Memories · The Last Half Century

Assumed Identity

Few people know this, but there was a brief moment in my life when I lived under an assumed identity. I wasn’t myself, but someone else. It started innocently enough, but it didn’t take long for me to realize I was in over my head. Let me explain.

When I was in high school in the last millennium, I would go to my first hour class and drop off my books. I would then walk across the hall to visit with my friends in another classroom before the bell rang to signal the start of classes. One day I saw that we had a substitute teacher in my class. When I went across the hall, I saw that my friends also had a substitute. The wheels in my head began to turn.

“Let’s switch classes and names,” I whispered to my friends. “Just tell the sub you’re whoever you switch with.” Everyone looked at each other for a moment, but there were no takers. Then the bell rang and I stood up to go to my class. Suddenly I felt someone grab my arm. I turned to see Charlie staring at me. “I’ll do it. You and I switch.” A second later Charlie left the classroom and instantly I had a new identity.

I sat in Charlie’s seat and the substitute teacher closed the door and started class. For the next hour, I was no longer myself. When the teacher took attendance, I promptly said, “Here!” when she called Charlie’s name. My friends snickered and the teacher gave a suspicious look, then continued reading names. A few minutes later the teacher began the lesson. That’s when I realized I was in an Algebra class. Unlike Charlie, I was not a math whiz.

When the lesson was done, we were given a worksheet with problems to solve before the end of class. As I stared at the sheet, I quickly realized I had a big problem — a whole sheet of them that I had no clue how to solve. I was horrible in math which is why I was in the business class across the hall and not in Charlie’s math class. I stared at the worksheet, unsure what to do. If I guessed at the answers, Charlie would get a bad grade. If I didn’t do it, he would get in trouble.

To my relief, the substitute let us take the worksheet home to finish and hand in the next day. The bell rang and I was never more relieved to be myself again. I met up with Charlie in the hall and gave him his worksheet. He handed me my assignment and some notes from my class. I apologized that he had to do the whole worksheet, but he laughed. “Don’t worry about it. That was so much fun!” Charlie said as he slapped my shoulder. “They never suspected.”

I thanked him and we went our separate ways to our next class. For a moment in my awkward high school years I was glad to be myself.

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