t Mount San Antonio College, where I’m studying for my sign certificate, there are ducks all over the ASL department. Rubber ducks, duck pens, decoy ducks, yellow feathers, plush ducks, basically any kind of duck you can think of, it’s there somewhere. Frequently I’ll come into class and there will be duck pictures drawn all over the white boards, with the words “Quack” written everywhere too. On the day a bunch of people came into class wearing duck masks and pelting little duck erasers at the teacher, we got a hilarious explanation of what’s really going on. This is what we were told:
Robert Arnold started it all, he fully admits to everything. In his first year of teaching, he was required to attend these once a week meetings about how to be a better teacher. He’s Deaf, so he had two interpreters to go with him. Well, the meetings were pretty boring. So instead of trying to pay attention, he decided to screw with the interpreters. He would be signing really inappropriate things to the one interpreter while the other interpreter was trying to do her job, and vice versa. The interpreter would be watching their conversation and trying really hard not to be unprofessional and laugh. The other two were also frequently trying not to laugh out loud and disturb the meeting, which they did with varying success. The interpreters didn’t know what to do. They finally asked the big boss, Julie Bradley, what they should do about the situation so they could remain professional.
Julie decided to come down to the meeting and see what was going on for herself. Instead of behaving himself, Bob asked the interpreters why someone hadn’t made an air freshener for farts. You could stick it up there and when you farted it could emit a little puff of scent and be really nice. Or how about a whistle? Instead of the farting noise, it could whistle Yankee Doodle or Camp Town Races or something. Eventually this devolved into sticking a duck whistle up there. That way when you farted, you would emit a really loud duck call. After that he would draw pictures of ducks on pieces of paper and hold them up for the interpreters to see as they were trying to do their job.
And so the Duck Wars were born. It’s the interpreters against the Deaf teachers, and they both attempt to recruit students to their side. The interpreters started leaving Bob little plush ducks and things, and Bob chuckled in glee as he told us about the day he completely covered every inch of Julie’s office with yellow feathers. She duckified his office in retaliation a little while later, and now there are ducks all over the place. Most of the students seem to be on Juile’s side. As she points out, she teaches most of the interpreting classes and it’s kinda up to her whether we pass the program or not. I also think that, as future interpreters ourselves, we tend to side with our partners in occupation.
As Bob says, the Duck Wars are a great way to break the monotony at work and have a little fun among colleagues. I think it gives our department a little more personality. All the students love it, and it’s never disrupted our learning environment. In fact, I think it adds to it. It’s great to be in a serious class, but sometimes a little diversion helps you study better after it’s over. So if you’re going to Mt. SAC, slip someone a duck.