Thursday, June 21, 2012

How to Leave an Impression (Or the Day I Was Accidentally So Many Things I'm Normally Not)

On my last day as a school employee I was emotionally sabotaged. Whose fault? I don't know.

You see, a week after the school year has ended, all of the employees are called together to clean out the building. We rent (or they . . . it's not a "we" anymore, I suppose) space from a church. This year, the school officially purchased their OWN building (huzzah! huzzah! huzzah!), so everyone was supposed to pack up everything and then settle down for a nice luncheon. Where we share . . . memories. And . . . feelings. Oh, feelings . . .

We're strange, creatures, women. Loaded with this lovely little hormone called estrogen. Good laaaaawd, the estrogen. Have you ever noticed that women in mass numbers are breeding ground for tears? Anywhere from the sniffles to full-on-suck-dust-off-the-carpet-out-of-control sobs. We just love to cry in groups. It's like our hormones are having a bloody tea party. "Oh, hi, who you do you come from?"
"Marge, she's over there. Had a rough week."
"You don't say? One lump or two?"
"No sugar. Just chocolate. LOADS of chocolate. And no tea, either. Just the chocolate. Thank heavens. You know, I think, while we're all together, I should share Marge's feelings."
"Oh, that sounds lovely. Let's all join hands and make all our hosts miserable on the count of one, two--"
And suddenly all the women are overwhelmed with empathy, the tears, snot, and an onslaught of unexplainable emotions.

It's nasty business. Especially when you’re someone with the public-display-of-emotions aptitude of a rock. Introversion at its finest, peeps.

So, back to the school clean-up day.

You know something's up with your day when you walk in the door, so PROUD of yourself for being early, and you're greeted with, "Oh THERE you are! Thank goodness! We were just about to call you!"
"Wha--whaaaat? My curriculum turn-in appointment was at eleven. Was I supposed to be here before that?"
"Sarah . . . clean-up started at nine."
"Oh, CRAP!!! But I thought . . . I had been . . . I . . . ah, crap."
"It's no big deal. You've been cleaning your stuff out for over a week. You're fine."
"I thought we had to be here in time to turn in curriculum and the luncheon at noon until two."
"Uh . . . .no, you're supposed to stay until four."
"Oh, no . . . I have plans to pick my sisters right after the luncheon . . . shoot."

So, yeah, I start my day almost two hours late . . . and planned my day around leaving two hours early. Fan-freakin'-tastic.

So, cleaning goes smoothly, except for feeling embarrassed, lost, and a little out of place (I quickly learned I was only good for taping, labeling, and stacking small boxes . . .), and then the luncheon starts. Having only attended the end of the year workday once before, I had forgotten what happens other than we eat food. That is the point of a luncheon, after all, eating. But this was a luncheon created by women for women (sorry four male teachers), and that means we talk about our feelings. The principal gives a lovely speech and lovely speeches are made about the principal and her assistants, and then they open the floor.
Which means OTHER people are supposed to share.

I should have expected this. This is what happens during our last community meeting (a bi-monthly occurrence in which teachers and parents gather for announcements and the like). They open the floor, and women (sometimes paired with husbands), come to the mic and start gushing about the school, the staff, and their fellow parentals. It’s very sweet and it’s not that the school is undeserving, but it makes me squirm. So. Many. Feelings. Top it off, we all hold hands during that last meeting.

Anyways, knowing that’s what our last parent meeting of the year is like, it should have dawned on me that this is what the luncheon would be like (yes, we even held hands again).
It should have registered that, even though share time seemed to be over, I should not move from my seat to go check my phone in the other room.
It should also have occurred to me that I was not hidden in any form or fashion and the principal was scanning the room for more speakers.
But I stood up.
And the principal exclaims energetically, “OH! Sarah’s going to share!”

I suddenly understood what a deer in headlights feels like. “Oh! Oh, no!”
I couldn’t help it. I had to squeak out an objection. It really was an incredibly misunderstanding. Introverts don’t speak publicly or get entangled in emotional business. 

