Thursday, July 9, 2015

The 300 Days: Part 3 - The Cat Lady and The Red Turtle Shell

Previously:  Part 1 and Part 2 

"Poor little Tin Man, still swinging his axe
Even though his joints are clogged with rust."
- "Boiled Frogs" - Alexisonfire 

As October set in, there were more changes approaching Will.  For one, he was moving apartments so that he might cut down on his lengthy commute; at the time he was driving almost an hour each way.  His new location would then cut his commute to a short 20 minutes.  However, the transition was not exactly seamless:  because of the timing and availability, Will didn't have Internet access or cable for approximately two weeks once he established his new residence.  Will was not too fond of the idea, but he made peace with the situation as he knew that all telecommunication corporations to be very trustworthy, flexible, and customer friendly.
In order to rectify the issue, Will frequented his local library in order to create his lesson plans and fulfill other such teaching duties.  Was it inconvenient?  Sure, Will was not exactly fond of sitting at the corner table, being looked at like some sort of predator daily basis, but it was free and it was two hours of absolute peace per day.  Will dealt with the cards in hand, but for one of his cohorts, it was not enough, nor would it ever be enough.

The dynamics of a classroom can be quite complex, depending on the students and staff involved.  A popular scenario is “co-teaching,” in which there are two instructors who both have a stake and attribution in the classroom.  Ideas are shared, collaboration is key, and the teachers are expected to share the work in the particular course, be it lesson planning, grading, instructional time, etc.  These classrooms can run extremely efficiently, as there are two “experts” in the field.  In Will’s case, there was one section during his day that was deemed “Supported Science.”  In this, the other adult’s (sometimes an aide, sometimes an Intervention Specialist) duty was fairly simple:  to support.  
For Will, he had an Intervention Specialist named Miss Marley who was the other “professional” in his class during this class period.  In this section, it was not to be as complex as a co-teaching scenario; it was merely the benefit of having two adults in the classroom to assist with whatever a daily lesson could entail, like pulling for small group instruction or giving accommodations for a test.
Now, as the class was Supported Science, there really was no obligation for Will, nor Miss Marley, in regards to collaboration.  However, being the first-rate citizen Will was, he was open to collaborate.  After all, why would he refuse the assistance of a professional?
Miss Marley was a very experienced Intervention Specialist, a self described "science guru," and she seemed to be very knowledgeable, both in content as well as student interaction.  However, Miss Marley was also incredibly high-strung and very needy. She was older, as indicated by her graying, thick, bushy hair, and was not married.  
Her overall appearance, in terms of presentation and apparel, seemed to resemble that of a haggard old woman who lived by herself in an isolated log cabin. The local parents would warn their dear little children of stepping on Old Woman Marley’s property.  The teenagers, giddy with anticipation, tried to sneak onto her land to catch a glimpse at her dusty decrepit domicile, tip-toeing close enough to see her in one of her baggy sweaters, which was littered with animal fur.  If they listened closely, they could hear her carrying on conversations with the local wildlife. Some even believed that the individual fibers from her thicket of unkempt hair were used to create dams for beavers.  The layman’s term for this type of person is “Cat Lady.”

Miss Marley’s dominating demeanor began to frequent Will’s professional life more and more, and she began to make some demands.  Her main concern (perhaps only concern) were a small group of students who were struggling academically.  Ironically, these students were also on her intervention caseload. 
Imagine that.  
As a means to combat the situation, she requested a meeting with Will in open time slot during the next week’s parent teacher conference night.  She also desired to meet with fellow teacher and the science department leader, Mrs. Chapman, so that together they could remedy the situation.  Naturally, Will waned what was best for his students and considered it to be foolish to ignore the advice of his fellow professionals.  With that, they agreed on a mutual time slot that suited the three of them.

