no need to post every day of course, but I think at least twice a week should be good. You could write less than that, but it probably won’t work out too well for you. 

“But Matt,” you say. “I only post twice a month, and I get lots of views and comments!”

Well congratulations, random hypothetical person who pops up in so many of my posts, you are an amazingly talented blogger. But keep in mind that you are the exception, not the rule. 

You can get away with going through a period or two of no posting. I didn’t post a whole lot throughout the summer of 2013, but then I came back with a bang soon afterwards and BAM! Gained a thousand followers in one month. (Half of these followers presumably scroll right past my post whenever they see it, judging from my stats page. Another quarter of them are spam bots.) 

But as I’ve learned, inconsistent posting is always accompanied by apologies and promises that you probably won’t be able to keep. And when you continue to go on long periods of absences, you start to lose the trust and patience of your readers, which as it turns out, are two things that are very hard to get back. 

So, uh, yeah. A lot of you newbies are probably posting pretty consistently right now, because you’ve just started the blog and you’re all excited over it. My advice is to keep it up. Just keep on posting, and if you do have to go on a hiatus, make sure to let your readers know ahead of time, so you don’t feel guilty about it. 

Also, remember to be the leaf. 

 

In Which I Spend New Year’s Eve Completely Alone

Frank Sinatra has very little to do with the content of this post.

New Year’s Eve is probably my least favorite of the holidays, if only because of how ridiculously anti-climactic it is. Even more so if you’re one of those idiots who wait outside Times Square for six hours just to watch the ball drop:

“. . . Four! Three! Two! One!!!” *thirty seconds of celebration* “Well, that’s pretty much it. Time to go home, kids.”

That being said, I’ve always done something for New Year’s Eve. My past memories of the holiday are filled with balloons, hats, and glasses designed as the subsequent year. (Those unfortunately went out of style once 2010 hit.)  Every year I’ve been doing something fun, something at least slightly memorable, but this year I started off 2016 in what most sitcoms would agree is the saddest way possible: alone.

This wasn’t due to a lack of options, however. I actually had two of them available: 1) spend the night at my aunt and uncle’s house, or 2) go to one of my friend’s house instead.

Pros and Cons of Option 1:

Pro: There will probably be m&m’s available.

Pro: My family will be there, and family is important, I’m always being told. Something about blood being thicker than water, or something.

Con: It’s undoubtedly going to very boring.

Con: No beer, either.

Con: I’d be the only teenager there, and I can already hear the judgement from my cool uncle. “So, you don’t have any friends, huh?” he’d say to me. And I’d be like, “No, I have plenty of friends, I just didn’t want to hang out with them right now,” and he’d be all, “Yeah, Matt, I’m sure that’s the case.” He’d pat me on the head. “I’m sure you’re the most popular kid in school.”

Pros and Cons of Option 2:

Pro: Beer.

Pro: Most of the people there are slightly more interesting than my actual family members.

Pro: The host has Super Mario Kart, and if I’m slick enough, I might be able to pull the ol’ snagaroony if I get the chance.

Con: There will be at least one person at the party who I simply do not like. That’s kind it.

___

So I was contemplating these two alternatives, and suddenly an idea hit me. What if — and I know this is going to sound crazy, but — what if I don’t go to either one? What if I spend New Year’s Eve alone? I could actually get some homework done for once, work on that novel I was supposed to finish, like three years ago. I could even watch TV that wasn’t the countdown to the ball drop in Times Square! It was such a strange experience, considering this possibility, almost like I was seeing colors I’ve never seen before.

(Was that a clichéd comparison? I feel like it was. The point is, I am a genius for figuring this all out.)

I doubt my parents would be willing to leave me home alone for New Year’s Eve, (My older brother was left at home once, ended up throwing a party and therefore ruining everything for everyone.) so I told them I was going to Option 2. I left the house just before they did and instead of going to said party, I went to a nearby gas station.

I walked into the gas station and bought some vitamin water and some candy, and the cashier asked me if I wanted to buy a membership card. I politely declined, and asked him if I could buy some blueberry-flavored wraps. He impolitely declined, and told me to get out of his store.

