Thursday, February 7, 2013


I don't drive to school much, I take the bus and train but sometimes the universe arranges itself so there is a car at my disposal. 

I got stuck in front of the firetruck on the overpass between two highways.  It screamed at me for a good two minutes,-which any kid can tell you the louder you get screamed at the harder it is to figure out what to do next.  I don't know how I got out of it but, no sooner had I gotten down the road a bit and was beginning to breathe normally again,  an ambulance pulled up behind me and the sirens blasted again.  Twenty-three degrees in New York and I arrived in school sweated out.

And that was the easy part of the day.  

I was speaking with the math assistant principal, when a pretty young woman who struggled with English, asked, "Mr., are you busy?"  

"Yes, of course," he answered, and she stood by the side and waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.
Finally he asked what she needed.

"No teacher, in room"- she got out in broken English.
"Well, what teacher does it say on your schedule?" he asked and took the paper from her hand.

If you guessed, Ms. Teacherfish, you guessed right.  I  was at the assistant principal's office confirming I had been given a new schedule, which of course, he had no record of.   I hustled down to the room on the young lady's program card and gave my new class, the new class spiel in English and then in Spanish.  And then repeated it three times as two more groups identified that in fact there was indeed a new math class in said room. 

The next period was Resource Room, and if I thought things couldn't go worse.  I was wrong.  The state monitor arrived.  

We spend an inordinate amount time worrying about being "monitored".  Perhaps that comes from spending a year on the closing school list, only escaping doom at the last moment when an independent arbitrator decided that even an all powerful mayor needs to adhere to contracts. 

The monitor entered our resource room. On a good day there isn't enough  room to swing a dead cat. (I don't know what that means exactly, but the one piece of feedback we got was don't use idioms)  She spent the next forty-five minutes, sliding between my half of the room and the other half occupied by a different group of students.  With a different teacher- equally  flummoxed. 

Lucky for me, my side is smaller, with less chairs.  She spent more time on their side.

We discussed a New York Times editorial about Women in Combat,  Shaggy, so nicknamed, because he reminds the rest of the group of the character in Scooby Doo cartoon, kept his head up the whole period and played it straight.  When I thanked him later, Carlos said, "You tell us  not to accuse anyone of using illegal substances if we don't have proof"

That's not what I meant by playing it straight.  That's why, I guess I shouldn't use idioms.

Alfonso wanted to talk about the decorated sniper who was shot to death at a shooting range in Texas.  I asked him to connect it to the article.  Miraculously he did.

Freida volunteered the correct, counter argument, it is the second time she's spoken aloud this semester.

Paulo said there was only one  four star woman general.  I said, I didn't  know that for a fact but he found the line in the article that proved him right immediately.  

Was the monitored impressed?  I have no idea, all I heard from the head of our department was the don't use idiom thing.

Later I started to calm down, what did it matter what she thought?  I sat with seven young people in a crowded overheated room who could discuss  a New York Times editorial with insight and conviction. Why should I care if anyone else was impressed?

And so I made it through the end of the day- calmed down considerably.  I had a meeting in Brooklyn in the evening  but the kind lady voice inside my cell phone was directing me there and I was getting into my "what me worry?" mode when a woman pulled up next to me and signaled that I should roll down my window.  I figured she was going to tell me that my scarf was hanging out the car door.

"You should check your right rear tire," she said,  "I think the lugs are loose and it might  fall off."

It didn't.
The day ended uneventfully. 
I survived.

Cue the Mama told me there'd be days like this- music.

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