On my first day at work in a special education school, there was a dance. The gym was jam packed with kids dancing their hearts out. As a trainee, the only expectation placed on me was to mingle, to get to know the kids. So I gave it a shot and totally failed.
The first student I met asked me something over the pounding music. All I herd was "What... all?" I realized that he had some sort of speech issue, and STUPIDLY assumed he asked me what the song was called.
Well, the song was Cupid Shuffle, which will be important later.
The next day, I was permanently assigned to classroom with teenagers. Everything was going well until we got to lunch. In the middle of the cafeteria, the student from the day before came up and greeted me.
"What up? Oopid!" he shouted.
With dawning horror, I realized exactly what was happening. He had asked me my name, not the name of the song and thought that I was named "Cupid Shuffle", a pair of words he couldn't render correctly.
"Oh, f---. That kid just called Mr. Phil 'stupid'." chuckled one of my teenage students. Yes, let's not put to fine a point on it. That was exactly what was happening.
Teachers, aides, speech therapists and OT worked their hearts out to help this kid say "Cupid" correctly. He couldn't. Nor could anyone convince him to called by my real name, "Phil". Add in the fact that every new person who encountered this kid thought he hated me and needed to be corrected. Actually, he liked me so much, he wanted to greet me by name at every encounter. I really liked him. He became my favorite despite the communication glitch.
As I mentioned, every effort to get him to render "oopid" as "Cupid" failed. The best anyone could do was teach him the sign for "Cupid" in American Sign Langue and then teach all new staff that sign, too. It eliminated much of the shock because at least everyone knew what he meant. The sign looks like firing an arrow followed by a flapping of arms like wings. It is literally "Archer+Wings".
Fast forward 2 years. A class of new trainee staff toured the building. Near the gym, they met my favorite little guy and he had them bottled up with all his cuteness. He was that kid. He was so charming they took their time talking to him, one by one.
As I walked past he shouted out, "Hey!" and gave a quick version of my name in sign language, just the arrow part. Months before, he stopped trying to say my "name".
The kids play football in the gym heard him and they copied him: "Hey!" and the sign.
"Whoa! You have your own sign?" asked one of the trainees.
"Well, yeah," I answered.
"That is so cool," they muttered appreciatively.
A few days later, there was a bit of an uproar in HR. Apparently, the new training class loved "Mr. Archer" but there was no staff or student by that name.
Truth or Tall Tale? This one is true!