That Wasn’t Fair

For the love of beer
The perfect place and beverage to share some casual conversation.

If we were having a beer, you would ask the bartender why one of the TVs was set to CNN instead of a football game.

The people at the end of the bar wanted to watch the news.”

But there’s no sound and there’s no caption. What good is watching the news if you can’t tell what’s happening?

I’m trying to get the captioning to work, but I can’t find the remote for that TV. What team are you rooting for? I can put it on the other TV.”

I don’t care. Any game is fine, but it has to be that TV.”


In order to talk to him, I need to face that way.”

You could switch seats.”

No, I got here first, I bought the first round, and I do care. I went to Pitt, and they’re on that TV.”

Great, I get to watch more news about the kid with the clock. At least I already know the story.”

The ‘smart kid gets in trouble mainly because of his name and skin color’ story?

Yes, It’s sad, but maybe with all the attention it’s getting things will start to change. Getting into trouble for taking a science project to school… Can you imagine that happening when we were kids?

I got into trouble over a science project.”

Why am I surprised? What was your project?

Estes model rocket
Estes model rocket

Well, I had a model rocket that kind of misfired. One of the rocket engines went off on the way down after the bottom section broke. There was a little fire. Nobody got hurt, but I was told that people could have been hurt and that I should have built a simpler rocket.”

It sounds like your teacher should have checked your plans before allowing you to light the fuse.”

There was no fuse, we used electric igniters.”

You sound like you were pretty far out there on the geek scale.”

I was.”

Well, at least your teacher encouraged you.”

Actually, she didn’t. The rocket project was some kind of Scholastic Book Club deal. She didn’t really encourage any of us. In fact, I had other problems with that teacher.”

Another surprise. What other problems?

We were studying bridges and we had to write a report, draw a picture or build a model bridge.”

Wait, let me guess, they showed you the movie of that bridge in Tacoma, Washington that fell down, right?

Yep, Gallopin Gertie.”

So, of course, you decided to build a suspension bridge.”

The Sisters
Taken from PNC Park

Not at first. I wanted to build a model of one of  the “Sisters,” the three identical bridges in Pittsburgh that cross the Allegheny River.”

Wanted to, why didn’t you?

She wouldn’t let me. She said it had to be something of our own design. I argued. It wasn’t like there were plans to build those bridges in my Erector Set, but she still said no.”

Erector Set
My daughter has the parts of her Erector set in the box from mine.

What did you build?

I built a suspension bridge out of Balsa Wood and nylon string.”

What was wrong with that?

It was too big. I used a 36” long piece of Balsa Wood for the road deck and I built towers that were over two feet tall.”

So you got in trouble for making too big a bridge?

No, I got in trouble for disrespecting a teacher.”

Cheryl, can we get another round over here. Young Mr. Roebling is explaining how his career in engineering was nipped in the bud.”

For an accountant, you were pretty quick to remember Mr. Roebling.”

I’m an investment adviser, NOT an accountant. Anyway, you’ve piqued my interest, go on with the story. By the way, ‘disrespecting an authority figure’… still no surprise.”

Sigh… “I built the bridge, and I put some Matchbox cars and toy Army vehicles on it.”

I’m guessing you had bags of Green Army Men, too. I loved those little guys.”

I did, in fact, my wife bought me a bag of those for Christmas one year. I probably still have them in the attic.”

So, it seems like, other than the fact that you went over the top on this assignment, you did a good job. How did this lead to a disrespecting moment, or were you just a jackass back then?

Well, the teacher left my bridge on the floor because it was so big. Then, she put it up on the science cart, and…”

That thing they would roll from room to room with the little sink and a Bunsen Burner?


I always wondered where the water came from, and where it went.”

Anyway… She put my bridge up on the cart and dropped an eraser on the middle of it.”

Did it break?

No, it bent. It looked like Gallopin Gertie. Some of the supporting “cables” broke loose, the cars flew off and everybody laughed. I yelled at her, saying that it wasn’t fair to drop that much weight on it.”

You would think she would have been impressed that it didn’t break. An eraser in those days must have weighed as much as 20-30 Matchbox cars.”

She sent me to the principal.”

At least you didn’t get arrested.”

Still, I should have gotten an ‘A’ but I got a ‘C’ and I got detention for talking back to a teacher and for some of the words I used.”

You know, if that had happened today, you would have never built the bridge in the first place.”

Why do you say that?

You’d still be in jail for blowing up the rocket.

