You know you're a teacher when . . .
Some of my male colleagues have yet to turn up at work wearing a tie. It's as though they're stuck in the 1970s when the non-wearing of a tie was considered to be an act of revolution, a brave statement that 'put it to the man'.
They'd arrive in the classroom bearing a droopy moustache and a new-fangled BASF cassette recorder to thrill the kids with a blast of Simon and Garfunkel and the Beatles. Poor deluded eejits, their modern equivalent is still out there in the classrooms and in the examination halls, wearing hideous boot-cut jeans, Converse trainers and overpriced hoodies bearing the name of some overpriced American brand. Desperate to hide from society the fact that they are teachers, they are wasting their time.
I first realised this when trying on what I considered to be a pretty cool jacket in one of those Spanish clothes shops you find in every Irish shopping centre. You know the ones I mean – if a shirt is marked as 'large' this really means 'tiny' because the EU still hasn't ruled for a regulation size for human beings. Bananas, yes, but people no. Anyway, I was feeling good about this jacket when I made the mistake of asking herself what she thought. 'Well . . .' she said hesitating, 'makes you look a bit like a teach – . . . it's perfect!'
She knows better than anybody that there's no escape. We dropped into Woodie's DIY the other day and one of the staff approached me. It was Joe, a former pupil of mine. 'Hiya Sir!' he calls out. Always nice when they're so friendly and forgiving. I say it's been a while. 'Well, actually.' he continues, 'I saw you at an ATM in Piccadilly last month. Did you have a nice time in London?' As Piccadilly Joe heads off for the garden tools section she turns to me and hisses, 'Can we not go anywhere? It's worse than being a celebrity – at least they get into movie premieres for free!'
Like everyone else I am suitably appalled by those programmes on TV that expose negligence and unacceptable behaviour in Irish society. But because I am a teacher the agony is worsened by the plethora of basic errors of punctuation in the subtitled sections of secret recordings and the journalist's obvious inability to differentiate between words such as 'deny' and 'admit'.
It's because I know and accept that I am an incurable teacher that unlike others I have no problem ignoring rowdy, snotty-nosed brats in the supermarket. Not on my time, people, and besides nobody is scared of teachers anymore and you're hardly going instill the fear of God in them by flashing your Teaching Council card at them.
But I do wear a shirt and tie and avoid jeans. It just seems right.
– E Grade