After two evenings of Parent Conferences this week, I am feeling a bit sore. Because a genius in the maintenance department went around last year installing light switches that turn themselves off after 10 minutes of no motion, I must move constantly about my classroom. Like shark must keep swimming or die. Except it's not so easy to actually kill Mrs. Hillbilly Mom. Though she can be made mighty uncomfortable by newfangled technology.
My desk, you see, had to be moved this year. I now sit in the back corner of the room, enclosed in an open fortress. That's where all the wires that bring life to my laptop, wifi, projector, printer, dvd, vcr, sound box thingy, and telephone drop down from the ceiling. Not in a tasteful, conduit kind of way. I mean they drop down through a hole in the ceiling tile, like vines in the rain forest, and dangle over the table which holds my electronic accoutrements. On the table, they entwine themselves into knots and filigree, coiled and ready to strike. It's a big freakin' eyesore. But that's not what I'm here to complain about tonight.
My classroom light goes off while I work at my desk. It is a distraction, and a hindrance, in the evening hours, when the sun begins to set. Just when I'm whizzing along in the grading of papers, or entering columns of scores from my old red gradebook, the light goes off. I've tried waving my arms. I've tried standing up. My classroom lights do not respond. They, like the rest of the world, ignore me. I must transform myself into a squeakier wheel. If I take two threatening steps away from my desk, toward the front of the room, the lights come on. Sounds simple, you say? "Mrs. Hillbilly Mom, why don't you just stand up and feint toward the light every ten minutes? That would solve your problem." Yes. But it would create another problem with my creaky arthritic old-lady knees. All that hopping up and down like a rousing cake-walk game of musical chairs would cripple Mrs. Hillbilly Mom.
In the two evenings of conferences, I discovered a new solution. Short of tracking down that dim light dim bulb and beating the pulp out of him, I devised a system to turn on the light AND keep me out of the crossbars Hilton.
If I lean way over in my rolly chair, and hold a sheaf of paper dug out of the printer in my right hand, and wave it in a wide, circular motion--the light comes on. Yep. All it takes is a bit of contortion from Mrs. HM. I feel like Martin Short and Harry Shearer doing their synchronized swimming routine on the old SNL during the years when it was painfully unfunny. I'm like a spritely Asian tween cavorting to please the international judging panel in the gold medal round of rhythmic gymnastics, tumbling and twirling a ribbon on a stick. If this teaching career thing doesn't pan out, I might make it as a signal flag dude on a top gun aircraft carrier.
Why does teaching have to be so hard?