Friday, February 06, 2015

The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Doorstop

I hadn't been in a classroom for over a decade until this year, but it turns out classroom air can be just as bad as trailer air. Not only that, but the heat in classrooms is fairly reliable, and often seems to be working overtime. The story I always hear is that custodians must burn enough heat this year to get their budget for the next year. I don't know whether that's true, but it would certainly explain the stifling heat I've experienced in multiple school buildings.

My students will turn on the air conditioner in the middle of January. It sounds ridiculous, but I was there when they did it, and it kind of made sense. Me, I've taken to leaving the door open. This is harder than it sounds. Every door in the building I'm in should stay open if you leave it that way, but most don't. However, an office I work in has a door that actually stays open by itself, I discovered. So I was kind of surprised that everyone used a doorstop to keep it open.

In my classroom, the only way to keep the door open was with a student desk. This is kind of cumbersome and inconvenient. It also blocks the door in case of an emergency. In the trailers, there are fire extinguishers that do the job pretty well. No such luck in the classroom. So I pondered the issue, and decided to steal the doorstop from the office. People were shocked. Where's the doorstop? How can I keep this door open? But I opened it, and they were uniformly shocked to find it stayed that way.

Moving the doorstop was kind of gross. It seemed to be covered by thirty years of filth. But alas, it was for the good of the students. Why should they breathe the foul air engendered by heating the room to 90 degrees in January? Some of my students are from tropical countries and have no idea what it's like to be cold. So I dragged the thing up, found a bathroom that had soap, and washed my hands a little more thoroughly than usual.

Everything was fine for a while, until, alas, my doorstop disappeared. I was very disappointed. After all, I had stolen that thing fair and square. Had some unscrupulous colleague come along and seen an opportunity? I will never know. It looked like the desk in doorway, yet again.

But after thinking about it for a while, I noticed that several department offices had doorstops. Where had they come from? One thing they fail to tell you about when you're studying to be a teacher is the necessity of making friends with whoever's in the supply room. After all, there's always the need for another marker, piece of chalk, eraser, and who knows what else your princely 62 dollars of Teachers Choice won't cover.

My friend in supplies reached into a box and pulled out a brand new doorstop. It wasn't as big as the old one, but size isn't everything, or so they say. It was all wrapped up and looked like it could've easily come from the 99 cent store. Doubtless the DOE paid 85 bucks for it. But I pulled it out of the package, it was far less gross than its predecessor, and it seemed to get the job done.

Last week, though, there was a disaster. Some careless student kicked doorstop number two right out the door. Then another kid played with it, kicking it farther down the hall. This was unacceptable! I chased my precious doorstop halfway down the hall until I could retrieve it, battered but ready to keep that goshdarn door open.

And there it stayed until yesterday. But I walked into my period 7 class, and it was nowhere to be found. The social studies teacher who preceded me claimed ignorance. I was suspicious, but as far as I know she'd never lied to me before. I reluctantly took her word, and dragged a student desk to keep the door open.

But then, as I was writing something on the board, I looked over to my telephone box and there, above it, was my doorstop safe and sound. I shall never doubt the word of that social studies teacher again.
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