Few parents ever challenged anything. Most took what they got and assumed the bureaucracy worked, even if there was a student sitting at the desk firing off orders. Although the parents depended on the bureaucracy to function, they were hardly ever humble— they came in $300 cellphones and expensive suits, probably dressed down just slightly to sympathize with the underpaid school worker. They’d pal around with you, try to earn a favor for their kid. But the moment Timmy or Jeffy got a bad grade they’d come to you outraged and demanding an answer. The secretary who worked the front desk was actually a nice enough lady, and Gentry had seen plenty of shit-faced mules storm in to demand where they could see so and so about some unfair teacher or another. No hello, no goodbye, no one bothered to memorize her name. No one ever bought her presents at the end of the year, because no one needed her or valued her work.
Gentry sat at her desk, and would earnestly promise to
“deliver this message” or “that paper” for people who addressed him with “hey.”
Then he would put the paper away and leave it alone, since doing nothing usually
did more harm than doing something.
But Johan and Delilah
seemed nice enough. Too bad their kid was a troublemaker.
Gentry felt bad for those types of parents, even though he sometimes scared
them more by citing fake rules. Then he would pretend to reverse them, and
sheepishly accept their thank-you’s. Yet he didn’t have the stomach to do it
with these ones… he was too excited to keep a straight face.
The man took a seat beside his wife. The wife gave Zach a
quick, nervous smile that was probably meant to lift spirits. For Gentry, it
did the opposite. Sophia smiled that way, too. Not with her teeth, just the
corners of her mouth… a smile so small you could miss it if you blinked