The Awful Alibi (Might Change Title)
By Khiem Dam
“Don’t worry, I’ll get it done tonight, you can trust me,” said Joey. It was an ordinary Tuesday at the Grandville Middle School. The third trimester was nearing to a halt. A breeze was flowing in through a window, cooling down the room. Half asleep, I listened to Mr. Burgess, my 7th hour history teacher, explain how our class was to make group presentations on the reform movements that happened throughout US history. We also needed to make a speech along with the presentations that we would give to him when we performed. We had until Friday to finish and present, and this would determine if I got an A in the class or not. Our teacher leaned back in his chair and yawned.
“Now partner up. After you do so, I will let you chose the reformer you will study about,” said Mr. Burgess. In an instant, I somehow caught the swollen and inverted eyes of a classmate who I’ll call, Joseph Boerig. I knew Joey, as he was friends with one of my other friends. It was only natural that we partnered up. As we got in line, I thought about how we would plan out our project. Soon enough, it was our turn. I looked at the list of available reformers Joey and I could choose from.
“Who’s this Horse Man person?” I asked. This had peaked my interest, as Joey resembled the features of a horse, both sharing a long snout, eyes on the sides of their faces, and the ability to fail in the participation of group projects. Surely he would know a lot about Horse Man. However, I’m getting ahead of myself. This Horse Man was actually named Horace Mann, the education reformer of the 17th century, and this was who we were assigned.
“Hey Joey, can you search up info about Horace Mann’s life when he was growing up? I’m gonna start our Google Slides,”
“Sure,” he said, not even giving me a glance. For the rest of the hour, I found sources about our reformer, getting prepared to put information on our presentation, and shared our slides with Mr. Burgess. Joey, on the other hand, was sprawled on his desk, dead asleep listening to the new Little Einsteins remix on his Chromebook. He had no work done as well. Right then and there, I should have recognized that I needed to get out of the situation. Maybe it wouldn’t be too late to switch partners. However, if I were to switch partners, Joey would probably exaggerate what happened to my friends.
“Alright Joey, finish your research tonight,” I said. Joey laid still, un-moving. The bell rung as I went to the bus stop. Half of the project would be done by me, and the other half by Joey.
The next day, Joey was already in class, slumped onto the ground as normal. I wasn’t worried, for I had all of the information I needed to add to my slides. Joey however, was starting to concern me. What if he didn’t do anything yet? What if I get marked down just because he didn’t do his part of the work?
“Hey Joey, did you get information for the project yet?”
“Yeah of course, here I’ll show you.” Relief rushed through me as Joey opened his chromebook. Inside, he had cited all of his sources. But it was only one source. And that source was from Wikipedia. I wish I chose a different partner, for anyone who uses Wikipedia should “reconsider their life choices’, as said by my fourth grade teacher.
“It’s okay Joey, we still have three days left, and this presentation should only take three days. You can find some more sources today,”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I’m saying that you shouldn’t use Wikipedia because it’s unreliable,”
“If you don’t appreciate all the work I’ve done, then why don’t you do this yourself?” I didn’t see any of his work.
“Just add the information on the slides okay? Tomorrow, we have to work on our speech.”
On Thursday, I had put all the facts that I needed about Horace Mann. Joey, once again, was unconscious on the ground, this time, texting on his phone.
“Joey, did you work on the slides?”
“Ooh sorry, I didn’t, but I’ll work on it today.”
“Why couldn’t you do it?”
“Yeah, I didn’t have any WiFi to do it.”
“I have another question, are you on the school WiFi right now to text?”
“No, I’m using my unlimited data”
“What? Then what were you doing, you could have used your unlimited data to actually do our project. You better do it because I’m not gonna do your work for you”
There was silence for a moment between us. His excuse was lacking any form of logic. Then it hit me. He truly didn’t care about the project. Whether we got a good grade on it or not didn’t matter. If I didn’t want to fail, then I would have to do double the work. Then, Mr. Burgess interrupted,
“Okay class, today, we’re working on our speeches. These speeches are for me only, and you won’t have to read them to the class. One more thing to add. When you present, you can’t look at your presentation behind you. You have to memorize your slides or write it on a note card.” I was knocked back into reality. We had one day, half of our presentation, no speech, and we needed to make note cards. That night, I got barely enough sleep. If I was aware of the fact that Joey had an F in this class, then I would have done more of the project ahead of time, or maybe even choose a different partner. Luckily, I finished all of it, including note cards that had all of our information on them.
Friday was the day of presentations. I saw Joey so I asked,
“Hey Joey, did you do the project yet?”
“Nooo, I forgot to do it again.” Joey was covering his face, with a straight face. Why I even asked, I don’t know. Mr. Burgess had planned out the order we were presenting. We were the last ones. I tossed the note cards in his direction, and we planned out the order of what we would say. Joey would say the title and the first half, and I would say the second half. When it was our turn, our teacher opened our Google Slides.
“Okay, you can begin.” said Mr. Burgess. I looked to Joey, who needed to read our title. However he just stood there, staring off into space.
“Education Reformer: Horace Mann,” I said, quite annoyed. Joey snapped back into focus and started reading his slides. The whole time, I was helping him pronounce words he didn’t know. After a while, Joey stopped reading, so I had to read 90% of it. When we finished, we somehow got a perfect score. This mostly had to do with the grading being on our information, and not our performance.
When class was over, I dragged myself to the bus stop. That day, I learned an important lesson. Be careful who you do group projects with, for you might end up with a partner with a long snout, eyes on the sides of his face, and the ability to fail in the participation of group projects.