Once upon a time someone with a child named Jihad had the telephone number that is now my own. Yes, Jihad. I have reached this conclusion because at least four times a week I return home to see a flickering number on my answering machine. I still get excited at the prospect of its being a caller from home (all my local chums use the “cell”) but most times when I press Play I hear instead an automated message from George Washington High School.
The message lets me know that “your child, [a slight pause in which the automated program inserts the name] Jihad Shelby, was not present at school today.” The voice continues, reminding me that “a missed day of school is a missed day of instruction”. By the number of times I have heard this message, Jihad’s missed a lot of school, and a lot of instruction. God knows what he’s actually been doing.