The Sisters
Taken from the 6th St. Bridge, these are the sisters:
Roberto Clemente (Sixth Street Bridge)
Andy Warhol (Seventh Street Bridge)
Rachel Carson (Ninth Street Bridge)

56 thoughts on “That Wasn’t Fair

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  1. Hahahaha! Hahahaa! Wait. Let me get myself together. First off, I love being your bartender. Never a dull moment when you come in. Secondly, I so get it. About the teacher. Here you are, a visionary ahead of his time and all you get is your bridge snapped. Good thing she wasn’t Orville and Wilbur’s teacher. 😏
    Oh and I still don’t really know the story about the boy with the Science project. Because I loathe the news. And the hype. I think I was watching reruns of the X Files on Netflix when the story first broke…you won’t believe what Mulder has uncovered now! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’ve earned a soft spot in our family’s heart for watching the X-Files Cheryl, Faith is a huge fan. You are the bartender now. If you ever want to quit, just give me two weeks notice. You earned that job in responding to the Jack & Diet haters :)

      The kid with the clock is a sad story. The initial over-reaction and bureaucratic backpedaling to try and save face. There might be a whiff of substance, but if the kid was white and named Billy, they would have resolved the matter in-class, quickly and without the police, the media and the President.

      My treatment was based on a different kind of prejudice, which is why this post is in the category ‘Jupiter Effect.’ Thanks for the comment and for your devotion to duty behind the bar.


  2. Too bad you didn’t know my friend Carol, who also was a visionary and a teacher and who encouraged the kids she taught to be unique. I’ll try to be nice. REALLY try. Oh heck! That teacher is the one who deserved a “D” for teaching! Pouring water on a kid’s enthusiasm and imagination is IMO, a crime. *sighs* Now that I got that off my chest, good to know I’m not the only one who got in trouble with teachers for being ME. LOL And I am glad to hear you finally got the TV turned to the correct channel. Even if I am not into sports, news is even worse. Thanks for sharing the beer with me, Dan, even though I am sipping on my coffee this morn!! <3

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After the week you’ve had Amy, you need a coffee. I am also drinking coffee now, but there will be a beer later. Teachers not only have the ability to encourage/discourage but they are in a position to let that decision be based on their personal prejudice. That’s what happened to me and I’m certain that that’s what happened to Ahmed down in Texas. When the line between right and wrong gets blurred, we are left to rely on judgement. When judgement is blurred by personal feelings, we’re in trouble, or we get there quickly.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It just makes me sad to know that teachers can and do discourage their students from being innovative and creative. They, IMO, should NOT be teaching! There is so little encouragement in this world as it is and when someone of authority like a teacher bashes a child’s imagination, that puts my teeth on edge to a degree that I have no words for. Despite those early “wrongs” I am glad to see that some of us managed to sustain our creativity to express WHO WE ARE. (smile) <3

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful Dan. I think I had the same teacher. I was in the equivalent of honors science and had the audacity to question the teacher on her information. Spent a couple of hours in detention and then got an invite to join the science club which she was the advisor. (Yes I accepted)

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thanks Dan. I’ll wear my “If We Were Having A Beer” tee shirt with pride. And you’ll likely have to run me off since barteending has always been a secret dream of mine to experience. 😄
    Yeah, die hard XFiles fan here. It’s also why I like Grimm. Similar plot lines. Without the suits.
    That is awful about the student and how he has been treated. The saddest part of everything to me is the death of true news reporting and the across the board goal to sensationalize, judge, and give the public more fuel for their fury, no matter which side a person is on. Hey when I was in school you could still wear your own clothes and they weren’t afriad to send someone home if their shirt was too short. (Yeah, but it only happened to me once. I was being a rebel. Boy was my Dad mad at me) By the time my youngest got to school they were spending 30 minutes of valuable class time checking to make sure his socks matched his uniform pants! Yet no one cared if he misspelled words in his essays….
    It is scary to think about an entire country being worked up into a frenzy isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It always amazes and disappoints me how often we run into teachers who are more interested in being the ‘authority’ than in actually, you know, _teaching_. No wonder intolerance propagates and ‘thinking people’ are so rare.

    Another fabulous post. Thanks for taking the time to write it!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. No truer statement can be made. And it goes for so many experiences from child rearing to terrorism. The age of technology is the most double edged sword in existence. How brilliant to have knowledge at one’s fingertips as well as kinship, compassion and a place to express oneself. But the need to be guided, led or influenced by the same technology has, in my opinion, become too much of the norm for most of the population. They want to be told what the teuth is, where too stand and how to feel about things. It really firghtens me. I was blessed to have some great teachers throughout my school years that really lifted me up. They were not all that way but every year there was at least one. Usually my English or writing teachers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s funny that you mention English and writing teachers Cheryl. In high school, I had so many teachers that couldn’t seem to bother but I had two English teachers who encouraged us to think for ourselves and one in particular encouraged me to find a way to write, regardless of my career objectives. Those were some of the very few classes I enjoyed in school.


