Number one for English language teachers

Anecdote: The chair

Type: Anecdote

A chair proves to be Justin O'Coner's downfall.

This happened in my English 401 class at the Center for Interamerican Studies in Cuenca, Ecuador.

My class of adult learners and I were seated around our table, enthusiastically discussing Ecuador’s presidential election. I was seated upon one of the Center’s utilitarian, hollow-legged, metal chairs, chairs that never seemed to fully appreciate nor confidently support my 220-pound frame. My chair’s smooth, plastic-tipped legs were reflected by the shiny surface of the classic wood floor.

I was enjoying our lively discussion as it bounced about the table like a ping-pong ball when all of a sudden I swiftly and most unexpectedly dropped a couple of feet in altitude. In what had taken only a fraction of a second, the two front legs of my chair had slid out sideways, completely flattening themselves beneath me. Due to the fact that the chair’s rear legs had remained straight and unbent, I was simultaneously thrust forward, my legs sliding fully beneath the table, such that the bridge of my nose came to rest within an inch or so from the edge of the tabletop, just above which my startled eyes peered upwards into the equally startled eyes of my students.

The room was completely silent. I felt somewhat embarrassed but managed to arch my eyebrows and dart my eyes from side to side in a show of exaggerated astonishment. A split second later we all erupted into laughter. I got to my feet and held up the chair for all to see, and the laughter intensified. After class, I brought the chair down to the English Department for show and tell where it provided much humor throughout the day.

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