‘Ass whoopin’ always worked for me…and solitary confinement’

Every time I complain that D.C. is too sanitized and boring for me, I have an odd run-in with a twisted weirdo. The crazy characters are comforting in a way and remind me of my northern California upbringing, so as long as none of the eccentric strangers put me at risk, I’m not threatened by their presence.

On my way to meet a friend this afternoon, I sat next to an old man on the metro. I assumed the ten-minute ride would be uneventful, but peculiarity struck long before I arrived at my train stop.

A few feet away from us sat a middle aged woman and her little girl, who repeatedly squirmed in her seat and tried to hold one of the car poles. The child refused to stay put, so naturally her mother became visibly frustrated and flustered.

After studying at the scene a moment, the old dude turned to me and said, “It’s ass whoopin’ time for that kid! Ass whoopin’ always worked for me, you know, although I disagree with corporal punishment.”

“I think sometimes, it’s necessary,” I replied, reflecting on my childhood memory of getting spanked for sprinting away from my parents and siblings at the mall. At the time, I was three years old and absolutely did not want to leave the grand Glendale Galleria, so when my parents said we were heading out, I flat out refused to comply with their demands. Instead, I vowed to find another family and never see my relatives again.

“I’m through with all of you! I want a new family!” I said.

Just as my mom was about to grab me by the arm and drag my ass out to the parking lot, I spotted a Vietnamese family of seven and believed they would be happy to adopt me. With that, I bolted up the escalator, ran up to the family, and latched onto the presumed mother’s leg.

“Hi, new family!” I yelled, tilting my head to smile at the faces of my new kin.

For that, I received a time-out and spanking, and rightfully so. For all I knew, I’d rushed over to a pack of child molesters or serial killers, so my family taught me that it’s unacceptable to disobey and talk to strangers. My stance on spanking remains the same, at least when kids pose a danger to themselves or others.

Though I didn’t share this story with the old guy on the train, he claimed he could tell I held this view.

“I knew you would say that,” he said of my thoughts on spanking. “You’re secretly tough. You see, ass whoopin’ always kept me in line. That and getting locked up in solitary confinement. Ever done that?”

No, I answered.

When it was time for me to exit the train, the guy said, “Heading out already? Too bad. I would love to email you to tell you whether this little girl over here gets her ass whooped.”

For obvious reasons, I didn’t give him my contact info. For one, I didn’t think the young child’s impatient, antsy behavior warranted physical punishment. Second, I had no interest in learning of her fate, especially if she was going to get hurt. Call me crazy, but I don’t take pleasure in watching or hearing about the suffering of children, or anyone for that matter.

Last weekend, my lovely roommate Anna relocated to her new apartment in Maryland, so our place was pretty deserted until her friend started sub-leasing the room today. It’s nice to have someone else in the apartment again, even though I’ll be moving out in 2.5 weeks. I’m not sure I can function without another person around, as I’m more likely to oversleep, hit the snooze button, and forget certain important tasks. I’m all set to begin living in my new home at the end of the month, so I’m hoping that better experiences and memories will take place during my second year in the nation’s capital.

Earlier this evening, I learned that Tom Milnes, a noteworthy history teacher at Scotts Valley Middle School, had died. Crystal broke the news to me and said she didn’t know the cause of death, but had tracked down his name in my church’s August 7 newsletter, which urged the Catholic community to pray for ill parish members. Milnes’s name appeared on the prayer list, so sickness is likely the culprit here.

In seventh grade, I was insanely jealous of Crystal and Nikita for being placed in Mr. Milnes’s history class. Mrs. Jacobson, a pushover who ultimately had her purse stolen by a disrespectful student, was my instructor and didn’t leave a lasting impression. The only things I took away from that class were memories of her taking abuse from callous, bratty pre-teens. One rude student in particular refused to accept Mrs. Jacobson as his superior. When the squeaky twit got tired of shouting, “MRS. JACOBSON!” every five minutes, he began screaming, “SYLVIA” without retribution. It was only after he snatched her bag and took $20 from her wallet that this little punk faced consequences for his actions.

All that aside, Mr. Milnes would have never stood for that kind of behavior and treatment from a student. Though he wasn’t my teacher, he welcomed me into his classroom during lunch and recess, as Crystal, Nikita, and I often sought shelter from frequent northern California downpours. I always appreciated that Mr. Milnes accepted students who weren’t his own. Most other teachers wouldn’t associate with anyone except their own students, but Mr. Milnes wanted to know as many SVMS dolphins as possible.

Judging by a Scotts Valley Press-Banner column from last year, Mr. Milnes remained considerate of others until the end of his life. In a piece titled, “It’s the Law: Law discourages Good Samaritans,” Gary Redenbacher (who spoke to my fifth grade class about his famous popcorn CEO relative Orville Redenbacher in 1998!) wrote of Milnes:

“This brings me to a hero in our midst. Those who know Tom Milnes know him as an outstanding history teacher at Scotts Valley Middle School. A while ago, some students burst out of a classroom in panic after a classmate went into what appeared to be cardiac arrest. Tom happened to be walking by the classroom at that instant. Without a second thought, he rushed to the student and performed CPR. Although I don’t know the student, I am informed that the student is now doing well but would have died had Tom not stepped in immediately.

I doubt any legalities were running through Tom’s head as he fought to save this student’s life. Still, it’s comforting

to know that the law encourages the heroic actions of Tom and every other Good Samaritan.”

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