Eula HS Faculty Meeting #4 Mail and Carnival

Eula HS Faculty Meeting #4  Mail and Carnival
by Jim Riggs

Jack Riker and his wife, Darla, spent a week and two weekends climbing scaffolding and painting their two story house.  They scraped and primed bare spots, and painted a finish coat.  Darla painted every day.  Jack joined her after school and on weekends.  The young math teacher and his wife worked long hours trying to finish before the snow fell.  On Sunday afternoon, they painted together till dark, fried grilled cheese sandwiches, and collapsed in bed, side by side, touching only index fingers.

On Monday morning, Jack awoke early, squinted his eyes, stretched tight muscles, and stared at the clock.    5:10 a.m.  Too early to get up. . . . Oh, darn.  Darla and I have to move the scaffolding.  

He looked across the bed to his left.  She’s sound asleep, he thought.  She’ll kill me if I wake her.

Jack dropped his feet over the side of the bed and walked across the carpet to the bath room, lifting the seat on the toilet, garnering relief.  He dropped his pajamas in a pile, stepped into the tub, turning the shower to a spot he knew to be lukewarm.  Too much hot water and Darla won’t have any left, he thought.

He padded naked into their bedroom and kissed his wife awake.

“Go away.”

“Gotta move the scaffolding.”

“Didn’t we move it last night?” she mumbled.

“We were both too tired.  Now we have to hurry.  I have my 7:30 teacher’s meeting.  Mr. Hardass will have a kitten if I’m late again.  He’ll put a letter in my file.  ‘Mr. Riker has no respect for the rules and is extremely unpunctual.  He persists on being late for teacher’s meetings.’  He’d love to have an excuse to fire me.”

“He can’t fire you.  You’re a good teacher.”

“I think so, but too often, I open my mouth in our faculty meetings; point out how foolish he’s being.  Narcissistic people don’t like to be told that they are inadequate.”

“You need to keep your mouth shut during those teacher’s meetings, Jack.  We need this job.”

“You’re right, Darla.  I’ll work on it.  Now we need to move the scaffolding and I have to start my week with a faculty meeting that will, for sure, piss me off.”

Darla put on her old, paint-covered shorts.  She was braless in a painty sweatshirt.  In twenty minutes the scaffolding was secure in a new spot.  Five minutes later, Jack was dressed in slacks, a sport shirt, and a solid pair of oxfords.  Darla poured him a bowl of Cheerios, set out a half-gallon of skim milk, and an envelope of Splenda.  At 7:14 he kissed his pretty wife goodbye, grabbed his briefcase full of advanced algebra tests, and headed down 11th Street toward school.  At 7:28 he walked in the back door of the century-old, thick-walled schoolhouse. The 7:30 bell rang as he slipped in the door of the home economics classroom, just on time for the start of the teacher’s meeting.

“Well, good morning, Mr. Riker,” said Principal Hardball, greeting the math teacher with a frown.  “You’re cutting it plenty close this morning, aren’t you?  Remember, I warned you that the next time you came late to a faculty meeting you’d get a letter of reprimand in your file?”

Riker ignored the man he felt was an ignorant excuse for a principal.  He pulled up an empty desk to the back corner as far from Mr. Hardball as possible.

The boss-man called the meeting to order.  “Alright staff, we have a full agenda this morning.  The first issue is beginning to become a real agitation.  Faculty mail boxes.  Some of you seem to think they are storage compartments for you to cache the accumulation of trash you don’t have room for on your desks.  Postboxes need to be emptied every night, so that when the mail comes in the morning, Miss Buxsom has space to deposit the professional correspondence that you receive.

Also, It appears that some of you are getting personal letters at our school address.  That must stop.  Letters that are delivered here should be official business only; preferably stamped from mass mailings.  Certainly not hand-written.

“And Mr. Riker,”  He stared into the back corner of the room where the math teacher was slumped low in the chair.  “For two days now, you’ve had a package in your mail box.  It looks official and is probably something that requires your immediate attention.  It is filling your box and should be removed before you report to class today.  Understood?”

“Gotcha.  I haven’t picked up my mail for a couple of days.  It’s rare that I receive a piece of mail that doesn’t end up in the recycling bin.  Thanks for letting me know.”

“Every day, Mr. Riker.”  He pointed his index finger toward the back corner of the room.  “You must check your mail every day.  Sometimes professional support people pay extra to get your mail to you on time.  If you don’t even pick it up, it means they have wasted their money.  We must not be responsible for that.  Pick up your mail.  If this doesn’t improve, I may have to put another letter in your file, Mr. Riker.”

