melodee, can you cover room 13?

so, as some of you already know, i've quit my first "real" job. i was an english teacher at mather youth academy for one whole week. and for that whole week, last week, i was a completely different, unhappy person. i couldn't register anything my girlfriend was saying. i couldn't understand what was happening in the movie becoming jane. every morning, i woke up with a queasy stomach, and everyday was like high school all over again, where i was just expecting something awful to happen.

the staff was cool, i won't lie about that. mr. rosas is a very upstanding, moral, and supportive human being. the teachers were very supportive, too, and they're able to do something i was and probably never will be able to do. they can keep their cool. they can emotionally detach themselves from work, and they're able to shake off all the negative, hateful energy they accumulate throughout the day.

needless to say, the kids won. they got under my skin. i approached mr. rosas on friday afternoon during my prep/lunch period to tell him something was on my mind. i didn't intend to quit. we just talked. some of the things i remembered him saying were, "life's too short to be doing something you don't want to do," and "just because i took a chance on you doesn't mean that you should feel guilty if this doesn't work out," and "god will never give you a cross that you can't bear." he tried to make light of the situation, completely aware that i was having a mini nervous breakdown. i was a little recharged. i didn't have my 8th graders that day, so i was feeling alright.

then my 10th-12th class came around, and it really wasn't so bad. mr. rosas showed up and the class was quiet, attentive.

then the ninth graders showed up. half the class was new, and they were fucking animals. no other way of putting it. i just tried to get them to listen to aesop rock's song, "no regrets" so that we could discuss the theme and lyrics, and i couldn't get through it. cadet brown, a large black boy, and cadet powell, a slender black girl, started going at it. "nigger"-this, "bitch"-that, "fuck," blah blah blah. i sent them out, and they were still cursing each other as they walked to the door, staring each other down, ready to slit each other's throats. the class was in an uproar. i killed the music, and told them to journal for the rest of the class period. nobody listened. "man, you bug me. where's mr. nichols?" james liddle, the little white trash-white supremacist asked. "just journal," i said. "that's all you have to do." pretty soon, kids were out of their seats, talking, doing whatever the fuck they wanted. i sat at my desk and just watched them. i wanted to kill them. each and everyone of them deserved to die.

i must've had pure hatred in my eyes because cadet miles looked at me. he was the only one who looked at me, and i'll never forget that stupid look in his eyes. it was a look that said, here's another person who's given up on me. i watched the clock dwindle down. i still had a fucking reading period to get through. i decided this shit wasn't for me.

mr. rosas showed up at the end of fifth period, just as my reading period started showing up. "can i talk to you for a minute, mr. tan?" "sure," i said, and walked outside. "things get any better?" he asked. i shook my head, no. i couldn't talk because i was about to break down, and i didn't want to cry in front of any stupid cadets walking to their classes. "it got worse?" he asked. i nodded, yes. "is there anything i can do? anything you want me to do?" he asked. and, like a baby--i felt a lot like sam weir in an episode of freaks & geeks--i asked, meekly, "can i just go home?" he said that i could and i walked away as quickly as possible, holding back frustrated tears, feelings of failure.

i didn't even bother getting my things together. i just wanted to leave the campus as soon as possible.

my walkie talkie started going off. "melodee, can you cover room 13?" the background muffled, the sound of disaster, the sound of things falling apart.



ultrafknbd said...

I hope you're not discouraged, at least too much. I think it a very worthy effort and you know a bit more about yourself because of it. And as with any endeavor, you fail and fail and fail to see success, in whatever capacity, arise.

Maggie said...

james! of course i remember you. something perhaps to do with tetris and dorm rooms... toby was just telling me the other day to look at your blog.

i'm impressed that you took it upon yourself to give a hand at this very, very hard job. two days is still two days. that's much more than most people would give these kids. don't feel too discouraged. you'll help others.