One of the most enduring memories about my high school career was my 11th grade English term paper.

The teacher was a certain Mr. Martin, a man of significant age and wisdom. I had joined the class midway through the first semester, however, which seemed to vex him to no end, as I had no idea whatsoever about some of the policies that he instituted.

I had been out with the flu for 6 days, and when I returned, on the day that paper was due, there was a certain hysteria between me and him as to whether or not I should have had it in at that point or not. Tensions escalated, and as it turned out, he gave me a zero on the paper. I won't drudge the details.

The parental backlash came next, and to save my own ass I opted to ask for a Parent/Teacher Meeting to hopefully shift some of the blame onto him, as opposed to me. At this point, I was oblivious that an E in the third quarter of a possible English major's transcript was not exactly, well, appealing.

The interesting thing coming into the meeting was that both me and Mr. Martin were playing it defensive. Under the watchful eye of a parent and a guidance counselor, we both saved our best cards.

That was, until, he chuckled.

I had just stated a fact, something to the effect of "..3 days late, maybe?" and the chuckle infuriated me. The resulting vehemence and raw anger that I lashed back with was not exactly tactful. I went to my trump card - that he had given better grades to people that had blatantly plagiarized their papers, to which my articulate, yet late, term paper was defiled with the red zero of doom.

I stormed out of the meeting with a certain feeling of defeat, because I knew that I had doomed myself with the outburst. I sat outside on the bench and left the three inside to decide my fate.

After a few minutes, Mr. Martin hesitantly walked over and sat down next to me. He smiled at me with a certain candor and murmured, "Even though you called me an idiot, I still respect your honor about plagiarism."

Somewhere around there I realized that English teachers deal with anger much better than any other authority figures.