Everyone laughed.

I suppose if I heard someone’s voice suddenly turned into one of the mice from Cinderella, I would laugh, too.

"Um . . . phone . . . husband . . . calling," I manage lamely.
Words were said, I’m not sure what, but I found myself walking up to the mic, saying something about how I can talk if needed.
Lord knows I can gab. And, really, for being an introvert, I LIKE public speaking, hence the job yacking to 78 pubescent teens. I just don't like the emotional, vulnerable kind of public speaking.

Someone called out, “Do you have an announcement for us, Sarah?”

You see, moments before, the principal had commented that my lovely MIL, her right-hand-woman, was considering leaving in a year to be a full-time grandma, and the room was filled with the gasps of women thrilled with the thought of fertility. Oh, and babies. The principal had tried to rectify the situation, but, apparently, it didn’t stick.

I laughed, “Uh no. If there is an announcement, then it’s news to me, too. And, quite frankly, I wouldn’t know where it came from.”

Smooth, Sarah, real smooth. From that statement, one can make two assumptions:
1. Chris and I have no sex whatsoever. Ah-hahahahahaha. No.
 2. I’m a floozy and can’t pinpoint the baby daddy. Again, ha. NO.
Luckily, this doesn’t occur to me until about three days later when I relate the story to my mother, so I am able to ramble on about all sorts of nice things.

 “As many of you know, I graduated from this school, it’s how I met my best friend, Julie, and, later my husband. I didn’t really expect to come back here. Or to Florida. I thought I’d be far away.”

Confused looks meet me. “But you are going far away . . .”

“Yes, which just shows me that God’s plan is unexpected.”
Now you sound like a jerk who doesn’t love them. Sheesh.

“I came back two years ago to teach first grade. I got to work with Sherry, and, if you haven’t talked to Sherry, you should. She’s delightful. Every day I was with these adorable children who just hugged you and said they loved you and all these other funny, funny stories I got to tell my husband. Then this year, I was bumped up to middle school . . . and those kids are insane.”

(Laughter. Thank God).

“They say things and do things and you’re like ‘Seriously? Where did that come from?’”

(Still laughing. Oh, goodness, thank you).

“But they are awesome kids. We had so much fun, and I am going to miss them so, so much next year.”

(“And they’ll miss you!” a teacher/parent called)

“I had always wanted to teach middle school. Um, I went to a middle school run by a woman named Ceil Humphries, some of you may know her, but she made such an impact on my life [oh God, now I’m choking up], that I . . . Oh, gosh! I’m crying! Why is it that when I talk to you people I always cry!” I laugh.

“Just embrace it!” someone calls, so I pull the mic away, start laughing and crying simultaneously.
What can you do but keep laughing and crying, right? How do you even recover from a public snorting??? You don't. You pretend it didn't happen and you move on and hope no one notice.
But you know they did, doggone it.

“So um, *tear, choke,*  I always wanted to do what she did, *tearteartear* and, thank you, so much, for letting me try to be Mrs. Humphries.”
And I hug the principal and dash to my seat where I try to compose myself.

My friend sitting next to me leans over and says, “Ya sure you’re not pregnant? Tears and stuff?”
"No, I'm NOT pregnant," I said, trying not to glare.

And that’s how I ended my last day as a school employee—late, accidental, assumedly secretly fertile, and snorting.

At least they'll never forget me . . .  



  1. Oh Sarah. We are twins. I hate feelings and touching, too. Ew.

    So sweet that you shared your feelings and cried! I snort all the time and snorted in front of my boss and was mortified. Gosh.

    Your speech sounds like it was great. You're amazing lady. Xo

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    2. Larissa--we are totally twins. Feelings should be saved for alone time with closest friends and family . . . Out in public? Oh, it throws me for a loop. Withdraw much? YES. And thanks for the encouragement ;] What a way to spend a last day, right? And you're awesome. :]

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