WHILE wearing school uniforms for most students sound like a convenient and attractive quick fix, this policy was never easy for me. Somehow, the idea of wearing the same clothes four or even five days a week held no apeal for me since first grade.
On several occasions, my refusal to wear uniforms (don’t forget the ID cards) resulted to my being denied access to the classroom. But I never learned.
As early as the second month of classes each year I used to exhaust all reasons why I was not in uniform (like I spilled milk/coffee/tea/ink/juice or whatever on it, or it rained last night and I forgot to get it from the clothesline, or even something as dramatic and unbelieveable as “while on the way to school I met a dog who jumped on me and smeared mud on my uniform… and so on).
It’s amazing how fast reasons could crop up but wearing uniforms was among the school policies set with no opt out and overzealous enforcement often takes place causing a myriad of problems.
I didn’t have an expansive wardrobe that I wanted to flaunt before my classmates everyday. It’s just that I always felt comfortable and free wearing ‘anyform’.
One particular Wednesday in my senior year in high school, I woke up just in time to hear the second bell ringing, it’s deafening peals announcing that flag ceremony was just five minutes away. I flew out of bed, ran to the bathroom only to find out that my brother had used the water I’ve stocked the night before and, as expected, not a drop came out of the tap.
Hurriedly wiping my face and body with a wet face towel, I held back a string of undesirable words, silently vowing to strangle my brother for using the water. I jumped into a pair of jeans and stuffed candy and junk food wrappers into my pockets as I already knew we would be ordered to go out during first period to collect garbage for missing flag ceremony.
Rushing out of the boarding house, I crossed the street and headed towards the gate, only to find that everybody was in uniform and guarding the gate was no other than the school PMT commandant who was checking that everyone was in their uniforms and had their ID’s.
Only then did I remember that it was not Wednesday but Thursday, and I couldn’t afford to miss the first period because this is the only chance my teacher gave me to make up for missing an examination.
“Uh-ohh no chance of getting into the school unless I change to uniform,” I muttered. Left with nothing to do, I headed back to my boarding house when I met my equally-disobedient classmate Elsie wearing jeans as I did.
A brilliant idea suddenly flashed in my mind. I dragged my classmate towards the sugar cane plantation behind the school fenced only by a four rows of barbed wire. We had a hard time getting through the tall sugar cane stalks, getting bruises on our arms and mud on our sandals (you’re right, we were not wearing shoes too..)
Bending down, I carefully parted the barbed wire to make a passage and unfortunately scraped my arm on the wire. I crawled through the wires first and helped Elsie.
Finally, we made it and I patted myself for being so clever. Brushing off mud from my jeans and blood from my arm, I looked up in time to see our principal standing in the middle of the path, a come-and-account-for-yourself look smugly pasted on his face.
No explanations were necessary. We came out of his office somber-faced as we followed him with a “wooden measuring stick” he was famous for.
Violate a school rule and you’d find yourself on the receiving end as he metes out grassy areas for clearing off under the heat of the sun while your classmates are having classes. Or you could be digging a pit, depending upon the seriousness of your offense.
We acquired blisters on our palms instead and our skins turned three more shades darker, all because of our refusal to comply with school rules. Too late to realize that some orders are not just worth disobeying.