Thursday, September 27, 2007

It Happened Like This:

7:00 a.m. I arrive at school to discover that yesterday's heat and humidity have not really dissipated in the town where I teach. This dismays me.

7:05 a.m. I am further dismayed to discover that even more of the heat and humidity was left trapped in the building overnight and that it is like a sauna in there. But, I am nothing if not an optimist. This is why fans were invented, right?

8:00 a.m. My first student of the day is not handling the sudden drop in atmospheric pressure well. He prowls around the room with his papers in hand, tracing a path around the tables while I gamely carry on the math lesson. To his credit, he actually manages to finish his work in this manner. Outside, the sky darkens and the occasional rumble of thunder can be heard.

9:00 a.m. My Cheerful Teaching Assistant arrives to take my student to his next class. I proceed to tend to the paperwork that has a tendency to pile up after the previous day has been spent complaining about the heat rather than typing and filing. A breeze has sprung up and I open the windows wide in order that I might feel its cooling freshness. The window directly behind my desk is in the perfect position to catch the great gusts! Ahhhhh....

9:45 a.m. So entranced am I with these breezes that I neglect to take note of the now driving rain. Thankfully, my Cheerful Teaching Assistant arrives in time to take note for me. How I missed the fact that my back was soaked with raindrops is beyond me. I guess I'm just a "focused" sort of worker...and now the custodians don't have to mop the area behind my desk.

10:15 a.m. After a series of rather alarming thunderclaps, the lights flicker a few times then die. The power has gone out, taking with it a few of the little necessities that we educators like to have on hand for teaching: light, telephones, computers, working coffee makers...and running water.

10:16 a.m. Every single student in the building decides that they must use the bathroom. Immediately. It is a dire emergency and the fact that the toilets cannot be flushed is not really a problem as far as they are concerned.

11:10 a.m. After finishing classes with the 6th grade, my Cheerful Teaching Assistant returns to the room and gleefully announces that, if we can just get through the lunch periods, then we can go home. Ever hopeful, I ask where she came by this information. When she responds by saying that this is just common sense, I am forced to burst her bubble with the following Public Service Announcement:

While it certainly makes sense to close a school with no running water or electricity, it is not going to happen. An Early Release Day can only work if all schools in the district close together. Given that it is doubtful the power outages are spread across the three towns that make up this district, we will be here for the duration. The problem is around transportation. The state requires that we keep the children for X number of hours before we can call it a full day and not have to bring them back for a make-up day. If we dismiss one school early, the buses will not be able to get them all home in time to return to the other schools for regular dismissal. This problem is further compounded by the fact that we have two schools in one building and two different dismissal times. Even if we could get the 6th graders home, there is no way on earth that the 5th grade bus runs could be made without the primary schools having their buses delayed by at least an hour. This does not make the average kindergartner happy. They like to go home before dark. Having been through this sort of situation before in this district, I predict that there will be porta-potties on site within the hour.

11:30 a.m. My Formerly Cheerful Teaching Assistant gives me a pitying look that indicates I am nothing short of crazy. It is dark, hot, humid and we are surrounded by unflushed toilets. The government will not stand for this!

12:04 p.m. The porta-potties arrive and are conveniently installed below my classroom windows. I opt to not gloat as this isn't really a "winning situation" for anyone.

1:00 p.m. I teach Social Studies in what might be considered "primitive conditions." People are peeing outside my window and I am bartering bottles of water for finished work. Society has broken down.

1:45 p.m. Perhaps predictably, the classroom discussion begins to center on how we would fare if this wasn't just a power outage, but a zombie invasion. We determine that we are actually pretty well set up...2nd floor classroom, fridge, radio and assorted snacks. We're looking pretty good. We begin to craft a working government of sorts that could be implemented in a pinch and start thinking of who we are going to invite into our little kingdom. The 6th grader working in the room at this time is an enthusiastic participant and promises to help us find minions.

1:47 p.m. It is discovered that the little classroom fridge has defrosted all over the Secret Teacher Stash Of Peanut Butter Cups. A frantic rescue mission is launched and I am pleased to report that all cups are safe and accounted for. We test them just to be sure.

(I normally don't give the children chocolate until Friday. It's sort of a rule. But when my poor little sixth grader looked at me imploringly all I could say was, "Oh, had to go outside and pee in a plastic box today. You may have two!")

