MATT’S MISHAPS | West Bend News

“Serving overseas as a small-town boy from America is intense, stressful and humorous! Enjoy a light-hearted story with me from our last 20 years overseas!”


Twisting Truth

In order to move overseas, it often requires much paperwork and waiting. Our paperwork process took 8 months, so I took a job as a substitute teacher at a rough Fort Wayne, Indiana elementary school until we left. Severely cutting himself in a chainsaw accident, the gym teacher took early retirement, and I took his job till the end of the school year. Each class was an adventure of taking kids to the nurse’s or principal’s office because of injury to themselves, others or even to me the teacher. When the time came for the Presidential Physical Fitness Test, most kids were less than excited. I tested the entire school of kids for a week. At the end of the week, only one student in the entire school met the standard for his age. The one passing student’s name was read aloud, and he was congratulated over the school’s PA. Then the students, teachers, and parents started coming to me. How could only one student pass?  Did I conduct the tests incorrectly? Had the standards been raised too high that year?  I called the recuperating and newly retired teacher at his home to get his input. He replied, “I forgot to tell you to ‘adjust the numbers’ so a few kids pass in each grade. I have been doing it that way my whole career.”

I still keep my instructor’s patch for the Presidential Physical Fitness Test.  I don’t know why, as I am afraid to put it on something I’d wear in public and get the angry stares of people who had a less-than-happy experience with it in gym class.

When we moved overseas, I learned many people preferred twisted truth too. I took a language class to be able to communicate in our new country. During the course, for some reason or another, I was unable to complete an assignment on time. When the teacher began collecting the assignment in front of the class, I told her, “I am sorry, I have not completed the assignment.” The teacher responded in perplexed anger and went on to yell at me for quite some time. Next came another student who didn’t finish the assignment, but she gave an elaborate and fanciful excuse on why she didn’t complete it. Everyone knew it was pure fiction, even the teacher, but the teacher was fine with the reason. After that student, others gave just as unplausible excuses as to why they didn’t complete the assignment, and each time the teacher calmly affirmed and forgave them. I since learned that it is considered bad form to not give an excuse (even if it is an obvious lie) in this culture.

Sometimes being a mishap is the right answer, even if the rest of the people are confused by it.

Something similar ever happen to you?   Contact me and let me hear your story!

[email protected]    Matt’s Mishaps, PO BOX 114, Grabill, IN  46741