In third grade my teacher was Mrs. Rubenstein. I could be dreaming but I think it was Helen Rubenstein.

I don’t think Mrs. Rubenstein was living her dream spending her days at Rhoda Street Elementary School in a room filled with third graders. My memories of her consist solely of her screeching at us about one thing or the other.

One of her favorite tirades had to do when someone forgot something. For example, if someone didn’t have a pencil. She’d say: “Does a carpenter go to work without his hammer?” I guess this was her way of teaching us about responsibility.

All these years later I still can hear that screechy voice of hers when I don’t have a pencil. “Dang, stupid me. Does a carpenter go to work without his hammer?” Or when an attorney calls me for messages and can’t find a pen, I always want to say, “Does a carpenter go to work without his hammer?”

Another memory I have of her is one time, about 10 minutes before the bell, I started to peel an orange under my desk where no one could see. Mrs. R. could smell it and proceeded to go off, “Who’s eating an orange? We’re all hungry here. We’d all like a snack. But we’re all waiting. Who’s the person who can’t wait?”

Like I’d sacrifice myself to the humiliation of that caterwauling. Thankfully the bell rang and me and my orange skedaddled.

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