Ponytailed metrosexual or debt-laden family man: it's the staff room Generation Game. . .
I reckon there is no greater breadth of variety in any profession than that of us educators. It's a kind of 'Generation Game'. Walk in to our staff room and you will find fine young things, born in the 1980s and in their early 20s, out clubbing every weekend, with their tales of living on a beach in Australia.
Up till Christmas last year we had a new history teacher, in his mid-20s, with a hideous ponytail, always wearing one of those girly wooden necklaces, expensive pointy shoes, boot-cut jeans and a tight-fitting crew neck who -- having gone through the whole interview process and after being granted a permanent and pensionable job -- decided to quit and head off to India.
Seems it's not just the plumber down the road that still can't be bothered to actually do the work even though there's a recession on.
Maybe our Fahrenheit-drenched metrosexual couldn't face doing the same job for longer than some of the older staff for less money, and paying higher pension contributions for a smaller return.
Then there are the 30-somethings, who have just sold their Mazda RX-8 for a Ford Focus to fit in the new baby seat.
Similarly, that two-roomed townhouse they bought at the end of their first teaching year has to make way for something with a garden for baby and a front door more than one foot away from the neighbour's.
Their salary has had at least a third chopped off with pay cuts and levies, so it's not looking good for them any time in the next 10 years.
Let's face it, 30-something teacher isn't going to sell that glorified doll's house and get a bigger mortgage.
On the other hand, maybe 30-something's parents indulged in a Celtic Tiger folly in Spain -- as a colleague let slip the other day, chuckling about how they can't use it because they're broke paying the mortgage but he can because he has three months holiday with the kids to fill in.
Then there are the teachers in their 40s who are stuck for good now.
They paid a fortune for their houses and haven't been in long enough to save. During the boom the banks laughed them out of it for having low-paid state jobs and families and no means of earning extra.
On the other hand it's looking good for the old hands in their 50s and 60s. When people whinge about these guys, they might have a point.
They got their paws on cheaper property before the boom and then got another mortgage for a second home on the continent, got their kids through university without having to pay fees and are now being paid off by the Government to retire so they can be replaced with cheaper staff as though schools were some kind of takeaway.
So next time you hear somebody referring to "the teachers", remember that like everyone else we too are not all in the same boat.