Skip to content

The Fisher of Stories



Alicia: “One of the Baptist Childrens’ Home kids wants a Fitbit watch…and this one wants shampoo and conditioner.”
God save this world.
— Travis Sloat (@tstyles77) November 22, 2016

That’s the tweet that finally sparked this, just to let everyone know. I’ve been meaning to post this since November 10, but I’ve just never gotten around to it, and hearing those words come out of my wife’s mouth this evening, it finally consumed me.

Earlier this year, in October, I was asked to guest blog on a site called Blue Cereal Education, an education blog based here in Oklahoma. I wrote this post. In it, I told everyone that no matter what Oklahomans voted on State Question 779, I’d be fine, and I’d show up the next day at work with a smile on my face.

I lied.

As I stayed up later and later on November 8, it became very clear that Oklahomans had made their voices very clear on a tax increase…no matter how good of a cause it was for. I fumed, and then I fumed more, and finally I went to bed entirely too late, incensed at you people for checking no instead of yes.

I googled the rate of pay for teachers in Arkansas, then Florida, and Kansas before finally my own words drifted through my head.

“I’ll die here or retire here.” 

So much for that, right?

So on that Thursday, November 10, we had a blood drive at my school. As a teacher, I find it crucial to take time out of my day to give blood, ostensibly extending my planning period by two hours and helping me avoid the after-lunch rush of freshmen.

I’m kidding.

But I did decide to donate, and things went swimmingly. Another teacher so graciously covered my ninth grade class, but not before snapping a picture of me and another student…a student who I love more than I’d care to admit, who is part of a family who I’ve known my entire thirty-four years of life.

Here’s the pic.

Obviously a real intense moment, a moment full of caring and love.

The teacher who was covering my class (who is a math teacher)—instead of just sitting them down and boring them to tears for an hour—took matters into her own hands and threw the picture up on the SmartBoard, then had them write a short essay describing what was happening in the scene (still think we should step it up, Fallin?).

I walked back into her classroom towards the end of the period, and the entire class looked up from their projects and began to laugh. I glanced up at the SmartBoard and put two and two together, and I smiled. The other teacher began to tell me what was happening, and had all the students gather their work and hand it to me. What followed was one of the best moments of my short eighteen-month teaching career.

Sometimes, I feel like I am blessed with moments of happiness so pure, so distilled, that they’re meant never to be forgotten. Moments where you smile, you laugh, you cry, and then laugh again as you’re wiping tears and snot all over your face just so you can see what you’re consuming.

So as I was wiping tears and snot all over my face, I read the following gems. Now listen up: I know the spelling is atrocious, and I know the grammar is bad. We’re working on it. As much as I’d like to be an actual miracle worker, I’m not, but I’m a damn fine teacher, and we’re working on it. So judge or judge not, but as the great Ricky from Sunnyvale would say: “Make my words,” if you make a comment about the spelling or grammar, I will scour your Facebook feed with all that I am and will bring your every error to light. These are my kids. Enjoy this like I did.

Her story is done, y’all.
Me being in birth was a popular theme, maybe I should work on my blood giving pose?
For the record, you could wax my legs smooth and not notice any difference. I am not a hairy guy.
If this kid only knew how many times I’ve looked like this because I’ve eaten something that isn’t good for me.
Hey, my reputation went down the drain when I publicly admitted to crying over your stories.
Again with the leg waxing, is this a natural position for leg waxing?
I died a noble death, much like the late Albus Dumbledore. Harry Potter reference achieved.
I can’t figure out if I want to hug this kid or accidentally punch her in the neck. MR. SLOAT OUT.
Well, I mean, doesn’t everyone poop like this? Just me? Let’s just forget this one.
*crickets* mmmmm Nacho Day.

There were so many more, one actually said it looked like I’d just heard all the Destiny servers went down (I brayed like a donkey), a few more about waxing, a few more about pooping, a bunch more about giving birth, and then a few solid hundred about how noble and brave I looked (just kidding they were about pooping).
If you’re a student, you keep reading. Everyone else get out of here after this paragraph. This is my response to you voting whatever you did on SQ779, and I’m through talking about that now. I understand your reasoning, and I’m sorry for lying to you, but “make my words,” it was a small stumble along a long and loyal path that will end with my death or retirement from Okay Public Schools. I don’t blame you. Now go. Young person, keep reading.
Thank you.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for taking time out of your day to make me laugh, and to make me feel loved (YOU LOVE ME I’M TELLING ALL YOUR FRIENDS). You gave me a moment I will remember for the rest of my life, and a story I’ll tell future students, some of which might even be your kids. Thank you. You are amazing, you are a gifted writer, you are a great human being, and these stories will stay in a box for me to pull out and remind myself just how much I love this job. You did that. You are responsible for my continued happiness. Thank you.
Now do your dang research paper. I’ll see you Monday, and we’ll act like this never happened.
Love you. Hey y’all.

I’m on vacation this week, chillin’ in Destin, Florida.

I’m getting a searing sunburn already.

I am absolutely certain I’ll be inspired to write something, but in case I don’t, we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming in a week or so.

I’m going to buy a fishing pole and a temporary license, and I’m going to pull something out of the Gulf this week. You have my word on that.
I saw a dolphin right up on the beach this morning. I sincerely hope it was a dolphin.
I am still deathly afraid of seaweed.
The drive down here almost gave me a stroke.
I saw some lizards this morning, just hanging out on our fence. They flashed red throats at me, and I pretty much ran away. I saw that movie. It was called Jurassic Park, and Newman died.
I’m down here with my amazing family, my brother and his amazing family, another amazing family from our Sunday School class, and Jennie.
I plan on shorting the Gulf several hundred shrimp during my time here. Since Brad (The Groom) is with me, they’ve probably gone on the endangered species list.
The last time I was here, I was in the middle of The Mistake. Last night, I kissed The Missus while standing in the ocean, looked at her, and said, “I’ve been waiting five years to do that.” I know, I’m such a romantic.
For some folks, happiness is hard to define. My daughter just walked outside with my niece, and our friend’s kid Hudson. My niece was in the cutest little swimsuit, and my daughter looked at me and said, “Daddy, can we go down to the beach and catch some crabs tonight?” Then Hudson got right in my face, smiled and said, “We’re going to catch some crabs!”
I am so happy.