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Alligator on the Sidewalk (?!?)

May 17, 2022

In teaching, you never know.

Today, for me, it was alligator on the sidewalk.

Mid-morning, I was in the hallway that exits to the baseball field. I was collecting aluminum cans, which I do daily in order to leave them by my driveway for a special needs neighbor to collect each morning, like many of my neighbors do.

The students happened to be on a break prior to taking an exam, so the hallways became crowded. I thought I would wait it out by seeking cans in the quiet outside, behind the hallway and next to the baseball field.

Upon exiting the building and turning to walk on the sidewalk between the building and the rear of the visitor’s dugout, I saw a 4-foot alligator facing me 20 feet away on the sidewalk, just as still as could be.

Compliments of Mrs. Bostick

I thought it was a prank. This could not be real.

I took two steps forward, and as I did so, the prank adjusted its head.

Oh.

So, there we are, just me and Alligator Surprise. I can’t leave. I have to stay here. Just beyond me, behind the doorway where I had just exited, is a hallway full of students oblivious to this surprising development, and I needed to keep them oblivious so that they would not rush outside.

But I needed assistance. I moved to the doorway and held the door, watching for another faculty member.

Also about 20 feet away, the band director emerges from the bandroom and joins kid-filled hallway.

“Mr Wild,” (he turns toward me) “I need you to come here NOW.” And I don’t move.

He looks at me quizzically but slowly begins to walk in my direction.

I’m trying not to blurt it out to loudly. By now, Mr. Wild is within a few feet of me in this busy hallway.

“There’s an alligator on the sidewalk. I need an administrator.”

Some kids hear me. Mr. Wild replies, “You’re kidding.”

“Not kidding.”

From Mrs. Bostick’s classroom. I and others were further up the sidewalk to the right of this shot.

Mr. Wild steps outside with me, and a few students try to come, but I tell them to stay inside, and I close the door.

Mr. Wild tries to phone the office but is having troble getting through. I open the door to find a hovering student whom I know, and tell him, “Go to the office and tell the administration I need them to come here now.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Wild also gets through to a front office staff member.

Pretty soon, two administrators, our campus police officer and an additional officer, and custodial backup show up. Meanwhile, the students are itching to see this alligator, still 20 feet away, and, fortunately, still almost completely motionless.

One student puts forth his most polite-rehearsed voice in unintentionally-comical monotone: “Please, may I come outside to see the alligator?”

I had backup enough, so I told the phone-wielding mass, “Okay. You may stand on this pavement and get you pics.” No one tried to rush forward, or be the foolish, alligator-approaching center of attention. I gave them their moment to witness and record our guest and then sent them back inside.

We had a few waves of students wanting pictures, and all behaved.

Within the hour, animal control came with a steel catch pole and a large pet carrier. By this time, our alligator decided to leave the sidewalk and curl up next to the brick wall below a colleague’s classroom. (That would be Mrs. Bostick, who calmly opened her classroom window and snapped the pics included with this post.) The decision to move next to the wall in a corner of sorts made capturing this gator easier.

Curled up in a corner convenient for capture, right below Mrs. Bostick’s classroom.

Throughout our time outside, conversations went thusly:

“That’s just a baby.”

Four feet long.

“Well, maybe not a baby.”

I’m glad our guest had not made it further up the sidewalk before our encounter, and I’m glad I discovered this surprise before any students did.

I also look forward to a boring tomorrow by comparison.

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4 Comments
  1. Christine Langhoff permalink

    There’s a metaphor in here!

  2. speduktr permalink

    Seriously, this is the kind of distraction that is welcome at the end of the year. Well, not in my neck of the woods (northern Illinois). A four foot alligator would have been more than a photo op.

  3. Oh, sorry. He escaped from our neighborhood school. He’s the Allen at Steinbeck Gator! Check out the logo in the upper left corner: https://allen.sjusd.org/
    I don’t teach there, but my kids went to school there! The resemblance is uncanny. We’ll get a better lock. ; )

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