The history assignment was to choose a person of the past who was not famous, but had made a significant difference to the lives of the people around that person, also a minimum of 2000 words. Finally, the mathematics assignment was 4 pages of mathematical puzzles. Each one had to have the correct answer, plus the method of how I came to that answer.
The maths was the hardest of all the assignments, so I decided to tackle that one first and got to work on it right away. After an hour, I had completed about a third of the assignment, so I went to the kitchen for some morning tea and I was able to stretch my stiff joints.
Returning to the office to continue on my assignments, I changed subjects and went online to do some research on insects. Eventually after looking at over a dozen insects I chose the stick insect. I wrote down its scientific name, its common name and began getting into more detail of this unusual creature.
Over an hour and a half later, after printing them out, I placed over a dozen pages of information in a manila folder and added the assignment sheet to it. I put it to one side. Going back to the mathematics, I was able to get a lot more completed before being called to the dining table for lunch by Gran.
“For one of my assignments I have to find three people of different social, ethnic and religious backgrounds and do a study on their lives. Then I have to do a report on the difference in each of their lives comparing them to each other. Gramps how am I supposed to find three people like that?” I asked between mouthfuls of Gran’s delicious cold meatloaf and fresh salad.
Gramps thought about this for a moment before replying. “Grandson, how about you ask the minister down at our local church? I’m sure Reverend Fischer would be able to come up with some suggestions, as there is quite a variety of people from different countries that are in the congregation,” he said to me.
“Thank you, Gramps. I knew you would be able to help,” I replied with a big smile, before continuing with my meal.
On finishing my food, I looked up at Gramps. “Another assignment I have to do is write a report about a person who is not famous but has made a significant difference in the lives of people around them,” I said, unsure if Gramps could answer this one.
“Ah, now that one I can help you with,” Gramps said and continued the story.” There is a true story of a man who came from overseas and moved to Australia with his parents and sister, a bit like your dad, but he was still a young lad. He had to finish his education, which he did in the booming mining town they lived in and at boarding school in the city.”
Gramps went on to tell me several details about the man; how he had worked on a cattle station and then joined up with the Australian Imperial Force when World War I broke out and where he had served. He told me about how he had been wounded, became a captain, received the DSO and MC for bravery.
“Back in Australia after the war, he received a returned-serviceman grant for land in the south of the state, and virtually on his own he cleared the land by hand. He met and married his bride, and they settled in their home that he built along with help from some of his neighbours. He worked hard and long hours. His wife gave birth to their first child, a son, and a couple years later they had a daughter, and a second daughter three years later.”
Gramps went on to say that when World War II broke out this man was in his early 40’s. He had left his family to go and serve his country yet again, but this time with promotion to the rank of major. He told how he had ended up fighting in the jungles of Papua New Guinea and the legendary Kokoda Track to keep the Japanese from invading Northern Australia.
“By this stage this brave man had reached the rank of brigadier, but now he was not only fighting the enemy, he was also having a war with the senior officers of the Australian Forces, who were not aware of the difficult terrain, the heat, humidity, the diarrhoea, malaria, the lack of food and supplies that his men were having to do without. A fighting withdrawal was the way to overcome a lot of these problems. It brought his men back closer to Port Moresby where the supplies were easier to get and it took the enemy away from their supply lines, making it harder for them to fight.”
Gramps said this action taken by the brigadier was regarded by many as having saved Port Moresby and Australia from enemy invasion, but those higher up the chain of command had regarded it as disobeying orders. As a result the brigadier was sent unceremoniously away from his troops to serve on the mainland, training and conditioning troops for jungle warfare.
Gramps went on to say; “I have read about this brave man, Grandson. This is a true story, one that has been told to me by a friend from the Isle of Man, where this brave soldier was born. Go to the library and research him. You will find plenty of information if you look hard enough.”
I was so intrigued by this story I knew that it was the story that needed to be retold. I helped Gran with washing and drying the dishes before returning to the office to make some notes of the story Gramps had just told me, and the notes I needed to research for the other two assignments. By the end of the week I had completed all five assignments, and Gramps had driven to the school to deliver them to the teachers for marking. It was an anxious wait for me and my grandparents to find out what the results were for the assignments.
Finally, the results came via mail in a big yellow envelope. I was so nervous I couldn’t open the envelope so I passed it to Gramps. Gran sat next to me and held on to my hand for reassurance, but it didn’t stop me from shaking from the nerves and stress of not knowing I had done.
