Wednesday 13 December 2017

The teacher's dream: his own private broom cupboard

My colleagues imagine ownership of what is in fact school property. Of course, you're nobody in the pecking order if you haven't requisitioned a broom cupboard as your personal office. And if you haven't got one, then you'd better start offering bribes to share with someone, as if you were bidding to host a World Cup.

Teachers will resort to sabotage and hiring creative architects just to get somewhere to hide from the deputy principal (that peculiar lackey whose only 'friend' is the principal) where they can take a snort of Jameson in private before having to face the second years.

Some of my colleagues have up till now kept the whereabouts of their oubliette secret just to avoid that unwelcome knock on the staff-room door.

There is always a teacher who, pausing from drinking his tea, hisses: "Who the hell is that? I thought we were granted the right of sanctuary in this place?" and there is another who simply shouts "f- off!" at the door.

Yes, kids, you might have a crushing headache and need to get permission from Mr Shine to go home early, you might even track him down during the 11 o'clock break and, sure, you actually believe that you can see him over there in the corner drinking out of that Liverpool mug that no one in their right senses would touch, but the teacher who has opened the door knows the code of behaviour.

He will blatantly lie and tell you that he's not there. He's probably doing yard supervision -- go on out and look for him and you know what, the fresh air will get rid of that headache. Slam.

If Mr Shine doesn't lobby hard or debase himself with another member of staff and get 'his' office, pupils will be able to track him, as easy as E-coli in a dodgy cucumber.

Once ensconced in his cave, he can make sure nobody else gets to use school property that he has purloined.

He's got the CD player from the language department, the filing cabinet stuffed with boxes of sought-after whiteboard markers, the laptops that were re-routed by the shady Windsor boys ('€50 will do, Sorr') on the way to the non-existent new students with special needs, and the DVD player that actually belongs to him because the principal wouldn't sign off on the €49.

It all starts low scale with pigeon holes. At the end of my first week, I noticed one labelled with the name of the priest who had done religion in my Dip class. Great, I thought to myself, I'll stick my teabags in there.

Suddenly I was surrounded by colleagues, with a snarling woodwork teacher at their head.

"That's not yours. You're not staying. That belongs to Father Feeley!" I looked up at his face, implausibly contorted with malice. Nobody was ready to defend me.

"Father Feeley's not coming back," I announced. "He might," snapped the Woodmaster.

"Unlikely," I replied. "I was at his wedding last weekend."

-- E Grade

Irish Independent

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