Monday, May 14, 2012

Education: How do You Measure Up?

Photo Credit:M. Hankins
How many kids have you helped?  One hundred?  One thousand?  Ten thousand?  Last week our school lost someone who arguably has done more for kids(and teachers) than anyone else at the TU put together.  A real legend.  His name was Gus.  Um...actually it was Gus 2 but we aren't actually sure if there was a Gus 1 so the number after his name just seems unnecessary.  Like when you talk about the Superbowl people assume it is the one that just happened or the one coming up.

Mr. Hand wasn't such a bad guy.
Speaking of super... You may recall the mimeograph machine of your youth that students adored. Reason being that beloved scent and euphoria when copies came fresh and warm.   It is a lost reference to those too young to remember the scene in Fast Times at Ridigemont High(how'd that get left off our teacher movie list?).  I vaguely remember them but for some odd reason my short term memory has always been weak.

Teaching was hard labor
I do remember doing my student teaching at a tiny rural school here in VA that it would be fair to say was a bit behind cutting edge.  The copy machines there were still hand cranked.  The purple ink they used ruined all of the dress shirts  I owned in college(all 5). The school was built in 1939 and not equipped with the luxury of "conditioned air." That made the prospect of making copies in that 3rd floor copy room  and the amount of effort involved far less appealing.    So when I arrived at AHS I appreciated Gus that much more. 

 While mimeographs historically have captured more attention from generations of ink heads, Gus and his risograph friends were the workhorse of the fleet laboring away with little thanks.  As advertised he provided "productivity and cost-savings"...and was a " fast and reliable printing solution... designed for highspeed production."  Day after day, week after week, year after year.  Gus was a superstar.  To me he rose to almost mythic status and helped me help kids.  His rhythmic cadence was hypnotic and oddly soothing.  He never complained or got grumpy when you need copies five minutes before class.  He never worried about copyrights.  Sure he had breakdowns but he never took a personal day or even a field trip.  He just sat in one place and made the copies.  A lot of copies. 

Gus was around for some time.  He must have been to make 5.1 million copies. (26 tons)(over 900 miles) (1615 feet high: Empire State Building=1473) (950 copies every schoolday for 30 years)
Photo Credit:M. Hankins

Pause this evening and consider if your efforts measure up to that.  So as he moves on to that ...that...well to wherever they take old copy machines, TU pauses to salute Gus 2.  Rest easy old friend.  Well done sir.  Well done. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm over at William Monroe and somewhere in the yearbook is a picture of our Risograph (in action, too) with a caption about its being the unsung hero of the building.

    My condolences for your loss.