A Matter of Rudeness
The little crowd walked down the hallway following its leader like little ducks tripping after their mother; only, in this instance, the mother duck was notably smaller than its ducklings. Sister Johanna was barely over five feet tall while the parents, a mixture of young and middle aged mothers and a few fathers all seemed to loom taller. The Sister’s voice was soft but clear as she continued her dialogue describing the features of the school. With her short, perky hair-do, black knee length skirt, sparkling white high-necked blouse and highly polished low-heeled black shoes she looked more like one of the older students than a nun of the Order of St. Rose.
Although built before World War I, the building housing the local Parish’s K to 12 school was in excellent condition. After the tour of the auditorium, gym and a number of classrooms and labs, they were now following the Sister down the cavernous main entrance hall admiring the highly polished hard wood floors and the paneled walls with their displays of school memorabilia. When they came to an open double door she stopped and faced her audience as they formed a semi-circle in front of her.
“Before we enter this lunchroom, where we will be treated to a snack of cookies and coffee or tea, whichever is your preference, provided by the good ladies of our PTA, I’d like to answer any questions you may have” she said with a smile. “Some of you have other children who had been here before or might even be in attendance now but I know most of you are new to our school. We can continue visiting inside but it will be a bit more hectic.”
While she had been talking the door to the school’s front entrance had opened and a man stepped into the hall. He took off the baseball cap he’d been wearing and walked quietly toward them on his white Nike sneakers, stopping a few feet to Sister’s right. She saw her audience’s eyes shifting to her right and turned to see a slender, rather good-looking, young man dressed in neatly creased new-looking dungarees and a short-sleeved light blue sport shirt displaying a white soccer ball surrounded by the words, World Cup 2014.
He had neatly trimmed almost pitch black curly hair, rather authoritative dark eye brows and the most dazzling, white smile Sister had ever seen.
For just a moment she felt an almost forgotten emotion; one she’d not had since she was a young girl and one she thought she had been able to forget and suppress. No one noticed her little shiver but the dark eyes looking at her appeared to emit a humorous yet understanding reaction.
“Oh Hi,” said Sister Johanna. “Is there anything I can help you with?”
“No, not right now, thank you,” answered the young man. "I would like to talk to you about one of your students but please continue with what you’re doing. I can wait ‘til you’re done.”
As he was talking another door across the hall opened and a large lady approached them like an infantry sergeant marching toward a rank of recruits. Similar to Sister Johanna, she was dressed in a black skirt with a white blouse but wore a dark grey jacket over the blouse that displayed a number of emblems. She was of a size that was easily the double of Sister Johanna and was obviously also a nun but one of some superior rank. Stepping between the young man and the Sister, with her back to him, she said something to Sister Johanna that no one could hear.
“Excuse me!” said the young man in a snappy tone of voice.
The lady spun around. “What, what did you say?”
“I said excuse me,” he repeated. “It would be the minimum of politeness to at least say ‘Excuse me’ when interrupting my conversation with the good Sister.”
Sister Johanna blushed in embarrassment and shook her head in warning to the young man but it was too late.
“You .. you.. , sputtered the older nun. “You have the audacity to criticize me? Me, the director of this school. I’m interrupting you? Well! Let me tell you, young man, it’s you that needs a lesson in recognizing authority when you see it. What are you doing here anyway? Are you trying to cause us trouble? We can’t have just any trash walking in here. I’m getting Father Holder to come take care of YOU”
With that she spun on her heel and marched back through the door she’d come through.
“I’m so sorry,"said an embarrassed Sister Johanna. “Sister Walters is always very busy and she does get annoyed easily. I hope you can forgive her.”
“I’m sorry too,” replied the young man. “But I can not forgive her. She not only doesn’t deserve it but it’s above my pay grade.” Then, turning part way to address the rest of the audience who had watched the exchange with mixed emotions, he continued, “It is a shame that you had to be witness to that. Unfortunately, that’s one of the problems of the world today. Just think how different things might be if every one would treat everyone else with respect? If everyone would be polite to everyone else regardless of race, religion or heritage? Wars would be fewer and far between if debates opened with a ‘Please’ and their responses received with a ‘Thank you’. It is such a simple thing that God asks of us but that even angels struggle with."
As he was talking they noticed the door in back of him opening again and Sister Walters and an older man stepped though and headed toward them.
“There he is Father. Young delinquent - causing trouble – won’t listen to his superiors, you've got to do ------.
And then she stopped. The young man had heard and turned to face her. No one else but Sister Walters and Father Holden could see his face or the look in his eyes but their's opened wide with fear and shock.
A moment of complete silence fell over the huge hall they were standing in as he turned back to Sister Johanna and said, “I’m afraid I have to leave now. Someone else will talk to you another time about the child I mentioned. It is rare that God allows this but this time She says it’s ‘OK’ because one response to rudeness is to simply .... and then, without a blare of sound or flash of light or blast of air – he vanished!