On the Top

Some people think it’s easy being me. Well, they’re wrong. There is nothing easy about being house captain. They think I’m lucky because I’m in charge, and I can make my house do anything I want. In reality, it’s the school telling the kids what to do, and I’m just the go-between. And every time there is a problem, I have to be the one to fix it. Just the other day, one of the hundreds of my house came up to me with a problem. It was the day of the 8/9 grade interhouse long jump competition. I was already tensed because my house, green house, doesn’t have many good long jumpers. Jumping is Blue house’s area.

            Anyway, this little girl in jeans and a maroon collared shirt comes up to me, when the competition just started.

            ‘Hey, Tyler. I gave my name for the long jump girls and it’s not on the list.’ Just what I needed. Complications.

            ‘Go talk to the head teacher.’

            ‘I did. He said to talk to my house captain.’

Well, I’d never seen this girl in my house. She must have been new and not known the captain of her own house.

            ‘What house are you in?’ I asked.

            ‘Green.’

            Now I was stumped. I couldn’t be less bothered, but I couldn’t ignore her either, unfortunately.

            ‘When did you give your name?’

            Last week. Either Thursday or Friday. I forgot.’

            ‘Fine. How good are you? Can you beat Sarah?’

            How would I know? She’s brand new to this school. I’ve never seen her long jump.’ Just the answer I needed. In the sarcastic sense.

            ‘Well, can you beat her?’ I said, pointing to the girl doing long jump just then. She jumped about twelve and a half feet(She ended up getting first place).

            ‘No way,’ the maroon shirt girl said, her eyes going wide. ‘She’s so good!’

            ‘Sorry then,’ I said, putting my hand on her shoulder. ‘ You can’t do it.’ She looked crestfallen.

            ‘Samantha! You are up right now! It’s your turn to jump,’ called the head teacher.

            ‘Samantha!’ He called again.

            ‘Tyler!’ My vice captain ran up to me, panic in her voice. ‘Tyler, Samantha’s sick, and we don’t have any replacements! She’s in our house!’

            I turned to the girl. Her eyes were hopeful.

            ‘Which grade are you in? 8th?’

            ‘9th.’ She looked way too tiny to be in 9th grade. I couldn’t believe she was only two years younger than me.

            ‘Today’s your lucky day,’ I said. ‘Go tell the head teacher that you’re filling in for Samantha.’ She dashed off. Fortunately, she didn’t do too badly.

 

            Another burden of being house captain is that everyone expects you to be the best. If anything concerning you goes wrong, they always put the blame entirely on you. For example, take the day after the long jump dilemma. It was the day of the inter house tug o’ war competition. It was us against Blue house. If we lost, we’d almost definitely be beaten by Red house the next day. All the team members had to be in 10th grade or higher. I, as captain, had to participate. I was feeling a bit nervous. Blue had really strong people, and we were a bit lacking.

            When I had gone down to the field for the tug o’ war, I saw that nearly all of the people in  Green house and Blue house were assembled there. Most of them were clutching good luck charms. The moment we became visible to the crowd, the screaming started.

            ‘The competition hasn’t even started yet,’ yelled the head teacher. ‘Quiet down!’

            We’re encouraging them,’ yelled the long jump girl over the noise of the crowd.

            Oh God, I thought. This is just the encouragement. I wonder what will happen when we actually start.

The anchor at the end tied the rope around his waist. All of the eleven people of the Blue house team grabbed the rope, and so did we. The head teacher lifted his hand and blew the whistle, and we started tugging. The screaming of the spectators increased by a few decibels. I tugged with all my might, like the others, but we couldn’t displace the Blue house team, nor could they make us budge. The sweat glistened on my forehead as I put all my effort in. Eventually, my hands got  way too drenched to hold on to the rope. They slipped, and I tumbled to the ground.

Blue house stole their chance then. Before I could get up and regain a hold on the rope, they took advantage of the loss of weight on our side. We lost.

            As I was going up to my class, in absolute disgrace, I heard a conversation between two people: the long jump girl and another girl who I knew. Her name was Diana.

            ‘It’s all Tyler’s fault that we lost,’ exclaimed Diana.

            ‘Shh… He’s behind you,’ said the long jump girl. Diana watched me pass. I went and stood next to the wall, pretending to read the list of the shot put participants taped there. They lowered their voices, but I could still hear them faintly.

            ‘It is though,’ said Diana, ‘If Tyler hadn’t fallen, we would have won.’

            ‘Come on Diana. It wasn’t his fault. He was pulling as hard as he could. He was pouring out gallons of sweat.  He couldn’t help falling. You shouldn’t blame him,’ said the long jump girl. I grateful towards her for defending me.

            ‘Still.’

            ‘I know what you mean. I just hope we win against Red tomorrow.’

            Their conversation was over, and I made my way up to class, with the burden of tomorrow’s match on my shoulders.

           

The next day was our tug o’ war match with Red houses. I made it a point to wear extra antiperspirant so as not to empty out our sweat glands like the previous day. Me and the team made our way to the field. Now almost the whole school was situated there. I couldn’t embarrass myself again in front of the whole school. Plus, I saw quite a few bets being made. Losing meant that a lot of Green house people would lose a lot of cash.

As before, the head teacher lifted his hand from the rope and blew the whistle. The scenario was just the same except for two principle differences. The first was that we heard quite a few boos from the population of Red house. The second was that the ‘encouraging’ from  the members of Green house was way above safe decibel limits.

