Dear Dr. Wallace:

My geometry teacher is very strict. Yesterday I was five seconds late to her class, and she locked the door so I couldn’t get in. In fact, she slammed the door in my face. I knocked on the door, but she wouldn’t let me in. Rather than sit on the floor outside the room, I went home because this was my last class of the day.

Now I’m in more hot water because she turned me in for ditching her class. My friend, who is in the same class, said that five minutes before the period ended, she unlocked the door and peaked out into the hall looking for me. Now I’ve got four hours of Saturday detention for cutting a class I didn’t really cut. It’s like a parent who kicks you out of the house and then calls the police to report you as a runaway.

This is the first time I’ve ever had to serve a detention for any reason. I feel ripped off. My mother wants to go to the school and protest my detention, but I won’t let her do it. All this happened because I was late, and that was my responsibility. I don’t need my mama to fight my battles. Please give me your thoughts. I am aware that you are a former high school principal.

— Anonymous,

Kansas City, Mo.

Dear Anonymous: I feel the teacher could have found a better way to discipline you for being five seconds tardy to her class. Locking you out of her classroom wasn’t, in my opinion, a good call. Students cannot learn geometry sitting in the hall. But you made a mistake by going home. You should have gone to see an administrator or counselor and asked what to do. Serve your detention, and make sure you are never late to class again — especially geometry.

Dr. Wallace: You keep harping about the evils of smoking and the great cancer scare for nonsmokers who breathe secondhand smoke. Isn’t it a fact that a person who has never smoked even one cigarette and never breathed one puff of secondhand smoke could still die from lung cancer?

— Curious

Dear Curious: Yes, it is true that it’s possible for a person who has never smoked or even breathed secondhand smoke to die from lung cancer. Yet according to the American Cancer Society, if no one smoked, 83 percent of lung cancer would eventually be eliminated. Still, there are those who do not believe that breathing secondhand smoke is harmful. The American Cancer Society researched women who did not smoke and were married to a man who smoked a pack of cigarettes daily and found that these women had double the risk of lung cancer than the women who didn’t smoke and were married to nonsmokers. The American Cancer Society is a highly professional, reputable organization, and I take its words to be accurate, educational and cautionary!

Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.