Mancho’s Thanksgiving
02 December, 2010
Mancho’s Thanksgiving

My friend Mancho is not known to like children. Last year Mancho’s job at the university as a lab technician was cut to shorter hours. To make up the difference in her pay she considered becoming a private tutor to high school students. She briefly flirted with teaching physics, but gave up after a spectacularly bad student made her loose all faith in her teaching abilities. After a day of sulking she went back to work and found that her

abilities to teach math, especially trigonometry, were by far better than her abilities to teach physics.
Today she has a part time job as a math tutor, yet she still really doesn’t like her students. At least that’s what she tells anyone who listens - mainly me. The students, on the other hand, when not abused by her, seem to hang on her every word. She is somewhat a capable teacher; her students do improve their grades, and she has been getting a reputation of a respectable person. Myself, and those who know her personally, know better.
A friend of mine has an eight-year-old son who could not do multiplications. The concept of multiplication just eluded him. His mother tried to explain it to him, so did his father, but the teachers at school started to wonder if maybe he was supposed to be in a class for children with Special Needs. My friend was not happy about the idea, and thought of trying anything to help her son avoid being labeled “Special” in his school. So she asked me for Mancho’s number. I was totally honest with her, I described Mancho’s abusive character and her tendency of taking out her own frustrations on her students, (she had ripped a chunk of a kid’s hair out once when she was having a particularly bad day) but none of this registered with my friend. It’s a bit disturbing how willing some parents are to hand over their children to a sadistic teacher.
Anyway, this boy, we shall call him George, to protect his identity (You never know what a person will become as a grown up - a child with a speech impediment could be the next Winston Churchill, and a child unable to use math could grow up to be a Senator in the US Congress), George started to take classes from Mancho and was alive to tell his mom about it a week later. I was surprised. I had assumed the kid would be dead meat in a matter of days, but he stuck it out to the very end. And the end came two weeks into the studying.
It was the day before Thanksgiving and George was studying at Mancho’s place. They had taken a break and Mancho went into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. As soon as she turned on the coffee machine she heard a scream so high pitched that for a brief moment she wondered if a Soprano had appeared in her apartment. It was not a Soprano, but George, who had somehow gotten his hands on a pair of scissors and cut his finger so deep that blood was gushing out. Mancho in her calm voice marched George over to the sink and washed off his blood. That was when they screamed together. Mancho could see the fat coming out of the cut, but George couldn’t understand what that was and kept screaming at Mancho to take it out. All of the sudden Mancho, in a flashback to the times when she used to stay at her grandmother’s in the country, remembered the moments how she would fry the homegrown delicious chickens that were covered in healthy yellow colored fat. Not an image Mancho wanted to associate with her students bleeding finger. It looked like cauliflower crown was growing out of the cut. In short it was disgusting, and Mancho immediately felt helpless. The only thing Mancho could think of was pushing the fat back in. George was all for it. The wound was very small, lengthwise, but deep. Fat was still kind of peeking out of it. So Mancho looked up Urgent Care on the internet, facebooked me about her ‘idiot cauliflower George’, called his father to meet them at the urgent care unit, and boarded a bus.
And that’s how they ended up in Downtown L.A at 8:30 pm, the night before Thanksgiving.
They had to walk for 25 minutes. Mancho being the mean person that she is, did not miss this opportunity to scare the living hell out of an eight year old by telling him that he will most likely get 50 stitches, and that if he survived, they would probably get murdered in this part of town anyway. George wisely chose not to reply, but his eyes grew large enough to occupy seventy percent of his face. They made it alive to the urgent care.
There were no stitches required, but they did give George a tetanus shot. He was so traumatized that when Mancho told him he had a choice of reciting the entire multiplication table to her or getting another tetanus shot, this time with a much bigger needle, he recited the table without stopping for a breath. Even Mancho was impressed. When she had handed George over to his father later that night, she was even more surprised when instead of getting angry at her, the father thanked her for helping George and asked if she would consider staying on as a tutor for a little while longer.
It was a happy Thanksgiving at Mancho’s place. She was grateful for food, drink, a roof over her head, her friends and even for her students who brought her headaches and compensated for them with money.  Most importantly she was thankful there were no cauliflowers on the table.

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