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Thursday, January 22, 2009

But where do you put it all?

For me to say that I have a guest poster today is a bit of an understatement, so let me try a different approach.

Today, I have a GUEST POSTER who went above and beyond the call of duty, submitting an entry that comes in at over 1,000 words! That's more than two of my columns combined!!

The prolific writer in question is the one, the only -- Mrs. T! No relation to me, I just happened to come across her blog very early on in my own early writing days, and I've been hooked ever since. Mrs. T is un maestra espanol -- a Spanish teacher -- in Iowa. I encourage everyone to check out her blog, La Chucheria, which I believe means, "The Cookie Monster."

Her post is about. . . well. . . stuff. Enjoy.
Hello, it’s Mrs. T here, guest-posting for Mr. Teacher. I wish I could do it in person, since our actual temperatures have been around -20ยบ F the past few days and I’m fairly certain that it’s much nicer in Texas.

Remember how George Carlin had this bit that he did about Stuff? You buy a house to put your stuff in and then you get more stuff and you have to buy a bigger house and then you spend time worrying that someone’s going to take your stuff and they always take the good stuff when they do? Remember that? Well, teachers have got stuff. Not to generalize, but I’m going to because I’ve taught all levels, and it seems that elementary teachers tend to have more stuff than others. Some of you may already be nodding your heads in agreement. If it makes you feel any better, I’ll be inclusive here and say “we” for the duration. We hoard stuff- especially supplies- mostly because we can never count on the budget, so if there are paper clips to be had, by golly we’ll take 4 boxes. We scavenge- proof positive being that the chair I use at school is one pulled out of the trash.

We then become quite territorial about our stuff- even stuff that is technically not our stuff. We write our names on pieces of masking tape and stick them on our stuff, along with our classroom number. We do this numerous times. My fans at school say “Mrs T Rm 222” on all sides that are visible. In addition to the masking tape trick, we also write with permanent marker directly on certain stuff of which we are particularly fond. Underlining and exclamation marks can be added for emphasis. We do this at the end of the year in anticipation of the yearly “deep cleaning” that is to be done during the summer, when all of a room’s contents are placed in the hallways so that the floors and walls and ceilings can be boiled, or whatever they do to them. The cleaning is nice, but it leaves all of our stuff vulnerable to some over-achiever who happens to be in the building over the summer and takes a shine to that odd table you got from Mr. Jarvis who retired 4 years ago. And just like that (*snap!) it’s gone.

The end of the year is prime stuff-getting season. People are retiring or leaving the building. This is when people start trolling the halls. They strike up conversations with colleagues they’ve never given a second thought. They stop in just to chat, to well-wish. They are not to be trusted. They only want filing cabinets and bookshelves and kidney-shaped tables and cubbies made by the shop class in 1957.

So, aside from being a stuff vulture, what does one do when one needs stuff? I was in need of stuff once. I had just come to the building where I currently teach. I was to be a “travelling teacher”, in that I would go from room to room with my stuff on a cart. I was to have my own desk and a corner of another classroom- a home base of sorts. Great. So, I show up and thanks to my roommate, I’ve got a bookshelf, a computer cart, a filing cabinet, a wooden cabinet with 5 drawers, a cart to take from class to class, and a chair. A chair, but no desk. I was assured that a request had been made the previous May, that a desk would be coming soon. The next morning, no desk. I was starting to wig at this point. I needed a desk. My pens and cough drops and index cards desperately needed a home. This just would not do.

My colleagues and I decided to take matters into our own hands. We scoped out the Closet Under the Stairs, which is really a huge storage area where desks and chairs go to die. After scoping out the desk that we were going to swipe, we made plans to do the deed after our big, Beginning of the Year Meeting, still kind of hoping that the desk would show up during the meeting and then we wouldn’t have to steal one.

So, into the dungeon we go. We spot the desk and each take an end. We attempt to pick it up and carry it. No can do. Those things double as a Fallout Shelter- there’s no picking them up. But, we are determined. We count to 3 and HEAVE and shuffle. 1, 2, 3, HEAVE/shuffleshuffleshuffle. We’ve done this for about 12 feet when along comes Mr. Burns, one of the teachers in our department, who proceeds to have a conversation with us without acknowledging the fact that we are herniating ourselves right before his very eyes. “Hi, Mrs. T- what did you think of that meeting? I just wish they’d give us more time to work in our rooms, don’t you? That’s what they used to do, but then they got all caught up in having us be in meetings….”. Um, yeah. Do you not see that I’ve got a 2 ton desk I’m trying to heave down the hallway into my classroom before I get busted by the custodian?

After much heaving and shuffling and subsequent giggling, we did get the desk into the classroom. The drawers were filled. The calendar/blotter received its rightful place in the center. I went home that afternoon feeling that all was right with the world. Until the next day, when I unlocked the classroom door, turned on the lights, only to find… ANOTHER DESK. Apparently, the Desk Fairy only makes deliveries at night. We figured, oh well, we’ve got a big enough classroom, we can actually use this other desk. We made room for it and went on with our day. We went home that afternoon thinking that all was right with the world. Until the next day, when we opened the door to find yet another desk. That made 3 desks delivered to our room. This one, we had no room for. We had no use for. What to do? Which brings up the matter of Getting Rid of Stuff….

Hey, I bet if enough people pestered Mrs. T on her blog, she would actually write the sequel about getting rid of stuff. :)


Priest said...

OMG, *HOOT*!!! Okay, okay, I'm hooked. Come on Ms. T. cough up (or is that write up?) the rest of this saga. George Carlin and his stuff bit. I watched that a few weeks ago on a TV special featuring Wild Man George. Very, very, "blue" comedy Ms. T. and oh so shocking you know it well :)

Anonymous said...

Very entertaining! I guess I have another blog to add to my RSS feed if that's typical of Mrs T's posts!

I finally got a classroom of my own this year so I thought I could start accumulating stuff. Then my room was designated a storage room and they started filling it up with stuff other people didn't want. Then the physical therapists were assigned to my room too and large mats arrived - and what looked like a noose was hung from the ceiling for the swings they use. And now things have started disappearing again - there's one teacher in particular who keeps coming in and saying "You don't need that do you? Can I have it?" I wish she would take the hole in the ceiling and the noose!