Bussen vs. Hessel


Matthew Broder

I’d like to think Mr. Bussen and I are friends. As vehemently as he would deny this, I have a sneaking suspicion that I might just be his favorite student on campus. I mean, we’re on a first name basis at this point. It is my firm belief that Tim and I would have taken over campus by this point had I ever been in one of his classes. We could have used those class periods for our conniving and conspiring. Alas, as he could tell you, the best laid plans of mice and men oft are led awry.

I’d also like to think that Mr. Hessel (whom my lawyers have advised me against calling Scotty) are good friends too. As sure as my name is Matthew Broder and NOT Matty as some would tell you, he’s been a great teacher and an even better form master. I’ve known him since freshman year, and he’s always been there for me.

But I’m sure you all know that Mr. Hessel and Mr. Bussen are sworn enemies. Both are hardly reticent regarding their feelings for each other. “His ferret eyes are like the proverbial window to his soul,” fumed Mr. Bussen at the sheer mention of the name ‘Hessel’, “and peering into them, I see what William Golding referred to as ‘mankind’s essential illness,’ that is, ABJECT SPIRITUAL CORRUPTION!” Maybe I’m just a better person, but I don’t see it. I don’t like his eyes either, but I wouldn’t quite say they’re ferret-like. Mr. Hessel was quick to fire back at this accusation. “Mr. Bussen may consider himself a craftsman of the English language, but in truth he peddles in falsehoods.” I didn’t know it was talk-like-Shakespeare day, but I appreciated the comment nonetheless.

Whose side am I to take in this bitter rivalry? I took to the hallways to gauge the opinions of the student body in hopes that they might sway me one way or the other. Forming my own opinions is too hard.

First, I sought the opinion of Greyson Antes. As STUCO President, he would know Mr. Hessel better than anyone. He informed me of a theory he’s been working on. “Basically,” he said, “I think Hessel is a robot created by Ian Crossey to do his bidding.” I had suspected as such, but in the spirit of true investigative journalism I feigned surprise and urged him to continue. Ian, he told me, was a dictator who needed his autocratic actions to be approved by a faculty member. And who better to do that than someone (or something) under his direct control? A Manchurian candidate of sorts, Mr. Hessel was turned loose upon Ian’s graduation and has been running on autopilot ever since. “He leaves STUCO meetings early, saying he needs to ‘charge his batteries’. Everyone thinks it’s a joke, but I have my suspicions,” commented Antes. His argument was convincing, I’ll give him that. But my mind wasn’t quite made up. I needed more intel.

I ran into STUCO Vice President Miles Pim next. He cut right to the chase. When prompted on Greyson’s theory, he quickly responded, “Greyson’s an idiot.” I couldn’t disagree with him, but I told him to go on. “Hessel isn’t a robot. But for someone who calls himself ‘democratic’ and claims to ‘serve the people’, his actions are worrying.” He reminded me of an incident that occurred at the end of last year regarding the supposed 100th day of in-person learning. Via this very publication, Mr. Bussen alleged that the day in question had actually been the 107th day of in-person learning. “Last I checked,” said Miles, “100 and 107 are not equal, yet Mr. Hessel wants us to think that they are. This is literally 1984.” He refused to elaborate further. I left the conversation even more confused.

With a dejected look on my face, I meandered down the hallway. I turned the corner heading to the 400s where I spotted Tariq Jassim, and my spirits were instantly lifted. Tariq had been my faithful co-investigator at the Birds Aren’t Real rally this past summer, and I trusted his opinion over anyone’s. But it didn’t help that what he told me was nearly unbelievable. He asserted that Mr. Bussen was an imposter! After an obligatory chuckle, I asked what he meant. “Everyone thinks Mr. Bussen is this funny, quirky guy,” Tariq said, “but underneath this façade he hides a dark core of deception.” I thought he was joking, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense. He upholds the thresholds of the teacher’s lounge with an iron fist. If you so much as take a step in there without express permission, he isn’t afraid to bring down the hammer. Why such secrecy? What is Bussen hiding in there? “The way he’s so strict about it, it’s gotta be the Ark of the Covenant or something,” said Tariq. Furthermore, he always has a cup of coffee with him. “But it’s not coffee he’s drinking,” Tariq told me, “It’s a secret elixir that grants him the ability to remember everyone’s name.” I mean, there’s no way he can remember the names of everybody he says hi to in the hallways.

You’re probably expecting me to give you an answer now as to whom I’ve chosen to pledge my allegiance. But I don’t think I can do that in good conscience. Jokes aside, I am incredibly grateful to have gotten to know these two wonderful people in my time at Priory. I’ve made fun of them plenty in this article, but when it comes to what actually matters, there’s nothing bad I could say. I have a deep respect for both of them and I can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done for me. I know many of you feel the same way, and I think we owe it to ourselves to let them, and all of the faculty, know just how much we appreciate them and all they do for us each and every day.