Sunday, July 26, 2015

The 300 Days: Part 4 - The Amish Garage Sale and The First Meeting

Previously: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

"I did not know then that this is what life is - just when you master the geometry of one world, it slips away, and suddenly again, you're swarmed by strange shapes and impossible angles." 
- Ta-Nehisi Coates
“Hey, I’ll be right back.  I’ve got to run out to my car real quick,” Will said as he walked into Mrs. Chapman’s room during one of his short parent/teacher conference breaks.  He set down his agenda and a notebook that he would use for any sort of advice or ideas that Miss Marley, Mrs. Chapman, or he could come up with.  He retained information better that way.
After a few laps around his somewhat crippled car, the insurance agent informed Will that an estimate would formalized in the next few days.  There was a mild sting coming from his left butt-cheek, where his wallet was usually found.  But again, nothing else could really be done.  The sooner the repairs could be made, the sooner Will felt he could get things “back on track.”
For a second time, Will entered Mrs. Chapman’s room, this time Miss Marley was there.  It was apparent that today was indeed a special occasion, as she had traded in her usual dog-hair laden sweaters for a more formal, mute-colored dress.  Two options likely were in order for her rustic attire. One was she went buck-wild at an Amish garage sale. The other possibility is the shivering thought of a poor Burmese boy, waking up to the bright sun igniting his room, searing his retinas.  With blurred vision, the boy looks to his window and lets out a terrified roar.  His mother, rushing to the aid of her son, shrieks at the horrible sight and begins pleading to her deity as to why some monster would steal her old, beaten up drapes.  A 16 hour flight and a war with a needle and thread later, Miss Marley would have the wardrobe she always wanted.
An approximation of Miss Marley's appearance
The mood was set immediately by this draped educator.  For someone whose profession depended on her ability to work with humans both young and old, Miss Marley’s people skills were quite awful.  Her voice was candid; her tone accusational.  This was not a meeting; this was an intervention.  Will had been blindsided.
For the better part of 20 minutes, Will was bombarded with phrases like “kids are failing, I haven’t seen you do ANYTHING!”; “What are you going to do?; “I understand that you didn’t have internet for awhile, but…”; “You need to give me your lesson plans so I can modify.”
If there was one thing that Will learned about himself from his experiences, was that he could take a punch fairly well.  His appearance was cool and calm.  He maintained a positive and upbeat demeanor, giving the illusion that he wasn’t distraught internally.  At the conclusion, Will agreed that he would send his lesson plans to Miss Marley in advance so she could make the necessary “modifications.”  As a requirement for being the department leader, Mrs. Chapman recorded the reasons and outcome of the meeting for documentation purposes, and recited them aloud so that the understanding amongst them were consistent.  Will nodded, and calmly left, his head now an echo chamber:

“Why didn’t you ask or tell me this before?  Why did we have to involve Mrs. Chapman?  She has better things to do than this.  Okay, okay.  I get it.  I’m the low man on the totem pole.  Don’t make waves; just play the game.  No problem.  This will all smooth over...Right?”

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