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Bobby's Lament

Bobby always hated his name. Not the "Bobby" part, or even "Robert" per se. It was all that stuff after Robert that bothered him. He wanted to make his mom happy by learning it, but it was just too hard. So they tried to shorten it by calling him "little Bobby Tables" but, while he could remember that, the neighborhood bullies could too. It was almost worse. Imagine the taunts they yelled at him; "HEY BOBBY! ARE YOU SET? THEN WHERE'S YOUR PLATE?" or, in day care, offering him a chair and laughing mercilessly.

But school was worse. Far worse.

It started well enough. He was excited about going to school. With his new matching backpack and lunchbox, he couldn't wait to get out the door.

But when he got to school, it was chaos. The teachers were scrambling to figure out who was supposed to be where. Everyone was running around with stacks of paper in their hands, rifling through them to find this page or that.

In the middle of all this was a pretty young woman at a table, greeting all the students. Her table was filled with stacks of papers, and there was a long line of new students waiting to talk to her, to learn where they should be. She was obviously as stressed as all the other adults. But she tried to put a cheerful face on it (with minimal success).

Eventually, Bobby made it to the front of the line, and she asked him his name.

"Bobby"

"Hi, Bobby! Welcome! What's your last name?"

"Roberts"

She started to look through papers, pulling out a few. "I don't seem to see you here. Is it possible you're know by another name?"

Bobby started to turn red. He stared at his feet and stammered "Robert..."

She settled on one paper. She looked at it carefully for a few moments, a worried look on her face. "Ummm... Is there something else in your name?"

Bobby was afraid of this. "I... I don't remember what it is. But my mom wrote it down." He produced a folded up note from his pocket.

She looked at the paper and compared it to the paperwork she had, and her tone went suddenly frigid. "Oh. So you're the one...". She studded the note from Bobby's mother some more and the form. "Do you know how much trouble you've caused?" she snapped.

Poor little Bobby began to feel ill. "M-Me? Wh...What did I do? I just got here."

"Stand over here and wait. I need to take care of these other students." She asked someone to send for the principal and started to help the next child in line.

Bobby started to choke back a tear. "Don't I get to go to my class?" He was still looking forward to his classes, and couldn't see why the other children were able to go to class while he had to wait here.

To make matters worse, some of the neighborhood bullies saw him waiting there and shouted, "HEY TABLE! YOU WAITING FOR A CHAIR?"

That was it. Bobby started to cry, in front of all his new classmates.

Eventually, the principal showed up. He talked to the lady. "Grace? What's the problem?"

"You know all the trouble we're having with the computers? I think I found the problem. It's this boy here." She pointed to Bobby, then handed the principal the paper. "Look at his name."

"You mean all this gibberish after 'Robert'? What does it all mean?"

It's called "SQL injection". That name is why we don't have a student database.

The principal looked at Bobby, still standing there quietly sobbing. "Do you know anything about this?"

"No sir. I can't even remember what it is. My mom wrote me a note to help. I don't know what's going on."

"Don't worry, ummm, Robert. It's not your fault." He handed Bobby a tissue and looked at the name again. "You don't by any chance have a sister named Elaine, do you?"

"Ummm, yeah. Why?"

"Your mom likes to have fun with names. It looks like she's upped the ante." He turned to the lady. "Get him to his class. I'll call his mother." He snapped a picture of the note that Bobby's mother wrote, gave it back to him, and left.

Grace was more sympathetic now. "I'm sorry, Bobby. Your home room is 24. Just down that hall."

When he got there, Bobby found he was the last one there and found the last available seat. The teacher started, "Good Morning, class. My name is Miss Lucy, and I'll be your home room teacher. I know we're going to have a great time this year, learning all kinds of interesting things. To start with, I'll take attendance. When I call your name, please say 'here'."

She then read everyone's name and they all answered "here". But when she got to the Rs, she paused. "This can't be right. Is there a...Robert... I'm not sure how to pronounce this... drop table students Roberts? Is that right?"

Bobby sighed and said "here".

Miss Lucy asked him, "Is that how you say your name? What do you prefer?"

"Bobby Tables is fine." Bobby replied, accompanied by giggles from his classmates.

Miss Lucy looked around the room at the guilty gigglers. "How about if we just call you Bobby. Would that be okay?"

"That would be fine." Bobby replied, and almost smiled.

By lunchtime, it was common knowledge among the faculty, and some of the students who he was. Everywhere he went, it seemed people were pointing at him and whispering. But nobody talked to him unless they had to.

When he got home, his mom was out, but his older sister, Elaine, was home. She was in her room, working on her computer when he came in, but came out to talk to him.

"Hi Bobby Tables! How was school? Anything..." and she grinned, 'interesting happen?"

"You mean besides the fact that everyone there hates me?"

Elaine's grin vanished. "What happened?"

"I don't know. Everyone thought I did something really bad to the computers. But...But I don't know anything about computers. How could I?" He started to cry.

Elaine gave him a hug. "I'm sorry. I guess the name worked, but they all blamed you. That wasn't fair."

Bobby calmed down a bit, and after a moment asked her, "How was your first day?"

She smiled, "You mean, as 'Help! I'm trapped in a driver's license factory' Elaine Roberts? Yeah, that was an interesting day. No one could believe that was my name. So it wasn't much of an issue. They just called me Elaine."

"Yeah, my teacher is calling me Bobby. I think I prefer that to Bobby Tables."

Eventually, the memory of the first day and the computer snafu faded, and people just knew him as Bobby. He never did use computers much. He preferred to do things with his hands. He learned to cook at a young age (partially out of necessity). And after he finished school, he became an apprentice to a woodworker, eventually starting his own custom made furniture shop. His specialty? Drop leaf tables.