The auditorium was full of kids deemed "good" by the Powers That Be. They were consequently being "rewarded" with a movie in the auditorium, but since this was close to twenty years ago, the movie was shown on two TVs and our seats were in the back, making it hard to see or hear whatever was showing. I sat in the back with Thao, one of my wonderful students, who ignored the microscopic reward movie and took the opportunity to tell me all about whom she liked, and why, and all the various details that make up ninth grade girl drama.
As she went on nonstop in that inimitable ninth grade girl way, a stranger we presumed to be a substitute strode purposely toward us. "Young ladies, keep it down," he sternly urged. "Sorry, sir," we replied. Thao inhaled, and off she went again, but a bit more sotto voce.
Five minutes later, Stern Substitute came back, brow further furrowed, and he addressed me exclusively: "Young lady, you have done nothing but talk the whole time you've been here. It is time for you to go back to your class." Mind you, I had only said a few words the whole time ("Really?" "Wow." "No, what?"), but I grabbed my sweater and keys and stood. "Where are you going?" asked Thao, shocked that I was obeying Stern Substitute. "To my class," I shrugged, and as I headed out the door, the auditorium was filled with greetings from all the angels quieter than Thao: "Bye Miss M! Where are you going?"
I at 25 had just been mistaken for a 15 year old girl.
Later, SS found me in my class after school, surrounded by students. He apologized beautifully, and then ruined it by saying, " You have to admit, you WERE talking quite a bit!" I just smiled, but have always remembered both his huge error, his humility in seeking me out to apologize, and his persistence in his original mistaken belief. I try to keep this in mind when I am supervising--not that I have sent adults to class, but that maybe what I think I'm seeing isn't as accurate as I believe it to be.