by Lyle R. Hill  
Career Day  
paused for a few seconds after about six rows across, and each what was going on in the world  
walking through the main row was about five desks deep. But around us, allowing our lives to  
entrance vestibule doors as the desks were gone, and now each be lived more enjoyably and com-  
memories engulfed me. Memories classroom had tables randomly fortably. I used pictures, charts  
of a time long ago when life, my life spread throughout the room. This and samples for my presentation.  
at least, was much simpler.  
arrangement meant that some of They listened in silence … almost  
The shiny tile floor, the smell of the kids didn’t face the front of the motionless. I didn’t see how it  
chalk dust, and the clanging locker classroom. Instead, they faced each could have gone any better!  
doors as children make their way other, across these somewhat small  
She then explained that the chil-  
to their classes. And then, just as I tables. So when a teacher was speak- dren would now be allowed to ask  
became totally lost in the moment, ing to the class, some of the kids questions and that I should not feel  
the big bell on the hallway wall would have to turn in their chairs to hurried with my answers.  
rang loudly and sent teachers and face the teacher. This seemed very  
She further explained that they  
students alike to their respective awkward to me. I would later be told were a progressive class and that  
classrooms. Everything was just as that this has been the style in most the children would not have to  
I had remembered it!  
school districts for several years, raise their hands before asking a  
Who could have possibly although I must confess, this makes question. They were only required  
guessed that one day I would be little sense to me.  
to not all speak at once and to be  
Irving Elementary has, to say respectful of each other.  
Confident that my presentation  
invited back to speak at Irving  
Elementary … the school where I the least, a storied history. At least  
had spent six happy years of my a half dozen NBA stars played in had been both informative and  
childhood? its little postage stamp of a gym. interesting, I was more than ready  
My mother and father hadn’t Black Panther leader Fred Hampton to respond to what I was sure  
received a great deal of formal went to school here. Through the would be intelligent and insightful  
education. But that didn’t keep years, the school has done its best questions. Mrs. Darby then made  
them from placing a high degree to educate future politicians, busi- her way to a chair next to the win-  
of importance on it. In fact, my ness leaders, tradesmen, educators dows and nodded to the class that  
mother had very much wanted me and even a few gangsters. And I it was OK to begin.  
to be a teacher. When I enrolled had loved this old school dearly.  
“Sir,” began the first child to  
for college, I had listed my major So when I received a call from Mrs. speak up, “your job sounds kinda  
as elementary education. My plan Darby, the senior of the school’s boring. Do you actually like it?”  
was to one day return to Irving two seventh-grade teachers, inviting  
“Yes I do ... most of the time any-  
Elementary to teach seventh-grade me to be the guest speaker for their way, and some days it’s even fun,”  
social studies and math while annual career day, I accepted. After I responded.  
coaching the school baseball team all, I had always believed that I was a  
to the championships. teacher at heart and that, had it not redheaded boy from the back of  
To my pleasant surprise, the old been for a twist of fate, it could have the room.  
“Are you in a union?” asked a  
school really did look just the way been me making a call to line up a  
I remembered it. In all these years, career-day speaker for my students.  
“No,” I replied, “I’m not.”  
“Because my dad says,” the red-  
I thought, absolutely nothing has  
Mrs. Darby presented me to her head went on, “you gotta be stupid  
class and, for 20 minutes or so, I to have a job and not belong to the  
The one exception to this was explained the roll that glass played union, cause if you’re in the union  
the lack of desks in the classrooms. in the lives of all of us. How glass you always make more money but  
In my day, we sat in neat, orderly kept us safe, helped keep us warm  
rows of desks. There were usually while giving us a chance to see  
continued on page 12  
WindoW Film  
you don’t have to work very hard.”  
From a little girl with a bright  
green sweater, “Do you have a  
No, I don’t have a puppy.”  
Cause Mr. Johnson, who came  
and spoke to us last year, has a lot  
of puppies. He owns a pet store  
and he even brought two puppies  
when he spoke to us.”  
That’s nice,” I replied and then, kid. “He was a very nice man.”  
want to grow up to be?”  
trying to move the questioning in a I took another quick glance  
I looked up at the ceiling for a  
different direction, added, “and I’m toward teacher Darby but neither second or two as if pondering the  
sure that Mr. Johnson’s pet store she nor the squirrel had moved. seriousness of the question. Then,  
has a nice big glass window in front “Hey,” a kid who looked like he making eye contact with as many  
so we can all see the nice little pup- might be carrying a gun yelled out, of the 27 children in the room as  
pies. Does anyone want to know “do you make a lot of money in that possible, I answered.  
what kind of glass is probably in glass business of yours?”  
Mr. Johnson’s window?” “He can’t be making a lot of would have liked to have grown up  
Did you bring a treat for us, Mr. money,” snorted the redhead, and owned a pet store.”  
“That’s an easy one, Mrs. Darby. I  
Hill?” asked a girl with a missing “cause he’s not in a union.”  
“Really, Mr. Hill?”  
front tooth.  
Ignoring the redhead and look-  
“Yes indeed. With lots of puppies  
No, I didn’t bring a treat. I ing directly at the future felon who and kittens and, naturally, it would  
didn’t know that I was supposed I had no doubt was both armed have been a union pet store. And,  
to,” I replied, starting to feel a bit and dangerous, I replied, “I don’t by the way, Mrs. Darby, I was in  
make a lot of money, but I make such a hurry to get here today that  
Do you have a cat?” asked a boy enough to get by, and I think as I forgot to bring the treats that I  
sitting very close to me.  
you get a little older, you’ll come to had planned to pass out, so I’d like  
No, I’m sorry; I don’t have a cat realize that finding a job you like is to give you $20 to buy some treats  
more important than money.”  
for the class.”  
Don’t you like pets?” the same  
As children started falling out  
She took the bill that I had tried  
kid continued.  
of their chairs with laughter, the to gracefully remove from my wallet,  
He’s not in a union either,” the future felon picked up a text book smiled a wicked little smile and said,  
redhead chimed in before I could and threw it at the redhead.  
“You know, Mr. Hill, $20 won’t go  
attempt to answer.  
Thinking the entire situation was floor jolted teacher Darby out of 27 children. Could you make it $50?”  
starting to unravel, I looked toward her trance, because she now made I pulled my wallet back out  
The noise of the book hitting the very far these days. Especially with  
Mrs. Darby for support, but she her way toward me with a peaceful and added $30, nodded my head,  
was staring out the window at a smile on her face. She thanked me turned and walked out the class-  
squirrel. Her eyes weren’t moving, once again for stopping by and room door, under the big black  
and she was sitting as rigid as a then led the class in a less-than-en- round clock. As I did so, I glanced  
rock. I think she had slipped into thusiastic round of applause. over my shoulder and noticed  
a trance of some kind, leaving me “I always ask our career-day the redhead and the felon giv-  
to fend for myself. I could feel a speakers one question before they ing a thumbs-up sign to teacher  
trickle of sweat working its way leave, and in your case it is a partic- Darby. I was right. Nothing had  
down my back. I turned back to the ularly pertinent question because changed.  
hostile crowd … I mean kids … and you once sat in this very classroom  
suggested that if there weren’t any and dreamed about your future.”  
Lyle R. Hill is the managing director of  
“Okay, Mrs. Darby. What would Keytech North America and a former  
that question be?” owner of a window film company in the  
“Well Mr. Hill, when you were in Midwest. He has more than 35 years of  
puppies,” said a previously quiet the seventh grade, what did you experience in glass-related industries.  
more questions that maybe I would  
leave now.  
Mr. Johnson brought a treat and  
WindoW Film