2:00 p.m. The decision was made to dismiss twenty minutes early as we'd had all we could take. Rumor has it that the Middle School (also without power) is ready to turn the students loose into the wild and just be done with it.

2:30 p.m. I patiently explain to a parent why we couldn't call her to tell her that we were dismissing twenty minutes early (no phones) and why we couldn't prop the doors open to help with the heat (school security policy). This analogy seemed to help:

It was sort of like "Survivor" except that, no matter how hard I tried, they wouldn't vote me off the island.

2:36 p.m. The parent leaves chuckling and with, perhaps, a greater appreciation for the lengths we will go to educate her children.

2:45 p.m. With no power and my only 5th grade student having departed early, I am left with plenty to do and no way to do it. Computer=dead. Phone=dead. Plus I am hot and the school smells kind of...well, you can imagine. I pack up my stuff and discuss plans with my Not So Cheerful Teaching Assistant for tomorrow's classes.

3:00 p.m. As I exit the building, the power comes back on. I just keep walking. I know when I'm beat.

So, to recap: I spent my day trapped in a building with no power, no working phones, no running water, and with porta potties in clear view. I did this on a Thursday in high heat and humidity. Trapped with me were 200 children, all of whom blamed the adults in the building for their raging thirst.

And this, Dear Readers, is how a Sheep doesn't have to think about her dreaded dentist appointment tomorrow morning. Isn't fate just a hoot?



Geraldine said...

There's only one solution for a trying day Sheep, SOUP and lots of it!!! LOL.... Mothers of the world can't be wrong, right????

Glad to hear you are feeling a bit better.


Mouse said...

Poor sheepie.. I'm glad the zombies didn't get you this time. My solution to my crap week has been lemon & cherry flavoured Italian ice. It seems to be making things better.

Anonymous said...

Poor, poor Sheepie; what an awful day! Bad enough to be trapped in such heat without electricity, phones, water, or flushable toilets, but to be trapped there with 200 children; that's just too awful to think about!

Lazuli said...

What a horrible day! I hope tomorrow's better (I suppose, if the dentist lost power, water, etc, the reschedule of an appointment might be better - or it might be worse due to the anticipation factor!) Good luck!

trek said...

They're what's for dinner.

Beth said...

Oh my, what an awful day! Tomorrow has got to be better.

Faren said...

Oh, what an awful day!
I too worry about the coming zombie invasion, I'm glad you were prepared!

Mel said...

Hmmm, it actually wasn't bad at all way down here in K.P. - nice sea breeze and everything, though still a bit more humid than I'd have liked. And we're only just now at quarter past eleven getting some rainfall.

I saw a trailer for a movie tonight that made me think of you. Not zombies, but the actual dead trying to take over the world. It's called Pulse and it only got 4.2 out of 10 stars on IMDB, so it must be good.

mehitabel said...

Misery: heat + humidity + no power. I certainly hope the Powers That Be in your district come up with the moolah for emergency generators soon! But then, having spent more years than I care to think about working with and in public schools, I'm laughing already.
Out here, we get earthquakes. Then the ceiling falls in. If the band leader is a total dork, he stands in the doorway to protect himself and lets the kids get the plaster in their hair...instead of letting them out to the field where at least there is nothing to gall on them!

April said...

Poor Sheepie, you are a true hero to go through all of that to educate the masses.

But what we *really* want to know is ...

When Is School Picture Day?

Anonymous said...

You need a clause in your contract that the porta-potties are placed out of the view of your classroom. It's only fair.
Good luck at the dentist.

Anonymous said...

You always make me laugh - and the sad thing is that I can visualize exactly what you are going through - has your school heard of a "generator"?


--Deb said...

How can you make such an awful day sound (to those of us who weren't there) actually funny? Because you did, and having read the description I can imagine just how awful that day really was, too . . .

Cathy said...

Here is is the day after the dentist and no word. Is the dentist a zombie? With a portapotty?

kmkat said...

If Stephen King were to take humor writing, he could take lessons (and suggestions for topics) from you. This was hilarious. Although probably not so much to you during the actual event. Unless you were thinking, Hey! Blog fodder!

Dudleyspinner's Tie Dye Rovings said...

You have done it again, made the worst possible day a spew alert blog entry. Kudos

Leigh said...

Oh my. What a day. Maybe the dentist's office doesn't look so bad after all. :)