I knew when I looked at the caller ID. Before I even hit the decline button. I didn’t want to hear those ugly words come out of anyone’s mouth.
Of course there was a message …We got the report back today… You need to call. I hit the delete message.
Voicemail/caller ID/merge calls…all this technology designed to enhance phone communication sometimes works at cross purposes with Humans.
I think about how to dismantle this feature.
I pour some wine. Cut a pain pill in half. My jaw is still aching from the abscessed tooth. And promptly fall into a dreamless sleep.
The next day I call. No answer. I leave a message on the voicemail that no one ever listens too.
I continue with my day. Busying myself with all kinds of move related tasks. Dropping off clothes at a Baptist church clothes bank… someone will be happy with these cute dresses with tags still on them, shoes worn once still in the box, purses just like they came from the store paper wadded inside.
I think they call it a shopping addiction. I call it retail therapy. It seems to fill some void I have had this summer. But my new life cannot handle all this excess so I happily give it to the church.
Next stop Salvation army. Men just waking file out the door. One directs me to the office. The smell of urine and maleness is strong in the dimly lit hallway. The worker who welcomes me is genuinely happy to see me. I load her arms with comforters, pillows and almost new sheets. She thanks me warmly. I leave.
On to the hip upscale trendy part of town. Ironically, only a few blocks away from the seedy army of salvation. The owner of the upscale consignment shop greets me cheerfully. We have talked and she is anxious to see my wares…The mid century Swedish folding rope chairs I bought 20 years ago. They are worth $800 each. I have 4. They are in excellent condition. How much do I want for them. She is excited to have such a find in her little shop. She can see the dollar signs. Where do I sign. I just want to sell them and move on. They are a reminder of a time when monetarily my life was good but otherwise bad.
The phone rings. The caller ID flashes their name. It is their legal name. Not the familiar one. Too emotion engendering. I take a long deep breath.
I watch the squealing ancient coal cars scream past my car. I wonder what it would be like to disappear among those fast moving cars now. To be taken away from the insistent ring of this cell phone. Whisked away in a snarling, screeching mess of iron and steel. Destination unknown.
The TV ads have already begun. Happy, smiling children dancing, doing flips to Bruno Mars, tumbling out of school buses, Ready. Faces shining, eyes glowing, backpacks bulging, sharpened pencils/notebooks/calculators/jump drives/Ipads at the ready.
As a teacher, now retired, I have mixed emotions about this time of the year. Summer is not officially over and already the brick and mortar folks are on the band wagon gearing up for the shopping binge that takes place this time of year. True, many schools around the country have begun, but Virginia (Hampton Roads) opted years ago to delay opening until after Labor Day to give the student workers a chance to serve the last tourists visiting the area.
I loved teaching, my students and being in the classroom, but I also savored every day of my two month respite (as did most of my colleagues). The mental and physical stress of teaching coupled with low pay requiring most of us teachers to work a second job takes its toll on those in this noble profession.
Generally teachers have to return one or two weeks before school’s official opening to prepare for the onslaught of new practices, new personnel, new procedures. …this year you will have to write out an individual comment on the student’s report card if the student receives a D in your class…Huh?…You mean explain to the student/parent why he/she got a D…Duh?
In teaching, it seems everything old is always new again. That’s the thing about education, a forty year veteran teacher used to say… Gurl, if you stay in it long enough everything comes back around…just with a new name and some new research to back it up. I call this the pendulum swing theory…things were going pretty good (or bad ) and now they seem headed in the other direction.
My entre into teaching was a second career move. Having exhausted the paralegal field working with lawyers of all ilk… from Hollywood medical malpractice to Virginia Legal Aid, I was ready for a career switch. My options were law school (and suit up every day in the lawyer armor) or English degree. The choice was obvious.
During the mid 80s, teachers still had a measure of control over what happened in their classroom. I remember being given a course outline my first year and told that as long as I covered the material, I could be as creative as I wanted in the delivery to the students.
A year later, when I became Department Head, my principal, Mr. W told me during the interview, I had big shoes to fill as my predecessor had been on the job for 30 years. He looked at my size 9 foot and smiling said, I don’t think you will have any problem. And I didn’t.
Under his Joe Clark tempered with Old School cool leadership and the mentoring of other seasoned teachers, I flourished. The 10 years I spent at the middle school were certainly the high point of my teaching career. Not only was I able to influence the philosophy and practices of other teachers, I was able to teach I-love -you -one -day/hate -you -the- next hormonal 12 and 13 year olds, critical thinking and reasoning skills while improving their basic reading/writing skills. And also infuse their lives with some history and culture to strengthen their self knowledge. I was even voted Teacher of the Year * by my fellow colleagues. And appeared in a local television news documentary celebrating the teaching profession.