Will this man never quit harassing me?  thought Jack Riker.

Miss Angelina Frenchy, the Spanish teacher raised her hand and waved it to attract Mr. Hardball’s attention.  He followed her waving hand down to her cleavage and said, “Yes, Miss Frenchy?”

“I’m confused, Mr. Hardball.”

Principal Hardball said, “What’s new about that, Miss Frenchy?”

She continued without acknowledging the insult.  “I received a letter from Mr. and Mrs. Watt, Donna’s parents.  The address and the return address were both hand written.  Should I write to them or call them and ask them not to send hand-addressed letters to the school or would you like to handle the situation through the office?”

Mrs. Sally Mae Teachall interrupted.  “Why don’t you handle it through the office, sir.  The whole situation is nonsense, so if you handle it through the office none of the parents of our students will think we are unfit to be teachers of their youngsters.  I move that you handle the situation.”

“Second,” said Miss Frenchy.

“All in favor say aye,” said Sally Mae.

“Aye.” came a chorus of voices.

“Opposed say nay.”

Silence.

“It’s carried unanimously, Mr. Hardball.”  said Sally Mae.  “You can give us a report next Monday.  What else do you have on the agenda, sir?”

Mr. Hardball looked as if he had just been run over by a school bus.  He stuttered, “A…a…a.  Two other things.  The first item is similar to the mail problem.  Emails.  It’s come to my attention that some of our staff are using your school email for private purposes.  This is strictly against school district policies, staff.  You may use school email to communicate with students or with parents or with other teachers on official school business.

“Last week one of you sent an email reminding other teachers to vote in the school board election.  It is widely known that the teacher’s union has endorsed one of the candidates for the board.  This is very close to asking other teachers to vote for the endorsed candidate.  Completely unethical and completely against the school rules.  The teacher involved received a letter of reprimand and knows that she needs to be very careful about any further use of school email for personal use.”

“Excuse me, Mr. Hardball.” interrupted Mr. Riker.  “This is ridiculous.  We all know who you’re talking about.  We all got the email from Ms. Darwin.  We all know that she was awarded Iowa Teacher of the Year by the governor.  You mean Ms. Darwin wins Teacher of the Year and gets a letter in her file for asking other teachers to exercise their constitutional right to vote?  It is not only ridiculous, but goes counter to our constitutional rights as citizens.  I think we should call in ISEA lawyers and file a suite against the school district.  I also think we as a faculty should write a letter to the editor explaining how Iowa’s Teacher of the Year got a letter in her file for asking teachers to exercise their constitutional right to vote.”

“Mr. Riker, I resent your insolence.  We all know the rules.  Your arguing against the enforcement is insubordination.  When this meeting is over, I’m instructing Mrs. Jepson, my secretary, to write a letter for your file.”

“And when I receive it, sir, I’ll send a copy to the attorneys at our State Education Association and the school district can expect a lawsuit as a response.  You might want to send your letter to the school attorney before you mail it to me.  Save the district a bunch of money.”

“Enough of your defiance, Mr. Riker.  We’ll talk of this later.”

The room became very quiet.  Mr. Hardball’s face was the color of fresh beets.  He said, “One other thing on the agenda.  The school carnival.  Saturday night is the school carnival.  All of you who are coaches are expected to have a booth and be there.  It’s our one big fundraiser for our athletic teams.  Any of the rest of you staff, come and help out and spend your money.  Bring your children.  They’ll have a good time and the money goes for a good cause.”

“What’s that, Mr. Hardball?” said Mrs. Teachall, looking over her reading glasses, a fiery glare in her green eyes.

“Your support buys new supporters for the boys athletic teams.”

“Hardly fair to girls, sir.” said Mrs. Teachall.

“Not your problem, Mrs. Teachall.  Not your problem at all.”

“It is my problem, sir.  I have girls in my classes who will work at the carnival and not benefit at all from the fruits of their labors.”

Mr. Hardball glanced at the clock.  “We’re out of time now, staff.  We’ll look into the jock problem later.  Now let’s gather in a circle.

The teachers formed a circle, reaching their hands toward the center.

“On three, ‘Go get ‘em.’”

“One, two, three.”

“GO GET ‘EM!” the teachers yelled in unison.

Mr. Riker stopped in the office and picked up the troublesome package.  In his classroom, he pulled the opening strip and removed a shirt he had ordered from Eddie Bauer.

That man doesn’t have enough to do, thought Jack Riker.  Twenty years from now, after we have parted company, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and find the man harassing me in my dreams.  

Jim Riggs

1-31-2016

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