Sometimes, it is New Pencil Day at the Writing Center. This is always a very exciting day but generally the excitement (and the pencils) only last for about that long. We don't know what happens, but somehow, if New Pencil Day is on a Monday, the New Pencils will be Old Pencils by Tuesday and Disappeared Pencils by Thursday.
One day, Tom was complaining about the state of the erasers. He actually went on kind of a rampage about it. Someone, it appeared, was picking the erasers off of the new pencils. He wanted to know who. He wanted to know why. He wanted it to stop. Tom has a kind of blustery personality so this outburst was not too shocking.
On this day, the Writing Center was not too busy. But the computer lab in 4051 was, so Kylie Marquis got kicked out and sent into the Writing Center in 4026, where all the other tutors were. A friendly conversation picked up at the Tutor Table.
All of a sudden, I noticed Kylie flinging something small across the table. I noticed the pencil that was in her hand as she leaned forward and put it back in the pencil basket. I noticed that the eraser was missing from the pencil and I realized that she had just flung the eraser across the table.
"Tooooom!" I said, pointing at the pencil.
Tom looked at the pencil and then at Kylie. He leapt to his feet, snatched up the pencil, and loomed over Kylie, enraged. "It's youuu!" he shouted, the vein in his neck throbbing. "You are doing this!"
Kylie cringed in her seat, covering her face with her hands. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" she said, leaning away from Tom.
"I can't use this!" he yelled, and dramatically snapped the pencil in half. "It's USELESS!"
"I'm sorry! It's a bad habit! I need to be something with my hands, I wasn't doing anything so I just picked at the eraser, it was just there....I'm sorry, okay??"
Eventually Tom stopped shouting, Kylie stopped cowering, and the laughter petered out.
A few days later, I picked up a shift in the Writing Center at 10:00 in the morning, when I never work. Penny, the Writing Center Director, came out of her office to discuss some things with us tutors and Kathy, the secretary. Once she was done with what she had to say, she sat at the table pondering for a minute and happened to notice the jar of sad, eraser-less pencils.
"What.....what happened to all the pencils??" she asked, gingerly picking one up to examine it. "I just got these this week, they were new this week, what happened to all of them?" She turned the pencil over in her hand. "I mean, this pencil had a fine eraser when I got it and now....it's just destroyed, do you see that? How did this happen? That is obscene! Someone must be chewing the erasers or picking them off. And I bought these with my own money. .....It was a dollar, but still, these are cute pencils, they are really cute! Who is doing this? Do you know who is doing this?"
Of course I thought of the incident a few days earlier. I thought it was really funny, so I decided to share. "Well I don't know about all the pencils but Tom is really mad about it, too. It was so funny, the other day....." Blablabla. I shared the exchange I had witnessed. Penny nodded seriously as I spoke.
"So it's Kylie. Which Kylie?"
There are two Kylies in the Writing Center, Kylie Marquis and Kylie McQuarrie. I said Kylie Marquis was the one in my story.
Penny nodded. "Okay, so what we need to do is give her her own pencils. She can pick the erasers off those ones if she wants. And those will be her pencils and she can't use any other pencils, and no one else can use her pencils. And we'll put her name on them so everyone knows. And she can get two pencils per week. And that should take care of it. Kathy, will you do that? Will you make two pencils for Kylie? Because I mean, this is ridiculous. These....you can't use these. And these were new, I got them just this week, and now they're ruined. I mean, that is obscene!"
I thought that was a really funny solution to the problem. It was 10:55 when I left and I passed Kylie Marquis as she was just coming in. "There's a present for you on the table!" I said on my way out, and felt a little sad that I didn't get to see how she would react.
I came back at 4 for my normal shift, which I work with Kylie McQuarrie. As I sat down at the Tutor Table, she said, "Did you tell Penny that Kylie Marquis was picking the erasers off the pencils?"
I paused. This sounded tricky. I said, "Ye-es. But not to be mean or tattle tale, I just thought it was a funny story so I told her about Tom getting mad at her. Why?"
Kylie smiled serenely. "Oh, I thought so. She's been mad at Heather Zollinger all day."
Heather Zollinger is the other Heather who works at the Writing Center and I guess Kylie Marquis thought that she was the snitch.
Kylie McQ said, still smiling: "And, it's actually me who's been picking off all the erasers."
"What!" This was astounding to me.
"Yes," she said, not really ashamed. "It's just a habit, I just like doing it. I think Kylie Marquis has maybe picked the erasers off of 3 pencils."
So as it turns out, Kylie Marquis got in trouble for Kylie McQ's crime, and blamed Heather Zollinger for (wrongly) ratting her out, when really it was Heather Connor.
How did we resolve this dilemma? Kylie McQ ratted herself out to Penny. She explained that Kylie Marquis isn't the only one destroying the pencils. I ratted myself out to Kylie Marquis with a nice note in her cubby. Penny addressed the issue at staff meeting this morning. And peace was restored in the Writing Center.