Not Hovis Approved

I spent way too many Saturdays at school. For 8 years, I was a speech and debate coach. Between October and March, I spent most Saturdays at a local high school’s debate tournament. Sometimes the tournaments were fancy, and I got to spend the day on a college campus like Stanford or Harvard. Most of the time I was stuck at a public school in the Denver Metro area like Cherry Creek, George Washington, or Chatfield. Tournaments start at 8 in the morning, but I’m required to be there before 7:30. They are not just boring, they are long and can easily last until 8 or 9PM. That was my life for nearly a decade. 

I often miss teaching. I do not miss debate tournaments. High schools are not built for comfort. If I wasn’t forced to judge a debate, I spent my time looking for a comfortable chair which were rare. The library might have one, but sometimes the library was off limits due to tournament activity. 

I was often forced to sit on furniture designed for high school children. I’m 6’8” and curvy. You could smoosh 4 or 5 high school kids into each other and still not match my formidable girth. The plastic circles attached to the cafeteria tables were only a tease. Maybe 30% of my ample posterior would be supported by such a “seat”. That left 70% spilling over the edges like when you push your thumb into play-doh. 

Some schools have tables and chairs. The school I taught at had these furnishings. While not overly pleasant, this configuration was acceptable. 

Desks were another story. Some desks had chairs and were not much more than small tables. I’m ok with those. Other desks have the chair attached. Why? Are these 2 items often separated from each other? The desk/chair combo also fails to consider that people are different sizes. Some freshmen have not reached 5 feet in height. While others are huge. I, for one, was 6’8” on the first day of my freshman year. If my school had desk/chair combos, I’d still be stuck in one. 

I went to several debate tournaments at Golden High School. It’s not as nice as it sounds, but it’s not that bad. It, however, lacks any adult seating. The choices presented to me were either sit in a desk/chair combo or stand. After I was sick of standing, I slid into a desk/chair combo. It was not the wraparound style that I was used to from elementary school. You know, the one that assumes every person is right handed. Instead, this was a normal chair attached to a small table-like desk. My back was firmly against the back of the chair. My belly spilled over onto the desk. It was not a good look, but things got a lot worse. 

I sat there cursing the shortsighted person who purchased these desks when the worst happened. The desk broke. The legs gave way. The desktop was still attached and trapped me. My weight was keeping pressure on the top of my legs because the desktop and the seat were connected. It was like a full body chinese finger trap. I could not get out. 

Maybe I could roll to the side? 

At debate tournaments, I am often in an empty classroom waiting for students. I could also be in a classroom with a couple of high school students. In my moment of crisis, neither was the case. I was in the coaches’ lounge, a classroom set aside for coaches to wait and consume processed foods. Am I lucky that people were there to help me or mortified that so many people witnessed the destruction of property via my weighty body? Honestly, neither. These people were speech and debate coaches. I don’t care about their opinion of me. They’re nerds. 

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