“They dropped Richard,” she said to me, before I could reach my desk.
“Good morning,” I reply, never one to drop good manners. Especially if I can feel superior in the process.
She is one of our teachers, as well as one of our parents. Strangely, I see her most often in her parent role.
Teachers I like. Parents? Hit or miss. Mostly miss.
“Sorry. Good morning. Anyway, they dropped him. We got an email on Friday.”
They being the community college where young lad Richard is dual enrolled as a high school student. She is telling me this because I serve as the High School Dual Coordinator.
My title is not as impressive as you think, and I’m fully aware you’re not impressed.
“Did you call them?” I ask. Why, I don’t know, as it only serves to lengthen the conversation. I hear of her frustration, her current stress level, her despair for her son’s education. Also, the reason she didn’t call.
I have yet to put my lunch in the fridge.
“I’ll call for you,” I tell her, carefully avoiding eye contact. This is code for ‘you may now leave.’ Unfortunately most people are lousy at deciphering code.
“They’re so stupid over there,” she begins. “It happened last year too. I swear, it makes me want to teach at _______.” (She names our rival high school.)
My head jerks up, not from the blasphemy she just uttered, but from her incredible leap in logic.
“Huh?” I say. (I’m sure it came across intelligently in real life.)
“Then I wouldn’t have to teach dual,” she explained.
I resist telling her they do do dual, however much I enjoy saying do do in a sentence, because I remain anxious to end this conversation. I have yogurt in my bag.
After a few more rants on the nature of stupid websites and her inability to navigate them, she leaves. I deposit my lunch in the fridge, say hello to a few co-workers because I’ve heard that’s a nice thing to do, and I arrive back at my desk to find Stickler #1 and Stickler #2 waiting for me.
Every office has a Stickler. These are the people who know all the rules, follow all the rules, and can’t understand why other people have trouble following rules. And as much as we hate to admit it, every office needs a Stickler.
We have two.
“Are any of your file cabinets empty?” Stickler #1 asks me.
“Huh?” I ask. Again, most intelligently.
“People keep putting things in the vault,” Stickler #2 adds, referring to the large safe where student files are kept. “We tell them it’s not a storage room, but they just keep piling stuff in there.”
“It’s a real problem,” continues Stickler #1, “so we were hoping we could put the stuff over here with you.”
She is pointing at the wall of file cabinets behind me. Eight rows of them, four drawers in each row. Most are used by the other offices, as I’m not a real hoarder when it come to paperwork. If I was smart, I’d charge rent.
I show Stickler #1 and Stickler #2 the drawers I’ll donate to their cause. They thank me profusely.
Word to the wise: Always stay on the good side of your office Sticklers. It’ll come in handy the next time you break a rule.
As soon as they’re gone, three students approach my desk. “Good morning,” I say. “Are you looking for someone?” I recognize two of them as Special Ed students.
“Can you call a vet?” one of the girls ask.
“Huh?” I say, all intelligence gone by this point.
“A vet. You know, an animal doctor?”
“Um… well, there’s not a vet on campus,” I point out. “Why do you want a vet?”
“I found a hurt bird,” the other girl says, and she steps forward.
In her hands, snuggled up to her chest, she’s holding a FREAKIN’ BIRD!
I’m no longer in my chair, as my chair is knocked over and I’m standing a full three feet behind it.
“That should be outside,” I say, in a tone most reasonable, as sometimes hysteria is perfectly reasonable.
“Our teacher told us to take it to the nurse,” the boy says.
“Who’s your teacher?” I ask, because I always ask. Whenever a student claims a teacher told them to do something ridiculous, I ask.
They say a name I don’t recognize. “Is that your sub?” They nod. I now imagine a woman on campus having a morning very similar to my own. My heart goes out to her.
Well, it will go out to her. Right now I have to get this freakin’ bird out of my line of vision. It’s made a few squawking/chirping sounds that I translate to mean, “You remember the movie, Birds, yes? Tippi got off easy. You won’t be so lucky.”
I make my way up front toward the nurse’s office. It’s not that I plan on shoving this off on the nurse, but– okay, let’s be honest. I’m going to shove this off on the first person I see.
Oh! There’s the Receptionist! She’ll do!
There are many reasons I think our receptionist is THE BEST receptionist in the entire universe, not least of which because she follows this blog. (Hi Pam!) Mainly, it’s because she understands me.
Especially when my eyes are wide with fear and I’m backing away, saying, “You can help them, right? Yeah? Okay, thanks! Gotta go!”
After my heart rate returns to normal, I call to apologize.
“No problem,” she tells me. “I found a box and told them I’d call the custodian. He’ll take care of it.”
I detected air quotes over her final words: he’ll “take care of it.”
“Bless you,” I said.
“Don’t mention it,” she said, but I’m mentioning it anyway.
I look at the clock; only eight more hours to go.