A Brief History of Names My Students Have Given Me
Guest Post By: Jesse McGrath
I am a public school teacher. You probably already knew that because of the title of the thing you are reading, or because you follow me on social media, or maybe because you have been in the same room as me for longer than four minutes, which is about the amount of time that it takes me to casually bring up my heroics as an educator of America’s youth. As a teacher (which is what I am), I have to put up with a bunch of bullshit.
Everyone knows it’s a thankless job with horrible pay and long hours. What I didn’t anticipate, however, is the ridiculous amount of horrible nicknames students would come up with for me. The following is a small selection of those names from over the last four years. Because there are so many, they have been broken into four categories: Chubby Bearded White Guys, Fictional Characters, Foods, and Wildcard.
Chubby Bearded White Guys
Also: Alan, The guy from the Hangover
This is the first, and most obvious thing a student has ever called me. I have worked at three different schools in two different states and it has never taken longer than three weeks for a group of students to make this connection. The first time it ever happened was before I was even an actual teacher. In fact, I had only been working in a classroom for three days at that point. I was walking through the halls during passing period of the school in South San Francisco where I was doing my student teaching. While I’m walking to the break room, I glance into a classroom and lock eyes with a student that I have never seen before in my life. He immediately shouts “HEY!”, gets out of his seat, and starts charging towards me.
My first thought was: Hm. Maybe teaching was a bad choice. My second thought was: guess I have to fight this kid now.
He comes straight at me full speed, stops no more than six inches from me and barks: “MAN, YOU KNOW YOU LOOK JUST LIKE ALAN FROM THE HANGOVER?!”
This is a 100% true story, and this shit has been happening to me ever since. Children don’t really get enough credit for being straight up the goddamn worst.
Also: The Guy from that Chance Video, The Guy from F*ck That’s Delicious
This has only happened like twice, but I remember it because it’s such a solid reference for an idiot teenager to make. I disagree with it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t respect it.
Also: Peppa’s Dad, Peppa Pig, PE-PA-PIG!
OKAY FINE, IT’S A GOOD ONE. I had never even heard of this cartoon but as soon as he said it, the whole class cheered in agreement. What’s worse: This kid only refers to me as Peppa when in class. Sometimes he will just shout PE-PA-PIG! In the middle of me giving a lesson, for no reason at all, and he has half of the senior class calling me Peppa. If you were to wonder this absolutely qualifies as bullying.
Lazy. Offensive. Inaccurate. Moving on.
A whole group of kids used to address me as Captain Redbeard, and whenever they saw me they would stand at attention and salute. Even if it was sarcastic and made basically no sense, it was the most incredible three months of my life. I’ve never felt more powerful. Then those kids went to college and it has been all downhill from there.
Also: Santa Claus, Saint Nick
Every year when December rolls around some bozo kid thinks he’s a genius by drawing the connection between me and literally the most famous chubby bearded white guy. I wish I could fail kids for being complete hacks.
Also: White bread, White bread with a tomato on top
I recently started teaching at a school that is mostly comprised of Spanish speakers learning English as a new language. This has significantly altered the things that I am called by students, and I have become quite familiar with different ways a Spanish speaker might refer to a white person. The literal translation is “bread roll.” I personally don’t see the resemblance.
Also: McGrizz, McGrizzath
This has less to do with the sandwich and more to do with the similarity of our names. Either way, unacceptable.
Student: *Points to the word hamburger* ¿Qué significa?
Student: *Points to me* You! Hamburger!
Me: No I-
Student: You hamburger! Hamburger!
Also: Ugly, Uglyuglyugly
This girl basically speaks no English at all. Ugly might be the first word she learned (she definitely knows what it means) and she pronounces it oogly. Sometimes in the halls she will just point at me and yell “OOGLYOOGLYOOGLY.” It is unbelievable that a regular part of my job is teenagers just pointing at me and insulting me? And I’m not allowed to do anything about it. The kids are almost worse than the fact that teachers get paid in seeds and berries.
I’m not completely certain on the direct translation for this one, as I have heard conflicting reports from various sources, but it’s something along the lines of “Mr. Shitty” or “Mr. Big Shit” or “This Big Shit Guy”. Not a huge fan of any of those, to be honest.
Hey! An objectively sort of neutral thing to call me! It only took literally this entire list to get to something that wasn’t a direct or implied insult! Someone in New York started this when they couldn’t pronounce my last name. I don’t see how “California” is easier to say than “This Big Shit Guy”, but whatever works.
Also: Mr. Gringo, My Favorite Gringo
I am one of only four white staff members at my school. I am the only staff member at our entire school who isn’t fluent in a language other than English. I have a stupid red beard. I have an ironic tattoo of a regionally specific ice cream sandwich on my arm. When they’re right, they’re right. Soy un Gringo.