The Outsider


Oh, thank you Gold 104. Not only do your classic hits bring back memories for baby boomers, but for me as well. As ACDC's Long Way to The Top blared out of speakers older than the song in a local shop, a memory from high school flashed into my brain.

It's so wonderful, I can't believe I'd forgotten the moment. It concerns a teacher who, to protect his identity, I shall refer to by his initials.

Mr. OP was a stickler for rules and technicalities. For example: If you were walking in a quiet residential area and tried to cross the road while Mr. OP was turning into the street, he'd run you over crying, "I've got right of way! I've got right of way!" You may be dead, but he had right of way.

Appropriately, Mr. OP taught year 10 legal studies. If a student was late to class, Mr. OP would send them outside immediately, regardless of the reason or circumstance. It wouldn't matter if you'd come from sickbay, or were new to the school and couldn't find the room, nothing mitigated the fact you were tardy. Even if he'd sent a student to another room to pick up text books for the class, if upon their return Mr. OP had started teaching, time outside awaited.


One afternoon, Michael, a classmate, walked into Mr. OP's legal studies class two seconds late and quietly singing to himself the chorus of ACDC's It's A Long Way to The Top.

As soon as, "If you wanna rock 'n' roll," passed his lips, Mr. OP barked, "It's a long way to the top if you wanna get outside!"

I recall at the time feeling this was the greatest comment ever made to anyone. It was so bad and yet so perfect, that it's worth taking a moment to dissect its brilliance.

It is the most teacher comment I heard during my secondary schooling, but the speed was amazing. It was so fast, you'd have thought it was pre planned; as though he had it in the bank in case someone ever strolled into class singing ACDC. And the delivery! Mr. OP left a slight pause for emphasis before, "if you wanna get outside" and delivered the words staccato to drill 'em home.

The best part, and herein lies the comment's genius, is that if you think about it, Mr. OP's witticism doesn't make any sense. It's a long way to the top if you wanna get outside? What the shit does that even mean?

It's grammatically all over the shop. For the sentence to work, it would need to be altered to "if you wanna go outside". But even then he's implying on the road to success, choosing 'outside' as a career path is the harder route. Who is trying to make it big by going outside? What opportunities are there for people who simply venture out the door? Are parents urging their kids not to chase the dream of walking outside, insisting they obtain a university degree as a fall back?

Also, I don't think my classmate wanted to be outside. In fact, I'm fairly certain that's why he came in, otherwise he would have just stayed out there.

But if Michael had sung a different ACDC song, would Mr. OP's quip have remained the same, or would he have adapted? If Michael strutted in singing, "I got a whole lotta Rosie," would Mr. OP have shot back, "You got a whole lotta lunchtime detention"? Or would he have said, "You got a whole lotta get outside!"?

I think the latter. Mr. OP's goal was for everyone to be outside and he'd bend, wedge and play off any lyric to send you out.

You've been thunderstruck - "You've been sent outside."

You shook me all night long - "You shook me all the way outside."

Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap - "Dirty deeds, done outside"

Rock and roll aint noise pollution - "Rock and roll aint, er, um, get outside!"

I'll never know why Mr. OP's was obsessed with the realm out the door. Perhaps he always wanted to teach outdoor ed? Maybe he saw outside as lawless place without boundaries, where teenagers would realise the importance of his inane rules and crappy wordplay? All I know that if I ever need to finish a legal document with a moronic quip, I know who to call.

"I've got right of way!"