I drove around for a bit, just to be safe, and then went back home and sat down in the living room. I had the TV playing at a low temperature while I basically just typed away into the laptop for two hours, taking short breaks to eat candy and drink vitamin water.

Also, I discovered some shrimp in the freezer, and promptly went about devouring it all.

It was awesome.

I think the moral of this story, if you could call it a story, is that there’s no shame in spending the holidays, alone. It’s actually much more fun than spending it with people. But if you do end up spending them alone, feel free to use this fact to provoke pity in other people. Hopefully they’ll give you food, thinking that it’ll make you feel better.

So, how did you (yes, you) spend New Year’s Eve? More importantly, how do you whistle? Because I cannot for the life of me figure out how to whistle.

And now to end this post with a literal bang:

In which I share with you the funniest joke of all time

There’s this site called “Anti-Joke,” that a few years ago I used to read. As said in the website, Anti Jokes (or Anti Humor) is a type of joke that’s set up in a traditional joke format. But it ends with such an anticlimax that it becomes funny in its own right. “The lack of punchline is the punchline.”

This site perfectly encapsulated my sense of humor at the time. I looked back at them today, and while some of them aren’t nearly as funny as I remember, there are a few that I still find hilarious. 

What did Batman say to Robin before they got in the car?

“Get in the car.”

Or:

A dog walks into a bar, and is promptly escorted out, as animals are not allowed inside.

“Matt,” you be saying. “These jokes are stupid. They have no punchline.”

I’d have to agree with you there, but that’s what makes it funny. The way it plays with your expectations is pretty much unheard of.

So here is the joke that, many years after I first read it, I still find it hilarious. I crack up during random, unrelated moments due to thinking about it. This joke keeps me up at night sometimes, making me laugh. I’ve told it to many people, and they always react in either two ways:

  1. They find it to be stupidest, most unfunny joke they’ve ever heard, and they hate me for wasting their time. Or,
  2. They find it just as funny as I do.

Hopefully you’ll fall in the second group, but if you don’t, I won’t blame you. Here it goes:

___________________

A man walks into a bar and pauses: at the other end of the bar, there’s this guy with a big orange head. Just kind of sitting there, mooning into his drink. So the man asks the bartender, “Say, what’s up with the guy with the big orange head?” And the bartender says, “It’s an interesting story. Buy him a drink and maybe he’ll tell it to you.”

So the man walks over and introduces himself and offers to buy a round. The guy with the big orange head says, “Yeah, I’ll bet you want to know the story, huh?” To which the man replies, “Sure, if you don’t mind.”

The man with the big orange head sighs and says, “You know, I’ve gone over it in my mind a million times. Basically, it’s like this: I was walking along the beach one day, when I stubbed my toe on something. I looked down, and there was an antique brass lamp. I picked it up and dusted it off a little — when all of a sudden this enormous genie pops out!

“The genie thundered, ‘You have released me from my ten-thousand year imprisonment, and I am in your debt. I will grant you three wishes as a token of my gratitude.'”

The man at the bar is agape. The guy with the big orange head continues: “So I said, ‘Wow, okay. Well, my first wish is to be fantastically wealthy.’

“The genie says, ‘Your wish is granted.’ And all of a sudden I have rings on my fingers and a crown on my head, and my wallet is full of money and a dozen ATM cards and the deed to a mansion in the hills — I mean, I was loaded!

“So I said, ‘Amazing! Okay, for my next wish , I want to be married to the most beautiful woman in the world.’

“The genie says, ‘Your wish is granted.’ And the ocean parts, and out walks this gorgeous woman in this beautiful dress, and she takes my hand and we fall in love and the genie marries us right there. It was incredible.

“The genie booms, ‘You have one wish remaining.'”

The man with the big orange head pauses and sips his beer. He says, “Now, you know, this may be where I went wrong. I wished for a big orange head.”

The Worst Types of People Who Go Through the McDonalds’ Drive Thru

Mcdonald’s breakfast is amazing, and I’m not even being paid to say that.

As my long term followers will know, I work at McDonalds. What they don’t know is that for the past four months or so, I’ve been working almost exclusively at the drive-thru, to the point where I almost miss the front counter.

