Tales Out Of School Spunk or tact

“They don’t know what they’re doing to send that scrawny man to be headmaster of this school. He looks as if the slightest wind will blow him down.”

“I bet you he’s going to beg them to transfer him from here before the term ends. They know it’s bad-johns live here. They know quite well that we don’t make sport, yet they send that puny-looking man to be headmaster for the school. The man is mere skin and bones.”

Those were just a few of the comments made by several parents of the backward community where the school was situated, and their children began to look forward to taking advantage of the situation.

What they didn’t know was that as thin as he was, he didn’t make sport either, as they soon found out. What he lacked in spunk, he made up for in tact.

As he stood before the school on the first day, some pupils burst out laughing, some tapped on desks, while others carried on conversations. In fact, they did everything they could think of to cause confusion and annoy him, and they expected him to take normal steps like ringing the bell and blustering out for quietness, in which case they intended to show the stuff they’re made of.

The class teachers, who held the same opinion as the parents, did nothing to control their classes; and all that he would do was to stand for roughly 10 minutes, looking at the faces before him. You see, he was well versed in psychology – a study of the human mind. He could correctly guess how persons would react by simply observing them; and that’s what he was doing.

To everybody’s surprise, he started looking in the direction where a “bad-boy” named Sammy stood, and amidst the din, he started to beckon. Believe it or not, there was a gradual hush in the building.

“What’s he up to now?” they all wondered. In disbelief and surprise, Sammy gazed all around for a while until he realised that the headmaster was actually beckoning for him to come.

In awe, he moved forward in the room that had become so quiet, you could almost hear a pin drop, and which remained quiet while the headmaster drew him aside and spoke to him. Minutes later, he stood before the school once more, and with his hand resting on Sammy’s shoulder, he addressed them thus:

“Good morning, teachers. Good morning, boys and girls. From the reception that you have given me so far, I get the impression that you do not wish to hear from me; so I have asked your companion here who seems to be a bright fellow, to speak for me.”

Everybody was stunned, but none more so than Sammy. All thoughts of rebellion left him, and this is what he said: “Friends, this is or new headmaster. He reached this stage because as a schoolboy like us, he behaved himself and learned his lesson. Everywhere I turn, I hear people saying that he is thin like a rake. That’s all they have against him. If they are so concerned, what they can do is to jostle against one another to make sure that until he gets married and has someone to see that he gets good meals regularly, they send him hot meals.

“You know my mother has a cook-shop, and as soon as I go home I’m going to plead with her to send him some of her famous bull-foot soup and fungie and pepperpot weekly.”

Immediately, they responded with deafening cheers, while Sammy went back to his place. The headmaster then took over, and everything went smoothly.