8:10 a.m.: Sign in to welcome-back meeting 10 minutes late. Take a doughnut. Don’t bother looking for a jelly-filled or chocolate one –all that’s left is half a cruller. Goddamn it. Find your friends at the back table and think for the thousandth time how much teaching high school is like being in high school, clique-wise. Sit between your Music Dept. friend and the AP Language guru, who’s wearing his best ironic T-shirt with tiny letters; something about Idaho and soccer. Fist-bump him. Say, “Dude, how many kids you got this year?” When he says “A hundred and seventy-eight,” nod like that’s what you expected. Do not smile. You only have a hundred and sixty-two. Score.
8:14 a.m.: Big news: No one is allowed to have microwaves and refrigerators in their rooms anymore because electricity bills. Think about salads and get indignant: If they think you’re bringing soggy PB&Js to work every day, they have another think coming. Start sketching preliminary drawings vis a vis how to hide a fridge in your supply closet. Maybe if you took a screwdriver and removed two of the shelves?
8:58 a.m.: Resist the urge to check your phone. Last year, some guy from the Science department texted during the welcome-back meeting and some bad shit went down. Hide your phone in a side pocket of your bag and kick the bag real far under the table.
8:59 a.m.: Your Idaho-shirt friend thinks you nudged him in response to something that was just said. What? you mouth. School trips, he mouths back.
9:01 a.m.: Someone from the History Dept. (you can never remember her name but she’s conservative and long-winded so you call her William F. Buckley, Jr.) is APPALLED about the cancelled-school-trip situation. “This is unacceptable!” she’s saying, and you zone out, thinking of a hundred and sixty-two names to learn. Somewhere in the mid-90s, everyone started calling their sons Jaden/Kaden/Aiden; such a pain in the ass. Yada yada learning opportunities; yada yada curriculum, blah blah Spain blah France. You have been to France. You want to tell her Italy is better. Gelato! The David! Venetians peeing grand arcs into the canals!
9:02 a.m.: Your Music friend passes you a note re: the complaining History teacher. NEMESIS!! it says. I HATE HER. Nod sympathetically.
9:15 a.m.: Restroom break. Check your phone. You have a text from Idaho Shirt. Educator Bingo, it says. I made squares. Get M&Ms from vending machine plz k thx.
9:35-10:28 a.m.: Play Educator bingo with buddy, who has laid out two copies of 25 hastily-drawn squares with edu-speak buzzwords. “Loser buys drinks,” he whispers. You are both listening intently now. Rigor, you hear. State standards. Best practices. Evaluation. Value-added Measurement. Achievement gap. The hot Theatre teacher stretches languorously. Your buddy gets distracted, misses Assessment, and you move in for the kill. “Dos Equis on Saturday,” you whisper. He points at you, traces a heart in the air, and presses his hands to his chest. “You complete me,” he whispers back.
10:38 a.m.: Make three (gramatically-correct, as befits an English teacher) lists on back of syllabus: (1) With Whom In This Room I Would Sleep; (2) With Whom I Would Never, Ever Sleep; and (3) With Whom I Have Already Slept. Wish that the third list was shorter.
11:15 a.m.: Meeting adjourned! Go to your classroom. Be thrilled that the pile of cockroaches is gone — the last one you killed in late May was so big, it made direct eye contact with you. You felt like a murderer. Start cleaning out supply closet. Try to find last year’s examples of great college application essays, the ones that begin with “When I left my small village in China to find a better life…” or “Having a prosthetic leg has taught me all about awkward conversations…” Make a file.
11:57 a.m.: Notice that someone has absconded with your stapler. Dicks! You will never trust again.
12:01 p.m.: Meet the new Math teacher on your floor, the one with career terror in her eyes and an apple applique on her blouse. She has transferred from the middle school and refers to her husband as “the hubs.” Give her all your extra rulers. You have, like, 800 rulers. You do not know why that is.
12:42 p.m.: Lunch with friends. Compare new tattoos and syllabi. Using subtle emotional manipulation, lobby to teach Macbeth. Lose. You get Hamlet. You are justly kill’d by your own treachery.
1:48 a.m. Check your e-mail. Learn that your state is changing its evaluation criteria. File this away under Things You Can Do Nothing About. Soon, you know, they will replace teachers with robots. Wonder what else you can do with a Master’s of Education. Wonder about homesteading in Oregon. Wonder about raising alpaca goats. Weigh how bad things would have to get for you to join the Peace Corps. Resolve to never do any porn, no matter how fierce the demand for 38-year-old women with big traps who can do a back handspring.
2:30 p.m.: Attend club-advisor finance meeting and tell horror stories like you’re sitting around a campfire: “You guys, I heard there was this teacher one time who sponsored anime club, and he forgot to fill out juuuust onnnne form when he took the kids to see ‘Totoro,’ and then, oh God, the district stuck him with three hundred dollars in matinee tickets.” Gasp. Say, “That’s pretty bad, but also? This other guy? He borrowed a set of supplementary textbooks for Science Explorer Club, and when the kids didn’t return them? He got stung for three THOUSAND dollars.” Shudder. Resolve to be totally strict about the forms this year. Barter with the Art teacher — if your GSA club can have a bunch of pink and purple glitter, his manga club (???) can use your poster boards for whatever the hell they need poster boards for. Pinky-swear. Wonder for the thousandth time if he is gay or just exceedingly well-dressed, for a teacher anyway.
2:52 p.m.: Wonder if you’ll get in trouble for leaving (“ghosting” as the kids say) before exactly 3:05. Decide to risk it.
2:53 p.m.: Decide you better not. Start designing a unit plan: Dystopias And How To Prevent Them.
3:45 p.m.: Wonder why you’re still in the building. This unit plan is going to ROCK, though.
4:48 p.m.: Decide you are definitely leaving now! and you are Not Kidding!
4:58 p.m.: Wonder: How come there are no cats in “Animal Farm?” Also, is the asexual reproduction scene in “Brave New World” too much for sophomores? Flip through the books again.
5:02 p.m.: Remember that this is when they lock the parking-lot gates from the outside. Race to your car. Drive home imagining what you would do if you were locked in the school overnight. Decide that you would go to the Science lab and lie down before the soothing black lights of the reptile terrariums. You would fall asleep listening to the snakes and frogs cold-bloodedly rustle and settle; to their thin black tongues reaching out and tasting air; to the quiet clicking of pebbles.