Almost.

That being said, there are all types of people that come through the drive-thru, and some of them are pretty chill. The ice cream man went through it once (I bought a snow-cone from him, and my manager yelled at me afterwards for holding up the line), and this one lady threw a bunch of condoms at me. (“You’ll need them more than I,” she said, and I swear I’m not making this up.) 

But others are either a) terrible excuses for human beings, or b) just really annoying. And today I’m going to cover ten of those types of people who really grind my gears, starting with:

1: The people who hand you crumpled up money. 

I don’t know about you guys, but when I hand people money, I make sure said money is straightened out, for convenience’s sake if nothing else. I used to hand them crumpled up one dollar bills, but then my fifth birthday came up and I was simply getting too old for that sort of shit. 

Some people haven’t figured that out quite yet, and proceed to hand me a sweaty ball of crumpled up money, and it’s both disgusting and a hassle to count, especially when it’s busy. 

2) Customers who don’t speak to you unless absolutely necessary. 

Ugh, these people. When they pull up to the first window, I’ll usually greet them with a “hi, how’s it going?” and these people will just ignore me. They’ll simply hold their credit card/money out the window without even acknowledging my presence. 

“Ugh, how dare you speak to me?” their attitude suggests. “You are but a lowly fast-food worker, unworthy of my attention.”

3) People who start screaming when you ask them to speak clearly into the microphone. 

These people will say something that I couldn’t quite understand, so I’ll politely ask them to repeat it. They’ll then respond by SCREAMING IT AS LOUDLY AS THEY CAN. Surprisingly, this doesn’t help much. 

I think these people have an issue similar to the whole “Internet Tough Guy,” meme. They are so much more rude and obnoxious than they’d ever be if they were talking to me face to face. I know this because the people who scream and give me attitude through the speaker are usually so quiet and well-behaved when they get to window. 

4) When people ask for “a happy meal,” and leave it at that.

There are multiple different types of happy meals, and they all come with a selection of apple slices/gogurt, a choice of a drink and a choice of a toy. So when this happens, it could really slow things down, especially with the more grouchy customers.

Here’s some of the orders

  • I’d like a happy meal.
    • What type of happy meal would you like?
  • A. Happy. Meal.
    • *quiet sigh* The happy meal comes with a choice of [lists choices]
  • Oh, I’ll have to mcnuggets.
    • Is that the six piece or the four piece?
  • *long pause*
  • The four piece.
    • “Okay, would you like apple slices or gogurt with that?
  • Uh, just fries please.
    • It comes with fries automatically, but it also comes with a choice or apple slices or gogurt.
  • “Apple slices or what?”
    • Gogurt.
  • “What?”
    • “It’s yogurt.”
  • Oh. I’ll have the apple slices.
    • Okay, and what would you like to drink with that?
  • It comes with a drink?
    • Yes.

That’s over a hundred words, and I haven’t even gotten to the toy selection. This gets particularly annoying during lunch, when every other person is getting a happy meal for their kids.

That being said, the best types of customers are the ones who answer all those questions for you. If you come through the drive thru and say, “can I have a four piece happy meal with apple slices, an apple juice, barbecue sauce and the [name of current toy]?” I will forever be grateful for your cooperation.

5) Parents who smoke with their children in the car.

It’s just like, come on, man. Giving your kids long-term health problems before they’re old enough to even know what a long-term health problem is? That’s fucked up.

I give these people an incredibly judging stare as I hand them the food/money.

6) People who complain to me about the prices.

If you’re upset about the prices, don’t complain to the cashier person, because there’s literally nothing s/he could do about it.

7) People who make obnoxious comments criticizing the drive-thru.

“Did you guys confuse the drive-thru for a sleepover?” one guy said to me the other day, when the drive-thru was going admittedly slower than we would’ve liked. Even if the drive-thru was going slow, this still strikes me a ridiculously weird thing to say.

“I’m sorry,” I said to him, “Did you confuse me for someone who gives a shit?”

Of course I didn’t actually say that, but I will forever wonder what would’ve happened if I did. I’d probably get fired, or something.

