I recently found out that one of my favorite teachers from high school passed away. She wasn’t just a teacher, she was one of the most selfless humans I’ve ever encountered. There are things in my past that I am not proud of. However to fully grasp the impact she made on me, I’m going to be 100% transparent. There is not a doubt in my mind, that without her I would not be the person I am today. Now sit back and let me explain.
1995-1996 were a couple of active years for me. I was a bit rebellious. The summer before my senior year I moved into an apartment, above a bar, while I worked at a liquor store…. Now you’re getting the picture. That summer was a nonstop party. As a matter of fact, I would make it a point to sit on the curb smoking cigarettes at 5am just to wave at my mom as she drove by to go to work. Now, if I waved with my full hand, or just my middle finger is a detail that’s I’ve blocked from my memory. I sucked, completely sucked. Eventually my mom and I must have found some common ground and forgiveness. I moved back home before my senior year started. Still selfish, self destructive and living to party, but home.
During high school when you were a senior you had the opportunity to participate in a co-op/work experience class. Basically you worked and got school credit for it. You came in and did 3 hours of school, then left and went to work. I was kind of big shit, and worked part time at the local Kmart. My first “real” job that had a time clock, lunch room and layaway. It was a great gig for a couple of months. Every thing was going great. Until that one Saturday night.
When you are 17 and there’s a huge party, you absolutely need to go. Prior commitments mean nothing. It is almost life or death. I remember standing there on auto pilot. Muttering my best “Thank you for shopping at Kmart” at the end of every transaction. Finally it hit me, I’d just be sick. I did my very best fake sick impression to no avail. They didn’t bite. There was obviously only one logical thing left to do. As I flipped off that register light I felt a sense of power. I’ll be damned if I’m going to miss an epic party for a job. Just like that, I quit my damn job with zero thought about any sort of consequence, or even a plan. Threw that red vest on the table and grabbed my stuff. In hindsight, I don’t even remember who’s party it was. It must have definitely not been epic.
So now I have no job, but a co-op class that excuses me every day at 10:30-11:00. No questions asked. I’m not really sure how long I thought I could ride it out. Initially I think I thought I’d just get another job real quick and it wouldn’t be a big deal. Well all the pot I smoked, and Boones Farm I drank definitely clouded my judgment. Before I knew it about a month had passed. I was living the life. Going to school for 3 hours and then going home and sleeping off the night before. I was a damn genius.
That was until Ms. Domire called me into her classroom, looked me dead in the eyes and asked ever so calmly “how’s your job going?” Obviously my guilt never even started to bubble to the surface as I looked at her and said “it’s great!” Now obviously she had to check in on all of her students, so I’m not sure how exactly I thought I was going to pull that off. I can still hear her say “well isn’t that something, because I was told you quit and walked out over a month ago.” Now looking back the right response would be to cry and beg for forgiveness. Of course I didn’t, I stood there and laughed. I’m a laugher buy nature, but that might not have been the best time to do it.
Now what? I needed those credits to graduate. The easiest thing for her to do, would have just failed me and been done with it. Some smart ass 17 year old thinking she would pull some shit deserves to have a rough consequence. Teach her a lesson she won’t forget. But she didn’t. She came to me and said, “Jenny Voogd, the was I see it, you owe me some serious hours.” To this day no one calls me Jenny, but she always did. Joyce wasn’t just a teacher she also owned an ice cream shop. I can’t remember how many hours I spent slinging ice cream and mowing her lawn but I earned those damn hours plus some.
She saw things in me that I couldn’t see in myself. She knew that someday that smart ass, suspension veteran would be so much more. Without Joyce I honestly have no idea where I would be in the world. She did so much more for me than she ever needed to do. She will forever and always be one of the most influential people in my life. Rest In Peace Ms. Domire.