The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

I wandered into the local library on my way home, as I knew one of my tutor group would be doing his Work Experience in there, and had already been given a glowing report.
In the reading rooms, I bumped into several of my tutor group students, waiting to meet Adam for the walk home, all bursting with pride about how grown up they were, how responsible, how the simplest tasks seemed important because they were being treated as adults. 14 is young to be doing work experience, I guess - we've had some phone calls from worried bosses wondering why their student hasn't spoken for two day's solid. You have to explain that the kid may not often have been left alone in a room full of grown ups he doesn't know before, much less been asked to answer a telephone.

Needing a second form of ID to join the library, I attempted to pass Adam off as a guarantor of all my books and fines, with some success.
The librarian, who struck me as a gentle, dishevelled type in his early forties, dressed very practically in a librarian's uniform of corduroy elbow patches and hush puppies, chatted to me about how mature Adam had seemed when dealing with customers.
"He was called 'the man' today. A young mum asked her little girl to 'give those books to the man'."
I must have looked nonplussed, as he decided to let me a bit further into his world. "You probably don't realise, but it's an important day in a boy's life when he gets called 'the man' for the first time. Makes you feel taller. I had to wait till I was 32 myself."