“I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry”
- Berry, Buck, Mills, Stipe. “Southern Central Rain (I’m sorry)” R.E.M.
For those of you who have missed my substitute teaching escapades, I have one that’s so embarrassing, I shouldn’t even be sharing it. This is like what NOT to do if you want to be a sub. My debacle is your entertainment.
The school year began a few weeks ago… without me. The new sub system is now first come, first serve. So if I don’t click on “Available Jobs” at the right time, there’s nothing. I finally saw a pre-k job, and while I thought, Do I really want a pre-k job?, the opportunity disappeared. (Disclaimer: I was called for a 2-day job on the first day of school, but I had already taken myself off the list because I had a job interview. I didn’t get the job.)
Demoralized, I called Human Resources. This is what I found out:
Yes, the subs were having the same problem as me, pressing the button over and over.
Yes, the gatekeeper used to distribute the jobs fairly during lean times.
There have been only about 10 jobs per 50 subs per day, up to that point.
But I shouldn’t worry because cold weather is coming, so teachers will be sick soon.
Where’s Swine Flu when you need it?
Then a job popped up for NEXT WEEK. Even though it was a math tutor gig (read: suicide mission), I took it. At this point, I was desperate.
Wednesday morning, around 7:45 am, a job opened up to teach P.E. at the Montessori school the next day. Sigh of relief. Those of you who have followed by blog for a while know about those gym jobs.
I perked up. My husband perked up. Truthfully, I think he was ready to divorce me. I’ve been in a whirlwind of writing and have had a few tiny ego boosts. But that doesn’t pay the bills… yet.
Cheerily, I drove the children to school. Somewhere on Beacon Street, almost at the school, I wondered, Is today the 21st or the 22nd? The job was for the 22nd. But that was the next day, right? I asked my son to check his calendar on his iPod. He didn’t bring it. Believe me - that’s even crazier than me not knowing the date. (In my defense, we were told any new jobs that came in after 6:30 am would be calls rather than online.)
I pushed the pedal to the metal the rest of the way to school, and threw them out of the car.
“Why are you in a rush?” my daughter asked.
“I have a job, TODAY. And I’m supposed to be there NOW,” I cried.
Start time: 8:00. Actual time: 8:40.
Then I sped off as I fumbled for my phone. These were desperate times so I paid for information. (Gasp!) I said something like:
“I’m Theresa Milstein, and I’m supposed to sub gym today, but the job posted late, and I thought it was tomorrow. I’m sorry. I’ve never done this. I’ll be there in about 20 minutes.”
“No problem,” the secretary chirped other line.
Beacon Street on the way home is always a long line of cars making their way into Boston. Have I ever mentioned that I HATE being LATE? At this point, I was chanting in my head over and over, It’s okay to be late. It’s okay to be late.
Okay, maybe I was saying this aloud. Don’t judge me.
HOME. I threw breakfast and lunch into a bag, slipped on some gym shoes, and was about to leave. I knew this teacher worked at two schools, so I decided to make sure she was at the one school first. In my frazzled state, it looked to me like she actually started at the other school.
AACK! I called the secretary at the other school and said (see my quote above). And she responded (see my quote above).
I sped to the other school, knots in my stomach. But then I remembered this school doesn’t start until 9:00 am, so I’d only be fifteen minutes late. Not too bad. Maybe I’d luck out and first period would be free.
Parking was too easy. I ran to the gym. The other P.E. teacher seemed surprised to see me. Then he told me she was at the OTHER school ALL DAY.
At this point, I was beginning to wonder why anyone would even consider hiring me for a full-time job. Not only did I have the wrong date, but I’d also read her schedule for the wrong day.
Once back in the car, I called information again and told the secretary at the first school and told her what I’d done. Got to the school. Guess what. Go on, take a guess.
It was street cleaning. (Should I just give up and go home now?) Driving in reverse an entire block, I snagged a spot.
Time of arrival: 9:30 am.
The secretary had me sign in without a trace of judgment on her face. I apologized again.
Then I made it to the gym as the 2nd class ended. Thank goodness there are two teachers assigned to most of the gym classes. The P.E. teacher was nice about it. He wouldn’t even let me give him an extra prep to run a group myself. I worked my butt off the rest of the day to shine up my tarnished reputation.
I’m the teacher with the Scarlet L.
It was good to see the kids, who’d grown over the summer. But one four-year-old stepped on top of child. The other teacher told her to, “Say sorry.” She sobbed instead. She had to sit on the sidelines. She sobbed some more. We gave her about seven opportunities to apologize and join the class. She refused. And sobbed.
This girl put everything in perspective. At least I didn’t trample anyone, but had only been tardy. And I apologized (many, many times). I didn’t even sob.