If there were such a thing for a being to gain mass in a cerebral fashion, Will was the prototype.  It seemed that with each day, the pressure that built in his mind caused him to weigh down, feeling the pull of Earth’s gravity increase.  Between the general stress of the job and the staff relationships (or lack thereof), Will began to feel more and more isolated.  Few reached out to him in a friendly demeanor; most seemed rather cold or indifferent in his presence.
A major problem of this particular issue was how Will dealt with it.  Being a “victim” of the rare INFJ personality, Will tended to internalize much, particularly his imperfections.  His daily commutes consisted of worrying and playing out the day’s lesson in his head or replaying the day’s interactions on his way home.  To put it plainly, Will was more or less an avatar: his body present but his spirit elsewhere.  
With this mindset, Will was able to violate laws of physics.  As the common scientific law stated “matter cannot be created nor destroyed in a closed system,” Will was somehow able to build stress in his mind without so much as a word being spoken or an action being committed.  He merely re-lived daily events, especially ones of a negative nature, and caused his psyche to weigh him down.

Only days before his meeting with Miss Marley, Will was travelling home, considering what he would say and what he could do to help these five students that were struggling.  He thought about the work he was doing, hoping that it was sufficient.  He pondered about whether he had explained a concept clear enough, or whether he dealt with that one asshole kid in 6th period effectively...
Will came to a stop at a light.  It was a cool autumn day, so his windows were down.  There was a folder in the passenger’s seat with some tests he needed to grade.
The light turned green and the car in front of Will’s brake lights turned off and began to creep forward, Will followed suit and toed the gas pedal.  A split second later, a gust of wind shot through Will’s automobile, sweeping up the papers in the folder.  Will reached over quickly to grab the papers that were scattering, but it was too late…


For a brief moment, Will wondered what the hell had just happened.  He had been moving forward at no more than about 5 miles per hour then something stopped his motion.  However, it wasn’t his brake pads, or even a red turtle shell shot from a fellow driver in his race to get home.  It had been a taxi cab.
Realizing what he had done, Will put on his hazards and ran to the cab to make sure the driver was alright (he had been going maybe 6-7 mph, but still wanted to make sure the man was OK).  The man seemed to be a little shook up, but was alright.  Since they were in the middle of 4-lane, traffic light riddled highway, Will calmly suggested that they pull over to the shoulder.  The man seemed very stubborn, and in rough English “I’m not moving until my boss gets here.”
As Will waited for police to arrive at the scene, he took a look at the damage.  The taxi looked fine.  Other than some barely noticeable scuffing on the back bumper, the taxi was tip-top.  Will’s front bumper, on the other hand, now looked like Mickey Rourke.  First a busted ear-drum, and now a broken jaw.  Will was a horrible father.
Adding insult to injury, it seemed that just about every other car laid down their horns and yelled some sort of obscenity at him or the cab driver, telling them to “get the fuck off the road.”  Will began to feel even more frustrated with the situation, as he had already suggested that they pull over to the side but damn it, the driver was going to stand pat until his boss arrived on his white stallion.
Finally, an officer arrived and within the first three seconds said, “how bout we get the cars off to the side, huh?”  By then, the driver’s boss had arrived, taking pictures of everything and talking on his cell phone basically the entire time.  Next, the officer took statements from both parties, first the cabbie, then Will.  When Will’s turn arrived, he sat in the back of the police cruiser as the officer gave the cab driver some information outside.  He saw the “boss” pointing toward the police car; he did not look happy.
When the officer returned to his car, he mentioned to Will that “for some reason” the other driver’s boss “wanted (Will’s) address and contact information,”  Will chuckled nervously when the officer nonchalantly said “yeah, I think I pissed him off a bit.”  It took about 15 minutes, and Will gave him his statement and accepted the penalties.
As he drove home, embarrassed at his absentmindedness, he wondered why in the hell the driver’s boss even showed up, and why he demanded Will’s information.  He would learn two years(!) later, when he received a phone call from his old insurance agency, informing him that he was going to be sued for “bodily injury.”
Bodily injury. From a collision that resulted in a car being rear-ended at 5 miles per hour.  If that doesn’t scream “scam,” I don’t know what does.
When he arrived home (nevermind going to the gym now), Will talked to his insurance, and in order to get a correct estimate, they needed to send an agent to survey the damage of his bumper.  The earliest time the agent could come out was conference night.  “Fine,” Will thought, “I’ve got some breaks peppered in there.”  Considering how conferences typically went and the parents he was meeting with, Will figured having his car surveyed would be the worst part of his evening, but he soon learned otherwise.

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