No Free Bread at Pluto’s

So you’re at the local taqueria, moving down the line of glass-protected steam tables of beans, rice, meat, sour cream, guacamole, cheddar cheese, and a few other ingredients Mexicans probably never intended be combined. You hear the monotone questions and register the blank stare and moving lips of the person asking. You think for a moment that she really couldn’t care whether you wanted refried beans or black, whether your order is for here or to go, or even whether you just dropped dead from the weight of one of the brick burritos barely contained in two layers of quilted aluminum foil. You’ve been here a hundred times in the last year, and you have yet to be acknowledged as a regular, not even with a simple hello or You want the chicken taco again? The guy behind you is insisting on speaking in heavily-accented Spanish and you wonder whether he learned his Spanish in school or in the Peace Corps; he does have that slightly hipster look and swagger of someone raised in an upper middle-class liberal family, perhaps the product of a private school upbringing.

Your order is a one of the more expensive items, a combo plate with seafood and steak. The menu mounted up on the wall doesn’t specify all the items included in the plate, so you feel a bit awkward responding to the questions: You want sour cream? You want cheese? You want guacamole? You want tortillas? Your mind runs through several competing thoughts at once before you answer. Yes, of course I want them, but are they going to charge me extra? If it’s extra, I don’t want it, but if it’s included, of course I want it. Continue reading


As good a topic as any to kick off this blog, I suppose. 🙂

“Our revolutionary approach to test prep can help your test scores soar. Guaranteed.”

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the temptation–you think your approach to teaching the test is the best (otherwise you wouldn’t be teaching that way) and you have at least a few students who tell you that they think your way of teaching is the best. And probably a few of those students will tell you that they’ve studied at other places before and didn’t like it.

A good friend of mine and I for many years have had a running joke about how many people you need to agree with you for you to think that your belief is incontrovertible. Yes, we believe that for many people (including us in many cases) that that number is surprisingly low–two, to be exact. Continue reading