The phone was ringing as I walked into the computer lab. I didn’t bother to pick it up, because it’s usually not for me. Most of the time people call for the coach, as she has her classes in the lab most of the time. I use the room once a day, as do two others, but if the phone rings, it’s always the same conversation.
“Is Coach Crouse there?”
“No, I have class in here right now.”
“Oh.” There’s usually a pause at this point. “Who is this?”
“This is Ms. Marlow,” I usually respond patiently.
“Do you know where Coach Crouse is?”
Clearly she’s not here, I want to say, but I never do. “No, I have no idea where she goes during her off period,” I reply, emphasizing the last two words.
At this point, they either say “okay” and hang up, or they ask what room they just called. Somehow it’s like they don’t trust that they’re calling the right room, or that I’m actually telling the truth. I tell them, then they waste time asking about where the coach is for a few more seconds, and finally they hang up.
I was writing my bellwork on the board when the phone started ringing again. Irritated, I walked across the room to see who was calling. It said “front office,” so I figured we could run through our spiel at least once before the bell rang and the students came in. Hopefully the caller wouldn’t keep calling back, which happened last week as I tried to keep order in the room. “Hello?” I said.
“Is this Sherri?”
Me, stifling a big sigh, “No, this is Ms. Marlow.”
“Oh, good. You’re the one I was looking for.”
This is highly unusual. “Okay…”
“This is Patricia.”
“Oh, hi Patricia, what’s up?” Patricia is the principal’s secretary.
“Ms. George wants you to come to the cafeteria right away.”
Ms. George is the principal. This is weird. “Why?” I’m thinking that if it’s an emergency, there’s no way I’ll be of any help. I’m not big or scary looking like Coach Crouse. Maybe that’s really who they were hoping to get but had to take whoever answered the phone.
“She wants you to come and take photos of the students during lunch for the theme day.”
Oh. OH. OH. NOW?
Homecoming is on Friday, and our school has been hoping to increase school spirit by having theme days every day until Homecoming. Yesterday was Crazy day, where students dressed crazy. Today is Twin Day, where they… I don’t think I need to explain it further.
It’s pretty hard to get students at my school excited about anything, due to the general prison-like atmosphere that pervades the building. I’m sure the administration would love to display photos of students having fun and participating. I sure would. But not right now, when I have a class of nearly 30 sullen teens about to enter the room.
I clear my throat. “I have class.”
There’s a slight pause. “She needs someone now.” I can tell that Patricia is surprised and doesn’t know how to respond.
“Yeah, but I have MY CLASS coming in in just a few seconds.”
“Are there any yearbook students you could get?”
I close my eyes. “If I’d known about it before, sure. But I can’t get them now because I have to TEACH – MY – CLASS. ” I slow the last three words down significantly.
Patricia asks if there are any yearbook students at lunch now, and I can only think of two. She says
she’ll have them come to me to get instructions.
“No,” I say, “they don’t need to do that. Tell them the principal wants them to take photos, and they can use their cell phones.” I know she doesn’t want to say that, as cell phones are a no-no at my school, but how else are they going to get these precious, precious photos?
The bell rings as I hang up. I’m getting more and more aggravated as I think about the phone call I just had. I’m supposed to drop everything right now for a photo op? What the hell do you think my job is around here? Since when are TEACHERS supposed to just leave a roomful of kids to run and document things for the administration? Aren’t teachers supposed to, you know, teach?
What a fool I was...