 Maybe the noise did encourage us because we some how managed to put more effort into it than any of us thought humanely possible. This was probably the reason why we won.

            Green house went hysterical. Everyone was jumping around and hugging everyone else(at least as far as Green house was concerned). I saw quite a few Red house people being depleted of money, and Green house people getting rich. The best thing was that I had made up for the previous day’s disappointment. The rest of the day passed by with me feeling like a million dollars.

           

After hearing about my responsibilities and dilemmas, you must be dreading being house captain(or for that matter, captain of anything). But certain moments(like the one just described) are worth the hassles. When you make the right decision, the outcome can be wonderful. They give glory to you and all the people under you, and are extremely satisfying and awesome experiences.

            One such experience came just the next day. Its funny how all the things you can experience in your life as captain can take place in four days.

            It was the day of the 8/9 grade interhouse shot put event. I had delayed collecting the names for Green house participants, and I couldn’t procrastinate any more.  In the afternoon, one hour before the event, I excused myself from class to go receive the names of people who wanted to participate. First, I made my way to the 8th graders and got an enthusiastic response from my house. After visiting them, though, I still needed one more person to do the event for us. I made my way to the science lab, where I knew half of the 9th graders would be having Biology class. The other half was having some other class. I didn’t know where.

            ‘Excuse me,’ I said to the professor. ‘May I just take… that girl over there out of class for a minute,’ I asked, pointing to the long jump girl. She was the only person of my house I could see in that room. The professor said yes.

            I took Ms. Long Jump out. ‘ Listen, we have the shot put event in… 45 minutes,’ I said, checking my watch, ‘I still need one person more to do the event for us. Can you do shot put? If not, it’s fine, I’ll ask Diana,’ I told her. She laughed.

            ‘Diana? You expect Diana to do shot put? She’s so weak she’d break her arm just trying to lift the ball. Other than me and her, there are only two more people in our house in 9th grade, and I’m one hundred percent sure they don’t know how to do it. I’m your only chance. I’m going.’ (Turned out those people didn’t know how to do it. I asked them.)

            ‘You better be good,’ I warned her. She laughed again.

            ‘Yeah. Our house can’t suffer any more embarrassments after the tug o’ war disaster with Blue. Most people seem to think that you induced it.’ I turned red. I decided to bring the subject back on track.

            ‘What’s your name?’

            ‘Amber,’ she said. I wrote it down on the list.

            ‘Well, Amber, you have to be down in the field in half an hour for the event.’

            ‘Why 15 minutes early?’

            ‘The head teacher is going to explain the rules and do a demonstration. And to make sure nothing like what happened in long jump takes place.’ Now it was her to turn red.

            ‘How heavy is the ball? It’s solid lead,’ Amber said.

            ‘Yes. It’s 8 pounds.’ I checked my watch again. ‘I have to go. See you down in half an hour.’ She went back into Biology. I heard her talking to the teacher, and left only when I was sure Amber had gotten permission to go for the shot put.

 

            I was more nervous than before any of the other events that had taken place in recent times. None of the 8th graders were that good in shot put as far as I knew. I was unsure of Amber’s shot put skills, and, as she rightly said, Green house couldn’t suffer another embarrassment. It would be fatal to our already shaky reputation. Half an hour later, at precisely 2:30 pm, I made my way down to the field. Most of the people were already assembled down there. I found out that the whole Grade 9 had received permission to watch the shot put from their Biology professor, and all the people were encouraging the participants of their respective houses. This made me even more nervous. Amber, I thought, You better not let me down today. The head teacher demonstrated the throw and explained all the rules of the event. Each person had three throws, and the best one of those three would be taken. There was a certain zone in which the shots had to fall in. If they fell out of the zone, then they would be considered  fouls.

            First was the boy’s event. I was feeling much more confident at the end of it because the person from our team, Sean, nabbed the gold medal for us. Then came the girl’s event. The one I was most worried about.

            First up was Red house. Their first person’s first shot wasn’t too bad. Blue houses first shots weren’t too good either. Unfortunately, neither were the 8th graders’ first shots. Then was Amber.

            Her’s was the worst of them all. The others at least got their shots within the zone. Amber’s was a foul. My head dropped to my hands. This was not going good.

            Next was everybody’s second shot. Everyone did much better. That is , everyone except Amber. She threw another foul.

            By now I was feeling really desperate. The 8th graders hadn’t done good enough to get even a place in the stands. And Amber was throwing fouls. This did not look good.

            Then came the last throw for everyone. No one did especially good. Except the last person. Amber  entered the throwing circle and picked up the 8-pound ball. She looked out at the zone and angled her body in an entirely different way than in the previous shots. I watched her prepare for the shot, my heart pounding. She threw.

             The ball sailed threw the air and landed in the zone, just behind the shot of the first place girls shot. Amber had gotten the silver medal out of 20 people.

            Green house went ecstatic(again). All the girls in Green  house ran to her and hugged her, screaming. I saw a look of claustrophobia come on her face. I resisted a laugh. At her first chance, she dashed upstairs to the Biology lab to get her backpack, and ran down again. I gave her a high-five when I saw her. I was thrilled. The embarrassment I was sure would arrive never did.

            In those four days, I experienced almost everything that takes place if you have the post of house captain. Shame, glory, satisfaction, challenge.

            Thus goes life at the top.

The End

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