  7. For one of my science/history projects, I decided to build a model of the Panama Canal. I used really big rocks from my own back yard. It never occurred to me that I would then have to drag that sucker from my house, onto the schoolbus, and into school (and at that time, we also all had those bulging bookbags and piles of humungous books). After that, I learned to make my projects much smaller.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never quite learned that lesson. I remember taking that bridge in on the bus, loosely wrapped in newspaper and sandwiched into to lager grocery bags. Lighter, I’m sure than your rocks, but tough to navigate. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great story. Funny and kind of sad. Creativity, excitement, and initiative is squashed, or as you said, if you have the wrong skin color or name you better be invisible. The fear mongers have created an environment where children are put in handcuffs. Ugh.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When I see this happening in school, by teachers, I fear that another generation will graduate thinking that this kind of behavior is OK. We should be teaching tolerance, acceptance and the fact that initiative, creativity and hard work are rewarded, not the random luck associated with where and to whom you were born. Thanks so much for this comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree. And it’s not only schools. Some of our media is skilled at spreading fear, and our politicians are even worse. I’m most concerned about the pointed effort to create fear, including lying to stir people up. It’s twisted thinking.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. BTW, my physics teacher, a polish man (from Poland) made a deal with me midterm in physics. He said if I never came back he’d give me a C (I was an A student but really didn’t get physics.) If I came back he would fail me. I took physics four times before I got a B (had to in order to graduate as an architect) and never understood it until I read a Buddhist book, “The Dancing Wu Li Masters” and having a long conversation with Charles Fleischer, who you would know as the voice fo Roger Rabbit. Long story.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I think they teach it wrong to many folks. Now that I understand the relativity of it all, I can drop into a better understanding of the math behind it — the book is based on a conference at Esalen (Big Sur) whereby Buddhists were sitting at the same table with physicists — different conferences, same dining hall.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. This post had so much stuff in it but I will contain my laughter and try to focus. The rocket sounds like my brothers. The erector set also was one of my Dad and brothers’ favorite way to spend time along with train sets, (HO and some other type, I forget.)
    I did an amazing job at my elementary science fair, won and went on to districts, then State. I came in third in physical science, with beautiful poster with the facets of crystals and some special ones I grew with super-saturated liquids. The easiest one to get huge was the Alum Crystal. Smiles, Robin Love the way the bar scene went and boy, to be a ‘fly on the wall.’ I probably say this every time you are having a brew out, Dan!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Robin. Sounds like you were leading the way for women in science. I lived with my Erector Set and I was lucky to get leftover parts from older cousins. By the time I was done playing with it, I could build anything.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Teachers discouraging students is heartbreaking. We had one in high school who used to confiscate our novels because they would “make us stupid”. He wanted us read only textbooks. I look back at those days and wish I could talk to him about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You sound like you were trouble with a capital T. I can’t believe your teacher totaled your bridge on purpose. I imagine you scared her with the rocket, but how could you scare her with a model and some matchbox cars? I wish you’d had my Physics teacher. She had “Question Authority” on her wall, and a devilish gleam in her eye. The attitude of the teacher can make all the difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had a few good teachers along the way, ones who encouraged me and who looked beyond the surface. I had an English teacher in high school who had a similar poster on the bulletin board. My bridge wasn’t a pretty little model, but it was a fairly functional bridge. Unless it’s to support and encourage every student, teachers should leave their attitude in their locker. Thanks for the comment Brenda.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s so true. Being in that school system was difficult for me, but my parents, particularly my father were very supportive. People talk about “making it on their own” but it’s rare to succeed without support, particularly when you’re young.


  12. My brother and I had a great time playing with those little green Army men when we were kids. We’d place them all around the room we shared. One time my brother hid one next to the light by the door and forgot about it. We discovered it later, melted against the light bulb. Try explaining THAT casualty to the family. O_o

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Haha! That last line is awesome! You would have been the kid every one watched…I think I might have liked science if it was the ‘fun’ of seeing what you had cooked up. My sophomore English teacher was the best–Mr Bradley. I wonder if there is something about English teachers..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not too many kids were watching me, unless something was going wrong. I think there is something about English teachers. Several English teachers encouraged me to explore things through reading and writing. Thanks for visiting.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for the comment Judy. It is funny, looking back. I remember the really good teachers and the ones that made me sad. So many others just did their job. I can remember them if I think about it, but they usually don’t come to mind. Sam Adams is one of the good things about New England :)


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