8) When people drive trucks with obnoxiously loud engines.

If your truck’s diesel engine is so loud that I can’t hear someone else’s order, that’s a good sign that you should never go through the drive-thru, ever. Go inside, you’d make everyone’s life a little easier.

9) Obnoxious teenagers.

Every once in a while a car will order something, only to drive off instead of paying. These cars are almost always filled with dumbass teens, and you could tell what they’re about to do because they’re giggling like idiots and they will talk to each other about what they’re about to do despite the fact everyone with a headset could hear the entire conversation. 

I like to imagine their conversations as they drive away:

“Yo, sick prank, bro!”

“Thanks, bro, we totally got them! We’re so hilarious and original.”

“Everyone loves us, bro.”

“Totally, bro. We rock!” 

*they then proceed to drive away, blasting terrible music with their windows down for all to hear*

10) People who are completely oblivious to the line of cars behind them. 

The other day there was a good twelve cars in line, and they had to wait for this one woman to order.

  • “Hmm, what type of salads do you have?”
    • “We’ve got the bacon ranch salad, the southwest salad, and the side salad.”
  • “What’s in the bacon ranch salad?”
    • *reads the entire list of ingredients for the salad.* 
  • Oh. What’s in the southwest salad?”
    • *reads entire list of ingredients for that salad as well.*
  • “Oh, well, how do they both taste?”

This goes on for a while, and it leaves me with a nice closing statement. A public service announcement, if you will, for everyone who goes through the drive-thru of any fast food establishment:

If you don’t know what you want, and you have the option of going inside, go inside. Please, just go inside. This way you could look at the menu and decide what you want without blocking other people from ordering, and slowing everything down.

 Also, if you’re just getting something like a soda, or a sweet tea, you could get it in the lobby much, much faster than if you were waiting in the drive-thru. 

I’m just saying.

Make my life a tiny bit easier, please?

Tragic Stories From My Childhood: The Time I Got My Card Flipped

Credit goes to http://www.upperelementarysnapshots.com/

I’m starting a new series of posts, ones that will probably be posted every once in awhile until they eventually peter out of existence, and it’s all about the things that happened during the last seventeen years of my life, told from my point of view.

I should warn you though, that some of these stories may be exaggerated or distorted. Memories aren’t perfect, after all. But I will try my best to keep things as accurate as possible. 

My first story will bring us back to when I was a wee little child, attending the second grade of my adorable little elementary school. My second grade teacher was Mrs. Rippa, (I hope you’re reading this, Mrs. R.,) who I remember hating her very much, mostly because she made me cry a lot.

To be fair, it didn’t take much to make seven year old me cry, because I was one miserable piece of shit back then. If you were to compare me to any Rugrats characters, I would’ve been Chuckie, no doubt. I was always worrying about things and thinking they were so much more important than they actually were.

To be fair to my former self though, kindergarten me was a total thug. Back then I was kicking ass and taking names, shoving weaker kids into the dirt and flirting with the first grade honeys. Something terrible must’ve happened between kindergarten and second grade, because by the time I was learning how to multiply single digits, I’d become a total wuss. 

Back in elementary school the teachers had a very unique method of discipline: the card system. There’d be a pocket chart thingy on the wall, and everyone would have their own little envelope-thingy (I’m not too sure on the actual names of these things, as I’m sure you can tell). If a student was acting out in class, they’d be told to flip their cards.

The cards went like this:

Blue: The best card. It shows that you have yet to do anything wrong and that you’re one well-behaved kid. Your parents must be so proud.

Green: A warning. Not the worst thing in the world. Just, y’know, don’t do it again. 

Yellow: 5 minutes off recess for you, you good-for-nothing nobody.

Red: No recess at all for you, and you go straight to the principal’s office. I’m not sure what’s in the principal’s office, but I assume there’s forced cannibalism involved, because every student was terrified of going there. 

So one day I was chilling in class, doing one of those stupid activities second graders do, like cutting snowflakes or some shit. Not really important. Anywho, I was getting into a real deep conversation with the girl next to me, Dominique. We were talking about how cracking your knuckles would cause arthritis, which was something my aunt had told me the day before.

