Yesterday something happened that has never happened even once in my 20 years here. I knew these kids were nicer than usual.

When we correct shtuff in class, whether it’s trade-and-grade or grade-your-own, I almost always hand out red pens. They are paid for by our department. Even if kids are holding their own, I like to pass out mine so I can tell at a glance if that’s the only writing instrument they’re holding. The problem is I almost never remember to recollect them at the end of a period, so it’s always,

“Just leave them on the desks for the next crew.”

And always, a few go missing from class to class. Sometimes by the end of the day, I don’t have enough to go around any more, and I have to send my slave on a mission to get more pens from our department head.

I figure I lose at least 50-60 pens a year. One year I had my slave attach a label to each one that said,

“Stolen from Mr. Coward.”

I only lost about 40 that year.

But yesterday…

First period was bustling around packing up and trying to get out the door, and somebody reminds me that I didn’t recollect the pens.

“Just leave ’em on the desks for the next crew.” Sigh. I am already headed for the red pen cup to replenish the missing ones, when I notice.

Every desk still had a red pen. Whoa. Rare, but not unheard of.

After second period they were still there. Double whoa.

Same with third period. Triple whoa.

Then I had lunch, video class (different room), and my prep. The pens were still there. I was aghast. They all still had their caps.

Sixth period ended and they were still there…

Not once in my 20+ years here has that ever happened. Not once. And if we get through sixth period here in another hour and a half, and they are still there on day two, I might just judge this a miracle.

They didn’t even know what five-finger discount meant when I complimented this morningĀ on not taking the pens.

They’re so cute.