Gramps passed the paper inside to me. It read:
“Assignment Results – Grant Wellstead”
English AScience B+Social Science B+ Mathematics A History A + Distinction
A note at the bottom of the results read:
“Well done, Grant.
I am very happy with these results. Congratulations. Very interested in your History subject. Look forward to hearing more about it.Mrs D.”
Gramps and Gran hugged me and kissed me on the cheek, as they were very proud of their grandson, but I just went very red in the face from embarrassment. With the assignments out of the way, I now had a bit of spare time to concentrate on the business work before the start of the new school term, which was not that far away.
The trucking business was doing well, but there were a few areas that I was not happy about. Firstly, the drivers were not getting enough rest breaks when on long distance trips, and, secondly, the trucks were having too many regular mechanical problems which then put deliveries behind.
I asked Mr Hill to have one truck at a time taken out of service and sent to a specialist truck repair & service company for a full service and to repair anything that was looking too worn out. While this was done the inside cabin was to be upgraded to have better air-conditioning, a large car fridge and small screen TV with DVD player installed.
Hidden away at the back of a storage locker, a tracking system was installed to monitor truck movements to ensure the drivers were going only to locations they were assigned to, and that they were having the correct amount of rest time.
With a slight increase in pay rates and an extra week of paid holidays, the morale at the trucking company staff was much improved, which increased productivity substantially. Mr Hill and myself were both happy with that. As a flow-on effect to this, demand for work had increased, and so I arranged for Mr Hill to look into purchasing another two more trucks with refrigerated trailers to add to the fleet of trucks, plus 4 smaller trucks that could deal with city and suburban freight.
When the purchases were completed and the trucks were in the yard, three more truck drivers were employed to drive the 4 tonne trucks, and another one driver was employed to drive heavy haulage freight. Also as a result of the increase of business an extra freight storeman was employed to help with the workload in the sheds.
When it came to the day to return to school, I was not feeling at all well. My Gran said it was just nerves and once I was there I would feel a lot better. So, dressed in my new school uniform, I made the long trip to school, arriving just fifteen minutes before the first bell. I went to the admin office to get my timetable and allocated locker. When I walked into the reception area Mrs Dixon was chatting to the headmaster. As soon as she saw me she had a big smile and came over to greet me. Instead of shaking my hand she gave me a big warm hug.
“Welcome back, young man. It’s good to see you here after such a long absence. Make sure you let one of the staff know if you have any problems,” the headmaster said shaking my hand, after I had escaped the embrace of Mrs Dixon.
“Thank-you, Sir, and thank you for allowing me to return to my same year class. I’m nervous, but looking forward to the new school year,” I replied, and with a nod of the head to both I went to the reception desk to receive the information I needed, and headed towards my locker.
I had just put my books for the term on the top shelf and was stashing my backpack on the lower shelf, when I was suddenly pushed forward. I hit my head on the edge of the locker door before collapsing to the floor. I lost consciousness for a few moments, as people started to gather. A teacher suddenly appeared and after a quick glance, he told me not to move. Grabbing his mobile from his belt he asked the nurse to come to the Year 7 locker area immediately.
The teacher looked around at the gathering crowd of students, and asked if anyone saw what had happened. No one said anything, so he instructed the students to head towards their first class. A few minutes later the school nurse appeared. Much to my surprise it was one of the kind nurses that looked after me in hospital.
“Well, Mr, Wellstead, I see you need some medical assistance once again,” the nurse said with a big grin.
“Hey, Nurse Jackie. Nice to see you again. Yes, I was pushed from behind and hit my head on the edge of the door of my locker,” I explained.
After a few checks to ensure there were no other injuries, the nurse instructed the staff to get me to the infirmary, so she could keep an eye on me for a bit longer, especially since I had lost consciousness briefly. I was finally released from the nurse’s care just as the bell for lunch sounded. I made my way to the cafeteria, as Gran had given me some money to buy some lunch since it was my first day back.
Once I got my food, I looked around the room, but didn’t see anyone I recognised from my classes, as I hadn’t seen them in so long. My head was still hurting a bit from the incident earlier in the day, so I started to head outside to the outdoor covered eating area.
“Hey Grant. Over here dude,” I heard a voice call, and looking around I saw Danny, Julia, Mick, Sam and Toby sitting together at a table in one corner. I smiled and nodded that I had heard, and made my way over to the table. Out of all the people that I knew in the school, these five were the closest of friends, and they all greeted me warmly, shuffling over to make space so I could sit between the two girls. I began to eat my meal as everyone started to ask what had happened to me that morning.
