Monday, June 27, 2016

God or Alcohol?

I was talking to some teachers the other day, and like many of us, they are freaked out of their minds. They say they got into this job because they'd expected a modicum of security, and they're just not feeling it these days. Everywhere you have to dodge falling pianos, and anyone who gets crushed by one is deemed ineffective. (In fairness, it's tough to be an effective teacher after a grand piano has fallen on  your head.)

But I digress. We started talking about the end-term party. I used to go every year, feeling some sort of sacred obligation as chapter leader. But, truth be told, I'm not a huge fan of blaring disco music, and I wasn't fond of being with a bunch of people I really couldn't talk to. I used to go there for a while and quietly slip out when I thought no one was looking. The next day, people would ask, "Hey, did you slip out of that party when you thought no one was looking?" My ninja moves are not as slick as I'd hoped.

But my friends were more excited about it than I was. They were gonna dance. I don't always feel like dancing, although maybe after a few drinks I could be persuaded. The thing is, I have to drive home from this place, and I won't have more than one drink if I'm driving. I spent my wayward youth playing music at bars, and I'm the only musician I know who hasn't been arrested for DUI. I'm trying to keep my record intact and, you know, not get killed or kill anyone while driving home.

But my friends had a plan. They had a designated driver. So it was OK. Then they talked about bringing a flask. I said there was an open bar, so why bother? They countered it was only beer and wine. One of them, evidently, had some sort of liquor that was almost pure alcohol, and no matter how much you drank you could not get a hangover. I was pretty impressed, but not overly tempted. I still would have to drive home, and I still would have to listen to disco music.

But I had to ask--why did they need to drink such intense stuff? Well, you know, the stress of the job. I asked if everyone in their department was an avid drinker. They said no, but that some had found religion. They lived it, breathed it, talked about it all the time. There was no getting away from it. There were two ways to deal with this job, and I needed to choose one right away.

Then we started talking about children. "For God's sake, you're not gonna let your kid be a teacher, are you?" The only reason they hadn't quit yet was because their AP wasn't crazy, but that could change at any minute, and then they'd be at the mercy of Charlotte Danielson and the deranged mind of some random administrator. It was too gruesome to even contemplate.

I'm always sad when people talk about this job as something our children should avoid. I'm very proud when my students tell me they want to do my job. One of my former beginning ESL students is a math teacher at my school, and I smile every time I see her. I'd hate to think we'd left her in a worse position than I was when we began. That's kind of on us, isn't it?

Anyway, according to my colleagues, there were only two ways to deal. You either embraced religion and trusted in divine providence, or embraced alcohol as a way to place it our of your mind. I'm gonna make it my mission in life to try to forge an alternate path.
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