Thursday, March 15, 2007

I'm in the dark here...

The building I teach in celebrated its 41st year this past year. It's undergone a lot of changes during that time, including new wings being added on to accommodate student growth. In fact, we just opened up a new wing a little over a year ago (including our science lab), and another wing was opened just a few years before that.

I teach in the old part of the building, and I actually prefer that. Sure, the room is oddly shaped because the building was originally built to look something like a wheel with the main office as the hub and classroom areas radiating off as spokes. And true, there's absolutely no storage, no counters, etc., outside of what I've managed to scrounge over the past few years. But it's close to everything. It's close to guidance, it's close to Mr. Enforcer and Mrs. Squirrel, and it's pretty much the center of it all. It's convenient.

However, this mixture of old and new means is that the building has a whole bunch of different operating systems running the whole thing.

Which can cause problems when it comes to thinks like, say, lights.

Last week, around Tuesday, or maybe it was Wednesday (who can keep track?), Mr. Social Studies and a few others of us noticed that some of our light banks were blinking a bit. It was real subtle, almost to the point where you would wonder if it was just a figment of your imagination. Then it got worse. The blinking became a lot more pronounced. A bank of lights would go off, the emergency lights would go on, and then the emergency lights would go off and the regular lights would go on.

Over and over. Until finally, they....just...went....out.

By Friday afternoon, the front bank of lights in my room was out, and so were the emergency lights. The only working lights in my room were towards the back. Fortunately my LCD projector, document reader, computer, and all that were obviously on another circuit because they all worked. Mr. Social Studies wasn't so lucky. He had more lights (only one panel went out), but his LCD projector went out as well. So, being the resourceful guy he is, he brought in an extension cord and draped it across his ceiling towards a plug that had power. Other teachers here in the older part of the building had similar experiences.

So, we notified the Secretary who tried to notify The Only Guy in The District Who Fixes This Stuff (keep in mind we something like 25 buildings), who wasn't being really good about answering his phone.

People came out and gazed at light fixtures.

A couple of ladders appeared, panels were moved, ladders disappeared.

Occasionally we'd see someone with big tool bags walking around looking into corners and staring at the ceiling.

Mr. Social Studies reported overhearing a conversation between Two Guys With Toolbelts who said something along the lines of "I remember doing some wiring with some fuse box out here a number of years ago with Elmer. Can't for the life of me remember where that fuse box was and Elmer, he's passed on a few years ago so I can't ask him."

In the meantime, it's gloomy and dark in my room. I've always been a person who really liked a lot of light, and now, after spending about a week in the dark in my classroom, I can tell that I need a lot more light than I've been getting. I'm cranky, the kids are cranky, and my plants are drooping. We couldn't take much more of this.

Mr. Social Studies reports another conversation between the Two Guys With Toolbelts who mention remembering where the mysterious fuse box was and "dang, that sucker was glowing red hot when we found it!"

Oh good. I'm glad they found the silly thing before we ended up with a real fire and not just a drill.

And now, at last, I have light.

And tomorrow is Friday.

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