I shrugged my shoulders and swallowed the food in my mouth, “Some big bloke just pushed me with his hands as he walked past, and kept walking, when I hit the edge of the door and collapsed.”
The group started talking at once asking each other who was there, and who could possibly do a mean thing like that. Then one comment caught my attention.
“There is this new kid in the school. He is big and heavy built, and I saw him walking past me as I went to see who had got hurt. I think he is in the next year up. His name is Baker I think,” Sam said, trying to recall everything that she saw that morning.
There was silence for a while before I spoke up. “Don’t worry about it, guys. I’m ok and I will have my grandparents take me to the doctor if I’m not, ok?”
Everyone looked at me concerned for me. No one saw the orange that came flying at me from some distance and at some speed, hitting me square on the back of the head as I was leaning over and bending my head down to take another bite of my sandwich. The force of the orange made me hit the tray of food face down quite hard, and this forced my drink to tip over and spill all over the table. In the distance, there was one guy laughing at me.
With an angry look on her face after looking in that direction Sam said, “That’s him. He’s the one who passed me in the hall when I was approaching you this morning.”
I didn’t bother to look. I didn’t need to. I just concentrated on cleaning up the mess on my face and the table. Julia stood up and stormed off in the direction of the guy who threw the orange, abandoning her half-eaten lunch on the table. After a brief discussion, Julia gave the guy a huge slap across the face and a punch in the stomach before walking away.
A few minutes later in the admin building, Julia was at the reception desk requesting to speak to the headmaster. She was lead into the office by the headmaster’s secretary who closed the door behind her.
“Now, Miss Crenshaw, how may I help you today?” the headmaster said motioning her to sit in a seat in front of him.
“Sir, a few minutes ago I spoke to a year 9 student, then slapped him on the face and punched him in the stomach.” She paused to let the headmaster absorb that a student had openly admitted to assaulting another student. “The reason I did this sir, is that this student - his name is Baker - was responsible for the injuries my good friend Grant Wellstead received this morning at his locker, and also for throwing an orange that hit Grant on the back of the head just now, causing him to go face down in his lunch.
After I had slapped him he threatened to get his daddy who is a big truck driver to come and teach little girls how they should behave. That’s when I punched him and walked off.”The headmaster smiled then held a hand up signalling her to wait. Picking up his phone he asked that Grant Wellstead be brought to his office right away.
A few minutes later there was a knock on the door, and I walked into the office. On seeing Julia seated, I looked shocked and worried. I was motioned to take a seat. Julia was asked by the headmaster to repeat what she had just told him. When she mentioned that this bully’s father was a truck driver, I suddenly remembered the list of new truck drivers that I had received via email that morning before coming to school.
The top of the list was the new heavy freight driver: Michael Adam Baker, married, wife’s name Sarah, 1 Son Adam M Baker, aged 14.“Headmaster, by any chance is this student’s name Adam M Baker, and his father’s name Michael?” I asked out of interest.
The headmaster looked at his computer and after a few clicks the right screen came up. “Yes, Grant, that is correct. Do you know his father?’ the headmaster asked.I smiled and nodded. Then tilting my head towards Julia, I looked at the door. The headmaster got the clue and asked Julia to go to her afternoon class.
Once Julia had left, I stood up. “Headmaster, as fate has it I do know who his father is. As you know I inherited some land and a business recently, and Mr Baker senior is a new employee, who just started a few weeks ago. Please let me deal with this bully. I’m sure I will get a better outcome by approaching this bully’s father as his employer,” I said.
The headmaster smiled and nodded, I shook his hand and left the office. Once outside the building I took out my phone and made a phone call to Mr Hills. Although he was not available his secretary said that she would personally take care of the arrangements, after I explained what had happened. She wished me a good afternoon.
Finally, I was able to attend my first class for the year, with Mrs Dixon as the teacher. I saw Julia walking away from the teacher’s desk just as I walked in, and Mrs Dixon just motioned me to take a seat.
The last three classes for the day seemed to race by as the last bell of the day sounded. With my backpack in hand, I went straight out to the front gate where a chauffeured car was waiting for me. The driver handed me a folder, before closing the back door. As he started off for the half hour drive to the business, I opened the folder in which there was a letter.
“Good afternoon, Mr Wellstead, all arrangements have been made as per your request. Mr Harrington, the Administration Manager, is expecting you and will help in any way, although I didn’t inform him of the reason for your visit, only that you wanted to meet all the new drivers individually.”
Copyright February 2018, Preston Wigglesworth, All Rights are Reserved