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It's an Adventure This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


     Some think community service isdrudgery, work that they're stuck with because no one else wants to do it. At myschool, where we are required to do ten hours of community service each semester,we know better.

My service project is to be an aide to a junior-high mathteacher. At first I thought this was going to be a very lame two and a half hourseach week, but, au contraire, I could not have been more wrong. When I enter thatclassroom, I feel overcome with anticipation of what journey I will takenext.

I try to contain my enthusiasm as I receive my assignment. Mymission (should I choose to accept it) is to "Make 40 copies of each ofthese worksheets." Today, I am a biological engineer working to perfect theart of cloning. But there's a catch: "I want them printed on bothsides," my commander orders. Even better. "And three-hole punched,please." I take a deep breath and accept the challenge.

As I traversethe hallway, classified documents in hand, I steel myself for the task before me.I pause before passing through a dark doorway. My position often necessitatesadmittance to areas of the facility other students only see from a distance, suchas the Back Office. A glance assures me that the coast is clear.

A shiverruns down my spine as I think of stories I have heard of students who have daredto tread this prohibited territory, and have never been the same since, victimsof the ruthless librarian/self-appointed copy room autocrat. I once had anencounter with this dictionary-wielding tyrant myself. On an errand for myteacher, I found myself the object of her stern perusal. In a commanding voiceshe demanded, "Are you doing this for a teacher?"

"No," I wanted to reply in a condescending voice, "I justwanted 200 copies of these addition worksheets to satisfy my own indecentfetishes." Unfortunately, my bravado failed me and all I could reply was ameek, "Yes." That ordeal was too close for comfort, and I have nodesire to go through it again.

Today, though, I have a far more formidableadversary. In the corner of the room lurks a leviathan, blinking at me with onegreen eye as I edge toward it. I can hear its labored breathing, and can almostvisualize the worn gears tightening in anticipation. Gathering my courage, Ithrust a master copy toward its ancient mouth and jump back as it moans slowly tolife. Sullenly it spits out one weak copy and I push a button for the rest. In amatter of minutes it is finished, and I wait suspiciously for something tohappen. It is never this cooperative.

Sure enough, on my second run, ithappens. Papers fly and lights flash, warning me that this machine willself-destruct in 30 seconds. I frantically pound the reset button, but it is toolittle too late. Now the monster is provoked. Only after a few rounds of toner,full interior cleaning and some new master parchment is it mollified enough tolet me complete my task. Half an hour later I emerge from its den, disheveled andfrustrated, but with my mission completed. I have conquered the beast; theseventh-graders will be have homework for another day and I, in a small way, havemade the world a better place.

Who says community service can't be anadventure?




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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