Option #3: The Salute

Posted: September 14, 2014 in Amazing and Interesting Stories, Classroom, Humor
Tags: ,

As is often the case with these things, I’ve no idea where I came up with the idea. I believe it all started when I was teaching at Greenfield Middle School and a pretty good kid did something stupid. It should come as no surprise that this happens often, good kids doing dumb things. Anyway, I didn’t want to punish the kid too severely for what he’d done, just rip his ass and scare him a little bit.

However, for some reason I gave this student three options regarding his discipline. His options were:

1. He had a week of detention.

2. I’d make a call to his mom and dad.

And for reasons unbeknownst to me . . .

3. He had to promise to salute me every time he saw me for the rest of his life.

Yeah, I know. Makes no sense on any level. I’ve never been in the armed forces or anything. Like I said, the kid made a dumb mistake, I don’t even remember what it was. I wanted him to remember what he’d done without really getting him into trouble, ya know?

And of course he picked #3. Who wouldn’t? For the next several years every time I saw this kid in the hallway, at sporting events, anywhere, he stopped and saluted.

Bottom line, I used this form of “discipline” several times over the years at Greenfield, Rainsboro, Twin and Paint Valley. You’d think in most cases Option #3 would be forgotten pretty quickly, right?


Here are some examples of students sticking to their promise . . .

When the kid I just mentioned was probably in his early twenties, I was stopped at a stoplight in Greenfield and the girl I was with said, “Uh, Dave, what’s that guy doing?” I glanced over and there, catty-cornered across the street, standing on the sidewalk, was my guy. He was standing at attention, saluting me.

Once I was coaching a varsity basketball game at Paint Valley and something caught my eye across the court. There, standing at mid-court, was a 30-year old man saluting me.

Another time I went to a funeral in Bainbridge, had left the funeral home and was pulling into the graveyard for the burial. There, standing by the entrance, was one of the funeral home workers, saluting me as I passed.

I was once at a restaurant in Columbus with a group of people. At one point everyone at my table got sort of quiet. I looked up to see everybody staring at something a couple tables away. Yep, there was a former student, standing quietly, at attention, and saluting.

Perhaps my favorite memory is this one –  while visiting friends at the beach one summer, I took a moment to step out on the balcony of their condo to take in the view. At some point I glanced down, and there, standing in the surf and saluting, was a former student.

What were the odds?

All these salutes in weird places were from former students who’d taken Option #3. The odd thing is, nobody ever yells first or anything. They just stand there quietly, waiting patiently for me to notice them. Odder still is the fact that other people notice them first. It’s often another person who points them out to me.

So, if you choose to attend my funeral someday (and I hope it’s a l-o-n-g way off), don’t be surprised if the occasional person stops at my casket, smiles, and gives me a short salute.

After all, they’re just fulfilling a promise.

  1. yourothermotherhere says:

    It’s kind of like Robin Williams in “Dead Poets Society”.

Gimme a holler.

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