“It’s our most popular manipulative,” she said. Her voice was a highwire of mid-twenties control, a rise and fall cadence like the casual and lull toss of a ball. The trainees sat in rows, folders of papers in their laps, packets of papers to sign. A warship of organization, quite shipshape. There was a powerpoint presentation to follow, reading along with the papers in the folders, then a dinner of sandwiches and potato chips. The woman with her hair in a frizzy ponytail didn’t raise her hand and was called on anyway. Another three women who sat in the back chatted away without any reprimand. Classroom management was a blip on the radar. “It’s our most popular manipulative,” the director said as she tossed the pink soccer ball covered in numbers into the air. “Our most popular one. I don’t know why.” Learning is fun.
When she quit the job after only one use of the pink math ball, she recognized the voice from Human Resources as the same trained highwire act from training. The careful phrasing of “We’re going to ask you to go ahead and come in to finish up Thursday,” and the final parting lob of “Well, we thought you cared. We’re disappointed because we thought you cared and now the children are the ones who will suffer.” The most popular manipulative. She spiked the ball over the net with “I’m sorry you feel that way. Thank you for your time.”