Fire drills are a nightmare for subs. Imagine being charged with keeping track of 27 people you’ve never met before who are pretty much trying to lose you. And they’re all the same age and look surprisingly alike. And they know the surroundings much better than you do.
When you’re a sub, the problem with fire drills isn’t getting the kids out of the building. It’s keeping track of them while you do, then knowing where to take them. And getting them all back in again, of course.
Subs pretty much have to follow the kids, at least enough to know which are theirs and where they meet up outside. So once I tried following a girl in a red shirt. Later I found out I had managed to pick the only new student in the classroom. She didn’t know where she was going any more than I did, so we both ended up getting lost. If you’re lost, you are considered unaccounted for, and the fire department has to plan to go in after you. It’s all pretend, of course, but the fire department doesn’t enjoy even pretending to go in after you. Which is understandable.
One problem is that when you’re my age, they all look alike. If you decide to follow what looks like a distinctive plaid shirt, for example, when they all come pouring out of classrooms in thundering droves, suddenly there will be at least ten distinctive plaid shirts. And high school kids are big. They block your view.
So one of the last times I tried to follow several students at once. I kept repeating to myself what I was following. I kept repeating dreadlocks, flower-and-skeleton shirt, t-shirt with the word “bong” on it, girl-who-looks-like-the-girl-who-plays-Bella. Lost Bong Shirt immediately. Dreadlocks walked away, but I managed to track him down. Kept Bella Look-Alike in sight, but she was petite, so that made it hard.
In the end, I made it to the right place thanks to Flower-and-Skeleton kid, who was big. Hooray! But it turned out Flower-and-Skeleton had Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. He realized I was following him and took it personally.
He never forgave me for it.