It was there that I wrote my first book buoyed by my students who wanted “to see a text about Egyptian mythology with faces that looked like theirs.”
All of that unfortunately, ended one day when a student, new to the school and upset because I had given the entire class lunch detention for misbehaving while under the care of a sub, jumped up suddenly and shouted I’m not serving any f###king detention… I’ma blow your mother F###king head off. And ran out of the room.
This incident of verbal assault signaled a pendulum shift in my own life. For weeks, I was stalked by this student even after he was finally suspended. At the insistence of the police officer assigned to the school, I took unpaid leave for the remaining few weeks of school. During this time, I found it necessary to seek medical treatment for stress, anxiety and debilitating insomnia as my bubbly personality and infectious smile disappeared.
Eventually, the case was bought to court (the school assigned police officer had filed a warrant against the student). Ironically, the state of Virginia, had just passed a law stating that verbal assault on a teacher was a crime. The judge sentenced the student to a juvenile facility and apologized to me on behalf of the Court for all that I had endured.
Unfortunately, the damage was done. Being inside a school no longer held joy for me …only anxiety. And for some strange reason, even though I was the victim of this crime, the school administration did not take my side. I think they just wanted me to let the whole thing go…after all the student hadn’t physically assaulted me.
But he had run to his locker to get something after he bolted from my class…perhaps a weapon.
..he had come to the school near the end of the year without records from his previous school and been admitted.
..he had assaulted a student in another neighboring school district.
…he had waited many days following this incident crouched by my parked car until he was chased away by security.
…He had taken away my career,my livelihood, my joie de vie…my love of teaching.
(To be continued…part 2)
Comments welcome. And thank you for Reading my Words.
Reader, As the saying goes, I’ve saved the Best for last. My visit to Underground Montreal took place on my last full day in the Beautiful city.
I had read the promo pamphlets during my first days in the Beautiful city, but avoided going into any of the numerous doors throughout downtown Montreal marked Underground.
I wanted to devote an entire day to this experience. Having visited the likes of U.S underground cities in ATL, Albany, NY and Crystal City, VA the prospect of seeing the world’s largest known subterranean complex was something I wanted to savor.
Montreal’s Underground was built to accommodate residents and visitors during the harsh winter months with its significant snowfalls and cold temperatures.
Multiple shopping strips and office blocks are connected by walkways and rail. Numerous entry points can be found at ground level and via Metro stations.
The temperature on my last full day in Beautiful city was nearing the Hades point. For some reason, mother nature (or the global warming gods) had decided to backdrop the second week of the Jazz festival with a once in 60 years heat wave.
By noon, the temperature was an earth scorching 95 degrees. I put on my coolest travel garments and headed for the Underground.
When I descended the curved staircase near the Marriott on Rue Peele, I literally heard birds singing and harps playing. Actually, it was the thrilling sounds of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from a pair of Street musicians that greeted me as I descended the clean, shiny, polished stairs.
I was speechless. In front of me stretched miles of shops, businesses, Eateries, did I say Eateries, all within a well lit, air conditioned, cheery, clean, dang near sparkling version of Oz.
Words failed to capture the feeling I had as I glided down the corridors of Undergound Montreal.
So Reader, I will put away my Thesaurus and let your eyes feast on a few of the wonderful sights of Underground Montreal…Voila…
Are you booking your airfare? Amtrak? Greyhound? yet…See you there in September!
Love and Light. Comments always welcomed and don’t forget to Share!
Reader, or soon to be Traveler to Montreal, of all the things I loved about our Neighbor to the North, the people literally ran away with my Heart. Warm, Smiling, Vivacious, Joyous, Happy, Delighted, Merry…they were all that anda bag of chips…(slang for Fantastic).
Standing on a street corner…la rue.. looking at the signs..le metro, la bouche de metro, l’arret de bus… trying to decide if I’m going left/right/ Sideways…oh no, that’s a movie…Pardon, Miss do you need directions?
Checking into the Residence Inn, tired, sweaty, in need of food/shower/a bed… after an unexpected 12 hour bumpy what-happened-to-the-Express Amtrak train ride...
Oh Miss Linda do not worry, Everything is ready for you…your requested lower floor room, one key or two, do you have bags, Ah you are traveling light. Would you like a bottle of cool water. And Welcome to.. .L’hotel de Marriott!
H&M, Simon, Aveeda, Ecco, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Everything for 9.99 and More…High end and low retail grace the streets of Downtown Montreal…like a virtual shopper’s Paradise. Let the Retail Therapy Begin!
Saleswomen/ men greet you first with a smile and cheerful Bonjour. And if they see the dreaded stranger-in-strange land look, the greeting instantly turns into Hello! How can I help you? Language crisis averted.
