You are the monkey wrench

Students at Readington Middle School got uppity last week and taught all of us trapped in the system a lesson:

...7th- and 8th-graders reportedly decided that 30 minutes was not enough time to line up, purchase and eat their lunch. So on Thursday morning, these students trudged into the lunch line, weighed down by the coins pilfered from the crevices of couches, car ashtrays and piggy banks, and paid for their $2 lunch with hundreds of pennies. By the time lunch was over, the registers where filled with about 5,800 pennies. Delays in counting the money meant many students went hungry.

School officials were not impressed and began doling out detention like sloppy Joe's. In all, 29 students received punishment. Administrators told them that what they had done was "disrespectful" not only to cafeteria staff but also to fellow students. (Yet on Friday, many of them brought bag lunches to protest on behalf of the so-called "Readington 29.")

You can't always escape prison. You can't always defeat your captors. You can't always knock down the walls and release your fellow prisoners.

But you're not powerless. Their need for us to behave in an orderly, predictable manner is a vulnerability of theirs; it can be exploited. You have the ability to transform from a replaceable part into a monkey wrench. If kids can do it on a small scale, we can do it on a large scale.

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Written on Friday, March 07, 2008