Monday, November 10, 2008

I Should Have Worn a Disguise

My first teaching job was in a town of 9,000. This was back when I did the Big Deal Career Change and went back to school to become a teacher. I had a previous degree (B.S. in Business Management) and a pulse so I was hired by one of my professors, who also happened to be Superintendent of Schools, to work as a permanent substitute teacher when I wasn't in class.

I did this for three years and probably learned more about being a teacher by subbing than I ever did in a college classroom.

I also learned that with the job comes a certain lack of privacy, especially when you've probably been in every classroom in a small district and everyone under the age of 18 knows who you are. It got to the point that The Hubster and I would head east about 10 miles to the first town that wasn't in our district to do our shopping and eating out. We didn't have any privacy in the town we lived in - everyone knew what everyone did, where they ate, what they bought, who they spent time with. You couldn't work in the yard in your grubbies with your hair up on top of your head and dirt all over your face without having a visit from at least one student or parent in the neighborhood.

So, when I moved South (being an economic refugee from Up North, the Land of Taxes and No Jobs), one of the things I made certain of was that I didn't live in the same zone I taught in. I didn't want a long commute, but I also didn't want the lack of privacy I had before. Most of the time it works pretty well. I do run into kids at The Mall, and often at the Walmart near The School, but for the most part I live my life in relative obscurity which is how we like it.

And then I lost my mind this past Sunday and wanted to save some time and ended up shopping in The Zone.

Actually, my church is in The Zone, but it's a small country church and I never see students there, just the regular church goers and Mrs. Eagle and her family. So this past Sunday, after services and a quick trip to the gym, I realized I needed to get gas and go to the market. Now my usual grocery store is on the opposite side of town from where I was. It's not even that close to where I live, but I live in a part of town that's fairly new in terms of development so we don't have any markets near us. We got lucky and finally got a pizza joint this past year. We got a Walgreens a few months ago and people were ecstatic because they actually have some food items there and you don't have to drive twenty minutes to the closest market when all you need is some milk.

For a moment or two, I toyed with the idea of just going to my regular market. However, that would probably take an extra half hour and I was right near a Kroger, and one with gas pumps, and I could kill two birds with one stone so to speak. And after all, what are the chances of running into a student? It's Sunday morning, everyone is either at church, or breakfast, or somewhere else.

So, I did what I never do, and that's shop at the market in The Zone.

And ran into three students.

The parents are tickled to see me. One of the boys wasn't (he should be embarrased by the progress report that went out on Friday) but his mother made sure to come up and say hi and comment on how he should be embarrassed by his progress report. Hey, I was happy she actually saw it since many kids like to pretend they don't exist and don't show it to their folks. The other two students, both girls, giggled and smiled and commented on the fact that I was - gasp! - shopping.

Just like normal people do. Hell, I even use coupons because I'm on a budget like everyone else.

I think they believe we sleep under our desks.

It wasn't that bad, actually, although I know I'll have about a dozen kids come up to me tomorrow and comment on the fact that they heard I was at the Kroger store nearby. It could have been worse. I could have been buying liquor!


Mrs. T said...

Oh, I live in a town of about 100,000 people, but quite close to school. I see my students all the time- at church, at the mall (which I hardly ever go to, but when I do...). I had a dinner party at my house Sat. night and bought some wine to serve. Of COURSE I had to have not 1 but 2 of my students bag my groceries that afternoon.

Welcome... said...

I totally understand. I live in a town of 7,000. I have taught for 32 years and end up having almost every student for reading in the middle school. We drive at least 20 miles to eat and then I still run into students and parents I have had in school.

Anonymous said...

Oh! I sometimes swing by the Giant near my school so I can run into families. But I only buy boring things like yogurt and Cheerios. I think it's good for them to see me as a real live human being.

That being said, I swear, anytime I buy beer in Virginia (I live in Washington, DC), I run into one of my students with his family. Nothing says professional quite like a case of Sam Adams.

W.R. Chandler said...

With a city area of about 2 million and a half-hour commute to my school, I rarely if ever see my students out and about. There was one time when I was in MY zone, on a Saturday morning, taking my son to get his haircut, when a mother of one my students saw me in the parking lot, and then proceeded to try to talk to me about her daughter's grade.

C'mon lady!

Donalbain said...

A terrible happened to me when I was a long term substitute. I was drunk when I noticed that three girls I taught were also there. I summoned up my best sobriety, sent them on my way, and then went home, my evening suitably ruined.

It wasn't even in the same town as the school, but they had chosen to try a different town's pubs! I let the head deal with it back at school.