So last week was homecoming for the school I work with, and somehow, they thought it would be fun to put me in the dunk tank. For those who don’t know what a dunk tank is, you have a special seat on a hinge that releases the person sitting on it, dropping them into a huge bucket of water. The release button is a big button that people try to hit with baseballs.
Here’s my problem with the dunk tank. I don’t mind being made fun of, humiliation is good for the soul, and the teens clearly had a great time getting me back for all that homework I’ve been assigning recently. It is pretty clean fun that way. The question is, how am I supposed to act?
I mean, part of the fun of the dunk tank is that you get to knock down the big guy, so traditionally, the guy in the dunk tank is usually a bit insulting. He will yell out how bad you are at throwing the ball, make fun of you and give you an overall hard time. This makes it more fun when you actually hit the target and sink him. It’s a bit of instant karma.
I don’t want to be mean! I try to be nice. I’m not really into making fun of people. When they do hit the target, it’s not so bad, because they got me back, and it’s all good. But what about the kid who misses every time, walks away sad, and I was mean to him or her? And of course you can’t really be mean to any little kids that come up, so you find yourself bouncing between encouraging and making fun of them. It’s mentally disorienting.
I would like to propose a new system. Remove the skill. Make it a big button that everyone gets to press, maybe one you hit with a big hammer. That way I don’t feel as bad being mean. Then I can yell out how terrible their handwriting is, tell them if they are tardy one more time to my class they are getting detention for a week, and if I see them pull out their phone one more time I’m going to call their mom. Then they can hand over their tickets, hit the button, watch me get humiliated, and walk away with a big fat smile on their face.
It is good to get rid of the tension, but I can’t stand the thought of my teens hearing mean words from me without the release of getting the chance to pay me back. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe everyone should get a trophy in fair competition, and I think earned skill and hard work has natural rewards, but this is different, this is a carnival game.
I’m okay with playing the mean game, but only if they win it.