Friday, September 4, 2015

The Heartache of Labor Day

 For the past 25 years I've spent my Labor Day in a U.S. Open trance. I watch it from the moment it starts until it's over. It's the end of my summer vacation and as such is a mix of melancholy, anxiety and dread. The mix of those ingredients has changed considerably over the years. During the beginning of my teaching career the anxiety was much stronger. When I was in a terrible school, the dread was palpable. I remember watching Jimmy Connors play Patrick McEnroe late into the night, hoping the match would never end. If it could go on forever, so would my summer vacation. It was Connors 39th birthday and I remember screaming for him. If he could win, we could all hang onto our youth for a little while longer. As an ATR I no longer feel the pangs of anxiety or dread. Indeed, I no longer feel like a teacher. Now as my children are growing up, the melancholy is stronger. A cocktail that is very bittersweet. I sacrificed a lot during those years for my family and my students. I've had some success on both fronts. Labor Day is a day of rest and recognition for all workers. Enjoy your labor, for there can be great fulfillment from a job well done.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

ATR Greetings

(Leadership Academy Principal) Harvey: Toby, did you see that homeless person in front of the school? What's happening to this city? It never would have happened under Bloomberg!
( 2nd year teacher) Toby: Who's Bloomberg?

Harvey: You're kidding, right?

Toby: No. I'm from Wyoming.

Harvey: (rolls his eyes) The last mayor. The guy who's responsible for all the great things in NYC, including me! (pauses) Oh, no! How did that creature get past security?!

(A lady walks towards Harvey and Toby. Harvey breaks into a run to meet her.)

Harvey: Miss, I'm sorry you have the wrong building. The shelter is two blocks down.

Unknown Lady: I'm an ATR. My name is Beryl Stess.

Harvey: I see. (pauses) Let's get you situated. Toby get George. Miss Stess, how long will you be with us?

Ms. Stess: About 6 weeks.

(George walks up to them.)

Harvey: Oh, hello, George. This is Miss Stess. Miss Stess, this is our head custodian. You'll be working under him for the next 6 weeks. Just do whatever he tells you.

Ms. Stess: I want to speak to the chapter leader. This is unacceptable.

Harvey: He standing right next to you. Say hello Toby.

Toby: Hello.

Ms. Stess: I'm not doing custodial work.

Toby: You have to do whatever is asked of you or you'll be brought up on insubordination charges.

George: No, she doesn't. I'll go to MY union and stop it.

Harvey: No need for that George. Miss Stess, I'll put you in the stairwell for the six weeks you're here. Just make sure the kids get to class. (Gives her a cold stare) Don't make me have to call your ATR supervisor and report you for difficult behavior.

Ms. Stess: Fine.