I knew it would be a problem, what with me declining the invitation to rearrange my classroom to suit the wishes of Cus. Is it my fault I have used the same configuration for at least four years, without previous complaint? I think not. It's not a fault, but a conscious decision to make optimum use of space while still providing two paths of ingress and egress each class period. For fast escapes during fires and tornadoes and earthquakes. For stealthy forays by Mrs. HM herself to use her bloodhound nose and rabbit ears to sniff out cell phones during class time.
When Cus tracked me down to inquire about the answer to the note left on my desk overnight, no doubt on paper withdrawn from my in-house First Bank of Cut-Rate Copier, written upon with
With a flap of arms to rival Farmer H's histrionics, and a turn on the heel, Cus exited the teacher workroom muttering, "I knew you'd hate me for asking." Well. That's not exactly the reason. Oh. Wait. I don't hate Cus. I just don't see the need for Cus to get all up in my furniture business. And in my personal microwave. I'm actually almost fond of Cus. Gifted Cus with my World Famous Chex mix at Christmas. Gave a sizable donation to the Cus fund over the holidays when Cus was laid up for a bit. I don't begrudge Cus easier working conditions. I simply feel that my designs for my classroom take precedence over Cus's. I'm an old dog. That's how it has been all the other 25 years of my teaching experience in various districts. I was allowed to arrange my furniture as I saw fit.
So...I was out for a doctor's appointment Monday. I came back to pick up The Pony, and sat down to grade the assignments and enter them into the system. No use having a day off if you're coming back to twice the work. Let the record show that I gave assignments that were easy to grade. Still, with six classes, 100 students...that's at least a 100-minute task.
What d'ya know? Cus showed up. Because even though I've asked many a time, upon leaving an hour and a half after school, if Cus would like me to just leave the door open for cleaning, Cus has said, on those occasions, "No. Go ahead and lock it. I don't know when I'll be able to get to it." Cus has until 10:00, you see. That's p.m. So there's still at least five hours left to get to it.
Not Monday. In came Cus. A greeting was tossed out. And one returned. I had no time for small talk. I had 100 papers to grade. Cus dumped the trash. Sprayed the whiteboard in the middle, the place I never write, because the projector screen covers it during the day. I tend to leave writing on both sides, and just erase and add anew each morning. Perhaps to needle Cus. Perhaps not.
THEN Cus got the short mop. For sweeping in between the rows. My rows are not forward and back. They're side to side. Seven desks per row for the first two, then six, then five. That's how we get a ring around the perimeter for walking. So Cus starts up the row with the short broom. The one my old custodian buddy had no problem steering down a straight line, where chair feet are lined up on tile corners with military precision.
Cus swept past two desks and RAMMED A CHAIR LEG! Realigned the dust mop, made it past three more, and RAMMED A CHAIR LEG. The mop made little metallic rattly noises of protest. Same thing happened in the next row. It was quite distracting to one absorbed in grading 100 papers in 100 minutes. I have a feeling this performance was for my benefit. To elicit understanding of how hard it is to sweep my rows unless they are spread four more inches apart. I admit, some feeling was elicited.
I felt like shouting, "Sweet Gummi Mary! Poor old aged arthritic PastCus could make it up and down those rows without breaking stride, while sometimes swooping that sweeper in under a chair for an errant scrap. You must not be very good at this job if, after almost two years of sweeping with that very mop, you ram into the legs like that!"
But I didn't say a word. And when Cus came back a half hour later to ask when I would be leaving, I was so discombobulated by the question that I stammered, "Um...fifteen...fifteen minutes?" Rather than, on hindsight, responding, "Around 9:55."
Forget saber-rattling. I think that mop-ramming performance was a sign. This means war.