Dispatches from the Land of the Puzzle Palace: An English teacher blogs in the Baltimore City Public Schools
Monday, August 18, 2008
No longer “the teacher who works at Dunkin Donuts after school just to make ends meet.”
At around the 4:48 mark in this speech, Barack Obama speaks of “the teacher who works at Dunkin Donuts after school just to make ends meet.” When he spoke this same line in Baltimore this past May, a large cadre of students around me started chanting my name. Because I was the teacher at our school with a second job. It wasn't like I spoke of it in class, but you tell one kid you can't meet with him on this Tuesday after school because of your waiting tables job, and another kid comes in during a Sunday brunch shift with her family, and you keep the job for five years, and, well, the word spreads.
But last night was my last shift ever. It was a bittersweet night, as the owners were there and pouring things down my throat that made me even more emotional than I would have been otherwise. If you walked past our restaurant at around 11pm last night, you would have heard the Motown music cranked up so loud that the windows were shaking, and me and the owner dancing together in the foyer. She said they were in denial, but I haven't worked very much since last baseball season anyway, so hopefully they're okay.
It'll be nice not to divvy myself up anymore. None of my colleagues really know me without two jobs, and a whole cycle plus of students don't either. It will be nice to be able to pick up on a weekend and get out of town if I want, or to stay late any day after school that I want. And not be on my feet so much (I'm pretty sure I have to have knee surgery this fall, after tearing a ligament playing softball). And have my Sunday nights back. All these things. But I'll sure miss the second job as well - the lifelong friends I've made, the curse of always tipping over 20% wherever I go, almost ways having cash on me. But it was time. Se la vie.
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Ideals are like the stars, Always above our reach. Humbly I tried to learn, More humbly did I teach. On all honest virtues I sought to keep firm hold. I wanted to be a good man Though I pinched my soul. But now I lie beneath cool loam Forgetting every dream; And in this narrow bed of earth No lights gleam. In this narrow bed of earth Star-dust never scatters, And I tremble lest the darkness teach Me that nothing matters.
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