Pretty, thin, polymer yellowish green CAD$ in Hand... Wait, You mean if I give you $100 US dollars, you will give me $125 Canadian dollars back.Where do I sign? And don’t worry plastic users Visa/ Mastercard/AMEX wherever you see the Plus sign are accepted in Canada too.
Breakfast? Lunch? Dinner?… petite dejeuner, No problem….Interwoven into Downtown Montreal are numerous restaurants many with beautiful flower decked outdoor cafes, offering a veritable smorsgabord of food from around the world and their own hometown specialties…
All Foodies know, the best food is where the locals go. In search of lunch on my second day, I heard the roar of the crowd literally coming from a small nondescript building. When I peered inside I saw the quaint tiny restaurant was packed to the gills with Citizens/Visitors all gazing at the overhead screen cheering on their favorite World Cup team.
Bingo! I was seated at a small table next to a larger one that seemed to be occupied by an entire family. Their bowls of soupe and chicken salade sat untouched as they gazed reverently, intently at the players on the screen.
One night after a heady jazz filled, dancing-at-the front-of the-stage kinda night, I took the 5 minute Metro ride back to my hotel. It was close to midnight, and the cool night air beckoned me to linger outside and enjoy more of Montreal. I passed by an outdoor café near the hotel.
The menu was intriguing but I was in search of a glass of wine to top off my evening. When I sat at one of the very French curbside tables, a neatly dressed server immediately appeared and greeted me with a tall glass of perfectly chilled clear water. When I asked about the wine list, she said there was none but what wine did I want. Rose, I replied. Glass or bottle? she smiled. I smiled back…. A glass or two. She returned with a goblet filled with a generous pour of the most heavenly rose.
By day 3, I was convinced Le Gouvernement had issued an edict to all Montreal Citizens to be extra friendly, kind, helpful, courteous, cordial to any guest who was visiting their beautiful province. But NO such edict had been issued. It is just their natural, humanity conscious way… our neighbors to the North. People matter. All People.
Immigrants: Haitians, Africans, Asians, Latinos, Middle Easterners, and more… all co exist peacefully and happily. Eyad, a smiling taxi driver from Pakistan who took me on my final ride through the streets of Montreal said he and his family absolutely loved living there. And, of course, they missed their original home, but Montreal is were they want to be.
The LGBT community proudly displays its rainbow flag at the entrance to their community. Confused by this at first (me and a handful of liberal passengers looked questioningly…What?Are They on display.. When the double decker tour bus driver quickly announced Le Village Gai was a renowned place. And that Montreal is one of the few cities in the world to thoroughly embrace their LGBT communities. Smiles. Sighs. Nodding heads…Click click of cameras followed. Rebellion Against the MAn averted.
I will leave you with a few more pictures of the People of Montreal. Please enjoy them as I have. And don’t forget the most picturesque Fall leaves can be seen on the roads leading to Montreal. Who knows I may see you there…September borne.
Love and Light. Merci Beaucoup. And as Always, Please feel free to Comment/Share and Follow… My Blog
Over the years, I have read about our Canadian neighbor’s concern about global warming..It is a thang…Mr. Twitter... overuse of natural resources, free health care, food markets not food deserts, people first…Vive la difference!
The pictures that follow depict a society where All Lives truly Do Matter. It is evident in the laser focused Street Cleaners who keep Downtown Montreal spotless, the recycling receptacles on every corner (including one for your old electronic devices), the familiar BELL telephone sign above the strategically placed Clean telephone booths…No, Virginia everyone does not have a iPhone… The 10 cents charge for a bag in a store, the no straws policy, the no smoking in front of a building , the Clean, Clean air and Happy, Friendly People (more on them in the Next Post).
The Free cell phone charger machines are a godsend for those who have cell phones…. like my trusty iPhone that suffered a relapse and needed a constant battery charge upon crossing the Border, and even had the audacity to die en route to the Dr. Lonnie Liston Smith set ( I had drank the kool aid and not printed out my $50 ticket, trusting my phone would do what it was supposed to do). This resulted in a good old fashioned American begging session with a young clerk in a nearby Bookstore who graciously offered his personal charger to solve my problem…Mais oui, Madame..(spell check keeps changing my French words!)
These free chargers (various space age designs) can be found at many public places, colleges, and of course the Jazz Festival tent- manned by a smiling, vivacious newly arrived Brussels native and her equally charming co-worker from Eritrea who upon finding that the “charger”machine was full, offered her Own personal charger (another Personne sympathique) to give my iPhone a boost. Thus ensuring that I could communicate with Someone, Anyone that night while at the Venue.
I could go on and on…but I will let the photos do the talking. Bon Soir!
PS…have you booked your ticket yet? I understand the foliage in the Fall is breathtakingly awesome!
As Always, thanks for Reading! Comments/Shares/Follows Welcomed.