In a Pinch

student desks

Mrs. Principe (Pronounced Prince-i-pea) had a way of looking perturbed that made nearly everyone smile.

She had manicured fingernails, perfect hair, and seemed a bit out of touch – ditsy. Perhaps the difference between Filipino and American culture was a factor.

Travis Tweedie and I sat in English class with our desks pressed up against Mrs. Principe’s. Good students sat toward the back.

When you misbehaved she called you forward and pinched your forearm with her impeccable nails. It was a badge of honor. We laughed in the hall, after.

Everyone enjoyed Mrs. Principe because she loved students, English, and, she was just a bit out of touch.

Mrs. Principle’s teaching rhythm went like clockwork. She sat, talked, stood, turned to write on the board, and then sat again.

One day, when Mrs. Principe was deep in her rhythm, Travis and I began nudging her desk toward the chalk board. Every time she turned, we nudged and then pulled our desks forward. I could feel the pinch coming.

After several rotations, the gap between our desks and the ones behind us grew obvious. We waved everyone forward.

She turned. Travis and I pushed. Everyone slid forward. Eventually, the space between Mrs. Principie’s desk and the black board grew so narrow that she had trouble pulling out her chair to sit.

When the light finally came on, she gave us her hands-on-hips perturbed look. We burst into laughter. Only Mrs. Principe got pinched that day.

Apart from awareness and intervention, life gently narrows. One day, you blink and ask, “How did I get in this pinch?”

Where do environments narrow?

How can leaders monitor environments?

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