(You’re gonna love my aunt, by the way. What she said was this: “You know, Matt, if you keep cracking your knuckles you’re gonna lose the ability to bend your fingers. And you’re going to go through your whole life with incredible pain.” She then proceeded to give many examples of things I would not be able to do because of said permanently-straightened fingers, like driving or typing or holding onto things. She told me I could no longer read books because I would be unable to turn the pages, which seems like an needlessly cruel thing to say to a seven year old bookworm.)

Our conversation was suddenly interrupted by a cold, harsh voice that cut across the classroom. “Matthew, flip your card. No more talking.”

I didn’t think it was possible to go from happy to shocked and upset so quickly. If I had to compare it to any moment, it would be that scene from Mockingjay when (scroll over to read) Katniss sees Peeta for the first time. At first she’s thinking, “Hells yeah, I’m reunited with ma boi Peeta Mellark, best baker since Rachel Ray,” and then as Peeta strangles her to death she’s all, “Hot damn! This ain’t even close to how I expected this to play out.”

But as a student I was nothing if not dutiful, so I proceeded to walk all the way across the room, head bowed in shame, to flip my card for the first time ever. 

As I made the walk, I felt all the eyes of the class on me. Some people laughed. Others made that obnoxious “Ooooohhh” sound that kids love to make. I, meanwhile, was trying very hard not to cry, a process which would pretty much always fail. I’d feel the tears swell up and I’d think, “goddamnit, eyes, this isn’t even that big of a deal. You better not start shedding tears over this.”

Then my eyes would be all like: “Nope! It’s tear city for you. Have fun looking like a total wuss in front of everyone, crybaby.”

And I’d be like: “Come on, eyes, don’t do this to me.”

And my eyes would just start leaking an obnoxious amount of tears out into the world, further ruining my reputation as a hardcore thug.

I haven’t even mentioned the worst part yet: later that day there’d be an Open House for the school, in which the parents would visit the school and be in the classrooms and whatnot. Mrs. Rippa had kindly informed us that if anyone had their cards flipped, those cards would stay flipped until the following morning, so any parents attending Open House would get to see what a failure their child was.

So as you can guess, it was in my best interest to get my card back to its original blue before the day ended. But this was harder than it seemed. 

My options, as far as I could see it:

1) Sneak over and unflip my card.

2) Hold the class hostage until Mrs. Rippa agrees to unflip my card, and also to make me the line leader for at least a week. (Because if you have the chance to demand line-leading privileges, you take it.)

3) Run away and never come back.

But I knew none of these ideas would work. #1 might have, but I knew if I was caught I’d likely get a yellow—possibly even red— card, and I couldn’t risk that. So I went with secret option number four: I decided to beg.

I know, I’m not proud of the fact. Later that day I went up to Mrs. Rippa and tried to persuade her to unflip my card. I tried denying the fact that I had talked at all, and when that didn’t work I tried apologizing and then I’d never doing it again. When that didn’t work I decided to blame it all on Dominique, but alas, it was to no avail. 

It may seem like a scumbag move to try and wrap Dominique into this, but hey, I might as well have had a gun pointed my head, I was so desperate. Besides, Dominique would later do some terrible things to me, so I don’t feel too bad, looking back. Also, I’d like to remind everyone that I was only seven at the time, so y’know, don’t judge.

Anywho, I spent the rest of the day in a bad mood, despite various attempts by other people to cheer me up. When I went home I confessed to my parents, breaking into tears and whatnot, and they weren’t actually upset at all. Presumably because, well, it’s just a stupid card.

But it wasn’t stupid. That card flipping system was an ingenious system of discipline through the use of public shaming. I applaud the people who invented it, while also hating them for all the misery they’ve caused. 

So how about you, readers? What punishment did your elementary school teachers use? Especially if you went to Catholic school, let me know. Because I know many adults who went to Catholic schools, and the stories they have are just horrifying, especially when compared to the wimpy card-flipping system some schools like mine had. 

I don’t know about you guys, but I for one will always be afraid of nuns.