This has been a crazy week. Not your ordinary kind of crazy, but that special once-in-blue-moon type of nonsense-filled period with the emotional roller-coaster added, free of charge. The kind of week that, when it’s over and after you’ve replayed the week’s events in your mind for the umpteenth time, you’re stuck looking around with a confused expression and asking anyone who’s brave enough to walk near you, “What the heck just happened?”
Yeah. That kind of week.
It all started with me being lazy.
See, I have a standing appointment with a group of friends where we play games. Recently, it’s been a couple of strategy games, but it’s something that we’d do every Monday evening to pass the time away. With the start of the fall semester, however, my Mondays were now filled, so as a favor to me, they guys moved the games to Sunday afternoon, which collectively are easier for me to make.
Unfortunately, I was unable to get there on time last Sunday because of the aforementioned laziness. Remember those violent headaches of which I’ve spoken many a-time? Well . . . When I’d gotten to a point where I felt together enough to venture out, it was nearly a half-hour after our game time, and adding the travel time to that, I didn’t even get to the door until nearly 90 minutes after our start time. I was not, therefore, surprised to find that the game was well underway; I expected as much. What surprised me – and it’s totally my own fault so I’m not bothered – was that they’d gotten so far into the game that it was neither practical nor possible for me to “jump in.” I was out, and that was that. I chatted for a while, but it was clear that I was a fifth wheel, so after I’d stayed for a socially acceptable amount of time, I made a bee-line for the door, and quietly drove home.
If only the rest of the week could have been that easy . . .
It was a standard day. I taught; students listened. I grumbled over receiving announcements of major campus events that were delivered to my e-mail too late for me to actually inform anyone of them. I bought a steel coffee mug with a secure lid over the summer for my teas; I didn’t want to spend twelve bucks on a cup, but it promised that it could keep it’s contents hot or cold for up to eighteen hours, and I was sold. I brewed a kettle of water for my tea at 8 am, and I was still burning my tongue at 3 pm; I can’t remember the last time I’d spent twelve bucks on a better product. On the way out, I ran into a colleague that I hadn’t seen in over a year; we sat and talked, catching up and then some. It was nearly 5 pm when I hit the parking lot, exhausted and hungry, and wondering when my tongue would heal, when I took out my phone to check for messages.
One missed called and five texts sent in rapid succession awaited me. Seems that the Little Woman was involved in a car accident, and she’d been trying to reach me. Now, she knows that I turn my phone off when I work – she does the same – but I was panicked over the idea that she needed me and I’d been beyond her reach. I called and learned that she was fine, but shook up: No one was hurt, but her car was in dire need of TLC.
Now, I work about 90 minutes away from home, so that was a very hectic trip, and it taking place during Rush Hour didn’t help. But I made it and I don’t know who was more excited – her, seeing me, or me finally seeing her. She was still shaking – by this point, the accident was nearly four hours ago – but so was I. It took her two days to really calm down, and two more for her to stop blaming herself. It was an accident, I told her; just leave it at that. We still don’t know how much the repairs are going to be but we’re ready for them.
Ah – midweek! The Little Woman is starting to return to normal and life is good. Work is going better than I’d imagined it would this early in the semester, but I’m going through my notes in one class far faster than I should; soon, I’m going to run out of prepared material and I’ll need to come up with more. Not a big problem, but not one that I want to deal with at this point. Still, if this is the worst the day has to offer, I’ll take it.
Alas, I spoke too soon. Way too soon.
During an impromptu meeting, a colleague, one with whom I’ve been cordial, decided – for who-knows-what-reason – to call me out in front of everyone on something I’d done in one of my classes. Not only was this unprofessional (to put it politely), but it was full of bunk. See, my colleague has never seen me teach; the “complaint” made wasn’t even a viable complaint, but rather a misinterpretation of an idle comment. (I really wish I could be more specific here because the whole episode was ridiculous, but I can’t.)
Aside from the obvious – someone talking sh*t about something they know absolutely nothing about – I have a serious problem with what happened because I had something similar happen to me once before, many years ago. It was during my salad days, when I was a relatively new instructor at a school I’d worked long before getting my current gig. A department assistant called herself tattling on me (really, Donna? You were damn near fifty at the time, geesh), because she thought I said I’d give some student a good grade just to get them out of my hair. Of course, I said nothing of the sort, but that didn’t matter to the dean of the school’s faculty, who sent me the most offensively confrontational passive-aggressive note that I’ve ever seen. To my everlasting regret, I did not save the note, but I do remember that he questioned my teaching ability, my classroom management style, and my professionalism, adding that I might want to consider looking elsewhere for employment – all over an alleged statement that he’d made no attempt to verify.
I responded in kind, saying that his letter was “reprehensible” (yep, I said that), and pointing out that had he taken five seconds to ask me about the situation, rather than assuming that I’d done wrong, we’d be having a totally different conversation right now. Nothing ever came of the episode, not even an apology when the dean learned the truth, and I continued to work for that school for another three years before moving on. Donna found it difficult to look into my peering, accusatory gaze from that point forward – I made a point of always looking her directly in the eye whenever we’d pass each other in the hallways – because she knew that she was wrong.
Well, the event of Wednesday was nearly identical – someone saying something that bore no evidence of reality. I was hot – I still am – but I didn’t respond the way I should have. I mean, I should have jacked this person up by the throat, but I wasn’t going to do that. Instead, I corrected their fantasy and pointed out that there had to have been some miscommunication along the way. But here’s the telling part: It’s clear to me that this person expected the other people in attendance to pile on me and they didn’t.
Nope; quite the opposite, in fact.
But this is proving to be longer than I’d expected, so – cliffhanger – I’ll have to continue this in another post.