(Copyright 2000. The Tattoo. All rights reserved.)

The Tattoo

--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---

August 21, 2000

It's not what you know, kid, it's all about who you know

By Joe Wilbur

The Tattoo

Face front, new recruits -- you're on the front lines of
secondary education now. If you want to survive, memorize
these contacts -- useful people you will meet along the way
-- and, when you've finished, eat this article.

1) SECRETARIES: Secretaries have been more useful to me
in my high school career than any teacher or administrator.

These women are, almost without exception, friendly,
accommodating, and very well-connected people. If you need
something  a name, a number, a transcript, a stapler -- they
can get it for you. They know, hear and see everything.

If you treat them kindly, show them you're an all right person
and just struggling to get through your day, they'll more than
likely help you along or point the right way when you're in a

2) LIBRARIANS: You'd be surprised at how useful the
school library's going to be.

Sure, it's the computer age, you can do all your research from
home -- well, think again. Inevitably, you will find yourself
in the library, under the command of a teacher who wants to
make sure you're not leaving it all for the last night (admit it
-- you would ). 

Do you know how to use PowerPoint? To operate the
school's ZAP ME! Computers? You probably shouldn't have
to,  but there will be a teacher who requires it. When this
happens, the librarian is going to be your best

3) CUSTODIANS: Like secretaries, custodians are
resourceful, generally outgoing people with thankless jobs.
They're also a lot more powerful than you give them credit

hink about it -- they know where everything is, they have
every key, have access to every supply, and they spend most
of their days just cleaning things up and taking things in.
They're wellsprings of knowledge and ability -- and usually
pretty interesting people, too.

more familiar with the state of technology in our schools,
you'll realize three things:
a) There's not a lot of it.
b) It's not always the best or most advanced equipment
c) It doesn't always work the way it should. Or at all.

Business teachers generally know what's working and what
isn't, and have access to the good stuff. Tech teachers have
all the best equipment as the drafting courses are taught

If you're not taking one of their courses, make it a point to
meet them anyway -- they'll save your life more than once
before you graduate.

5) CAFETERIA PERSONNEL: Another underrated,
under-appreciated job mostly by kind, patient people -- they'd
have to be -- they put up with hundreds of hungry pubescent
goons throughout four lunch waves every day. 

Do right by them (no stealing, swearing, making a mess or
generally being difficult) and they'll make sure you get by
with everything you need as quickly as possible in a situation
(THE LUNCH CRUNCH) that is utter chaos no matter how
you look at it.

6) PEOPLE WITH WALKIE-TALKIES: Like the cell phone
among the student population, the walkie-talkie is a sort of
functional status symbol among the staff.

People with walkie-talkies have them because they've been
deemed important enough to call when things need to be
done or important enough to hear about those things being

A good tip: to avoid being stopped and questioned by
walkie-talkie people in the hallway, make direct eye contact,
smile, maybe even wave. Chances are, even if you have
something to hide, they won't question you if you don't look
like trouble.

High school is war and war is hell. These people are your
comrades in arms -- you watch their backs, they'll watch
yours. Make them enemies and, if you graduate, you'll be
limping up to receive your diploma full of shrapnel, the
ringing in your ears drowning out "Pomp and Circumstance."