DO NOT DRINK Water Fountain at Baltimore Polytechnic High School

do not drinkI love not having a car, but Friday was one of those days when having a car would have been kinda great. I had an appointment up in Roland Park and then had to be out in the suburbs at UMBC and then back in Roland Park to judge an evening debate tournament. And I was out of coffee. In a car, I just would have made the rounds, but on a bike it felt like climbing hill after hill after hill, always needing to leave a little early to get to the next thing on time. And I didn’t have a chance to get coffee until 1:30 in the afternoon, on my way home to swap Brompty back out for the Surly. But you know what? As I climbed up Roland Avenue for the second time, I realized how lucky it is to want to ride my bike, to take such joy in the feel of it all, and to live in a body that lets me do it. And then I made it to my last stop,  got a quick refresher on what it is we’re supposed to be judging when we judge debate, and choked down some pizza before bringing my timer and fine point pen to the third floor classrooms at Baltimore Polytechnic High School at Cold Spring and Falls Road for some really smart arguing (and some soon-to-be-with-more-practice smart arguing). Between round I wandered the halls, looking to fill up my water bottle. The drinking fountains all had big signs warning us not to drink from them, and the bathroom sinks had signs above them reminding us not to do anything but wash our hands in there–guess we have to pee in the toilet at Poly–and the stalls were out of paper. I’m sure this is normal here, but that’s the disturbing part: that even what’s there doesn’t work right. At least this school had a couple of water coolers stationed around, so I guess there’s that. As I write this, I find myself wanting to talk about how resilient kids are, how the Poly kids I saw debate were smart, capable, and headed to UMBC next fall to major in computer science, how the sign above the “don’t drink” sign was for the Baltimore Algebra Project, a most awesome group of social justice mathletes that has clearly made itself at home here. But I guess I’m tired of kids having to prove themselves resilient; I want them to take all the time they spend being resilient and turn it in to time spent just talking about the issues that they raised in the rounds. They’re onto something. And then I rode home, properly worn out with that sharp tinge of self righteous satisfaction, because I did it all on my own two wheels.



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