"Absolutely. I'll be back in my room in a minute, but the door's open."
Mr. Shrouder and I began eating lunch together during the second week of school as a way to build community. As the weeks went on, we gained a few other teachers. I began to cherish my lunches with my colleagues in Seattle as a necessary time of day to relax from the stress of the school day. If I hadn't found Mr. Shrouder, I might be eating lunch on my own every day, which is probably what the administration would like - less teachers talking.
I drop my stuff off in my room and grab my Amy's Vegetarian Chili that I eat out of a can and some almonds and head to Mr. Shrouder's room where I have a seat on a stool at a lab station and get out my can opener.
Two colleagues are already in there and chatting.
"Are you going to the transfer fair in March?"
"It's going to be here you know. You know they are going to be watching."
"I really don't care anymore. I've got to get out of this place."
"Did you hear about Mr. G's evaluation?"
"No. What happened?"
"I heard Ms. Principal saw Ms. Administrator's evaluation of him and told Ms. Administrator she needed to lower his scores."
"What?! Did she observe Mr. G too?"
"Nope, Ms. P just doesn't want Mr. G on staff next year."
"Well you know what happened to the union leader last year."
"She was fired, and was later found to have been wrongfully terminated."
*Everyone shakes their head.*
"Well how did your day go today Mr. Shrouder?"
"Today was better than yesterday, but not in third period. I don't know what it is with them. I just let them leave whenever they want now. I can't do anything about it. After Makale lit her shoe on fire today with the Bunsen burner and Trey threw a book at her, I just had to stop everything."
"Does Ms. Administrator know about that."
"Not yet. She has been somewhat helpful in providing feedback though."
"Guess what Ms. Administrator told me yesterday: She comes up to me in the mail room and says, 'I have bad news, and I have worse news. The bad news is you're going to have to teach an extra section of middle school than we told you yesterday. The worse news is that they're standing outside of your door right now.'"
"Holy cow. Can this school not work out some sort of system for reasonable scheduling and appropriate notification of teachers?"
"I guess this is what happens when a teacher quits about every month."
"Well I don't know how those bastards get to be so lucky. I can't afford to quit. Plus I have to finish up these waste-of-my-time grad classes at American for DCTF."
(This sucks. I wish we could talk about positive things. But I bring up this negative stuff as much as anyone. It's hard not to with the amount of stuff you hear about around here on a daily basis. At least a lot of the stories around here are so outrageous that we can laugh really hard at them. The only other thing a rational person would do is cry.)
"I went for my planned meeting with Mr. Megalomaniac today. Guess who wasn't available."
"Well of course not."
"You know he hangs out down in the main office to avoid his responsibilities."
"Yea, yea, nothing new there."
I see we've got about ten minutes before lunch is over, get up to get some water before I have to get my fourth period ready.
"See you guys. Have a good fourth!"