‘OH MY GOD,’ I heard. ‘Hmm?’ I looked up from my computer. ‘THERE’S A MAN POOPING OUTSIDE.’: Teacher shares heartbreaking realization ‘all schools are not created equal’

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Spotting The Poop Incident

“Alright, buckle up kiddos. I am about to tell you about the weirdest thing that ever happened to me as a teacher. In fact, it’s probably the weirdest thing that has happened to me ever.

It was a beautiful day in sunny California. I was a first-year special education teacher just trying to survive. Between managing a lunch/break schedule for 11 teacher’s assistants and trying to make sure that all of my students were taken care of, I was usually running on 6 cups of coffee a day and a plan that never actually worked.

It was stressful. The kids were worth it.

I was working at a Title I Elementary School in California. Imagine the most beautiful building, with white pillars and a garden in the front to welcome parents as they dropped their children off. Now—just picture the opposite of that and that is what this school looked like. The classrooms were old, dirty, and just plain gross. The whole school looked like a prison, mainly because there was a giant fence around the whole thing to keep random people from walking around the campus. My classroom (the special education classroom) was the only classroom in the whole school that did not get new desks and furniture that year. Three years later and I am still salty about that…

Despite all of this, most of the teachers were incredible, passionate, and loving. The staff rallied together every year to try to provide the best for their students. We all knew those kids deserved better. We always tried our best to make the school a safe and fun environment for our students.

My portable classroom was backed up by a large fence. Behind that fence was a small alleyway. I had a large window in my classroom that directly faced the alleyway.

On that particular day, I was sitting at my desk stressing out over the schedule. Many people had called off work unexpectedly and I was trying to figure out how I was going to give everyone a lunch break. One of my students jumped on the mini trampoline in the corner of my classroom. He had a 1:1 aide that was with him and they both enjoyed looking out the window during his sensory time.

‘OH MY GOD,’ I heard.

‘Hmm?’ I looked up from my computer.

‘THERE’S A MAN POOPING OUTSIDE,’ Shannon gasped. (Her name wasn’t really Shannon.)

The Aftermath

I lunged from my desk and ran to the window while Shannon grabbed the student and tried to cover his eyes. This was a very difficult feat because that particular student loved looking out the window. It was his favorite thing to do.

Shannon pulled the student away from the window. The student was pointing at that window, clearly indicating that he wanted to look outside more at the mysterious man. Oh god, how am I going to explain this to his parents?!

I finally reach the window, and sure enough, there is a man taking a sh*t five feet from my window. He is smiling at us. A weird, creepy smile.

Shannon is now on the phone calling the office to see what we should do. The office tells us that they have called the cops and to stay inside the classroom with the door locked.

At this point, I am desperately trying to close my window blinds so that none of my other students get a glimpse of this smiling, pooping, classroom crasher. However, if you remember what I said at the beginning of this blog post—the classrooms were old and everything sucked. As I was trying to put the blinds down, they broke. THEY BROKE.

PANIC—the blinds aren’t going down. Shannon and I start trying to staple construction paper over the very large window. The man is still smiling and standing over a fresh load of dung. Then, he starts to well…he starts to touch himself.

The staples aren’t holding the construction paper up. Where’s the tape? Where’s the TAPE?!

Shannon and I are freaking out…

The dung deliverer won’t leave. He just keeps playing with his thing.

I do not get paid enough for this. I do not get paid enough for this. I do not get paid enough for this.

We all hid out in the classroom for about two hours until the cops arrived. I eventually covered the entire window with construction paper—although it took a very long time. They arrested the man and took a statement from all of the staff.

School Inequality

When I tell this story to my friends, they usually cry with laughter. It’s a funny story, isn’t it? I mean, how often does a man poop and masturbate outside an elementary school? One for the books.

However, what I don’t tell people is how much that day bothered me. You see, no matter how much people want to scream that everyone is given equal opportunities for success in life, I know for a fact that this is not true. The children who went to that school were not given the same opportunities as the children I taught in the suburbs. Instead of new books, the school invested money into a free lunch program. I spent my $100 yearly classroom budget the first month of school buying snacks for my students that did not have any.

We used broken crayons because I couldn’t afford to buy new ones. There were no extracurriculars like art or music. Regular teachers were expected to create gym lessons twice a week for students because the district couldn’t afford to hire an actual P.E teacher, but by law, the school was still required to offer P.E. The students went home to parents who worked multiple jobs to make ends meet and didn’t have time to help them with their homework.

The kids deserved better than a dirty old trailer backed up into an alleyway that people pooped and masturbated in. I know that if they were my children, I wouldn’t feel comfortable sending them to a school where things like that happened. Of course, that isn’t something you are allowed to say when you actually work there. That’s how you get fired.

But that day bothered me in more ways than one. You see, I was also bothered by the man. I remember the cops walking him out of the school. He had large holes in his pants, his white shirt was so dirty that it looked brown, and his hair had formed natural dreadlocks. He must not have showered for months. He was obviously homeless.

When I saw him, I became terrified for the longevity of my student’s protection from the outside world. Did that man have special needs? Did he have a family? How many people living on the streets have mental illnesses and no family to turn to? That man masturbated in public, but I have students with special needs who have done the same thing in class. My students get a social story, long talks about appropriate behavior, and compassion. This man got arrested.

I am sure there are people who would argue that the man did not have special needs. They will say he was on drugs. Maybe? I don’t know him, but I do know that situations like this are never just black and white I was anxious for the cops to take him away because I wanted to protect my students from somebody who could have been dangerous, but I also felt guilty because I didn’t want to be the cause of somebody getting arrested. I laugh when I think about how strange and odd the situation was, but I also cry because I never want anybody that I love to end up like that. I was disgusted that there was a pile of shit and semen left outside my classroom in the alleyway for weeks until the rain washed it away, but I also thought about how sad it was that the man did not have a private area to do his business. Every story can be told from a multitude of perspectives. Every tale can make you feel a variety of different emotions.

So that is the story about the time a man pooped outside my classroom. It’s funny, but it’s also sad. I will never forget that moment in my life—because it was one of the moments that made me realize that even in one of the greatest countries in the world, there are inequities that our children face every day. Just because the government provides free education to all students, doesn’t mean that all schools are created equal. Some kids get fun parties and cupcakes provided by the PTO, and some kids get to watch homeless men poop outside their classrooms.

My only wish–a fear really, that seems to keep me up at night– is that I never see any of my students on the other side of that fence.”

woman taking a selfie in her car
Courtesy of Lisa Carnett

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lisa Carnett. You can follow her journey on InstagramFacebook, and blogSubmit your own story here, and be sure to subscribeto our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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