I’m a busy man. That is the weak and watery excuse I use in circumstances such as these. I should be more of a people person, I know, but I have limited energy reserves and I prefer that energy was put into the children, not the staff.
The reality is not as harsh and cold as it might seem. I am a different person at work than at home but I am human. I laugh and joke with my colleagues at work BUT I simply do not want to hear their problems. I can’t hear their problems. Full capacity is the mode at which I operate in regards to problems. There are the children’s problems, there are the school’s problems; all vying for attention, all dropping on my shoulders as soon as I walk from the car park. I am at saturation point. I cannot take anymore problems on board.
Hence I don’t watch Eastenders at home. Fictitious problems are not entertainment. There are enough problems in the world without fabricating more.
But in the spirit of self-improvement, I confess I could be more vigilant of my surroundings and changes to the people within.
Mrs Head laments the fact that I am not the most observant of people. You can be pretty much guaranteed, dear readers, that after a party there will be a conversation more or less like the following at our house.
“Did you have a chat with so-and-so’s new girlfriend?”
“Which one was she?”
“She had a blue dress on. Black shoes”
“ She stood in the kitchen all night.”
“Uh…. Was she Australian?”
“No that was the neighbour from downstairs.”
“I chatted with someone from Perth, I remember that.”
“So and so’s girlfriend. Blue dress. She spilled her drink all over the host.”
Indeed the Assistant Heads at our school comment on the fact that I never notice changes to staff colleagues.
That probably stems from the fact I have a reputation for not entertaining anyone who is crying. So usually if someone has a personal or emotional issue they see one of the Assistant Heads who will give me a 8 word appraisal of the situation in language I can understand.
“X wants to go home early. Women’s problems.”
Women’s problems are a generic phrase which, in my book, requires no further extrapolation. In fact I think the staff suss this in me fairly quickly. That is why I can’t stay in one school for too long; eventually the staff work out that they can use women’s problems as a trump card.
The worse case I can remember was when a member of the support staff came to say goodbye as she was off for a year’s break. I asked her if she was planning to travel or do some research when she indicated her very pregnant belly. I hadn’t noticed. For eight months I hadn’t noticed.
In a sad attempt to counter this flaw in my character, I pretend to be observant when I am not. For example, while walking down the corridor and passing a colleague I might say “Oh, new haircut?” or “have you lost weight?” The response is usually confused dismissal. I walk off smug in the fact that I planted the seed in their head; that I might have taken an interest after all.
Today the IT Technician solemnly entered my glass box and shut the door behind him. His face was a tempest of strain and regret. For a moment I thought he was crying.
“I have some bad news, I have been transferred to another school. Today is my last day.”
I continued pouring a fresh cup of coffee as he told me that his bosses would be contacting me in the next few days and that the re-deployment was to a school where he wouldn’t be as happy as he had been with us.
I shook his hand and slapped him on the back and wished him luck. Wrongly assuming that was the end of our exchange, I returned to my work. The stern reality being, dear readers, that another IT Technician will arrive in his place and we won’t notice the difference. It was only when I spun my chair towards the door a full 45 seconds later that I noticed he was still there, head bowed.
“Was there something else?”
“I am sad to be leaving.”
“Oh well, we can’t stand still forever. Onwards and upwards and all that…”
Eventually he left the glass box; but at the pace of someone dragging a large boulder.
It wasn’t until the PA came in from her adjoining office that I knew.
“He has been seeing one of the support staff for the past two years- he doesn’t want to leave her.”
Once the PA informed me, dear readers, all was clear. Images began flooding my mind of the young Teacher’s Assistant in Year 3, the one who wore too much makeup and must have spent half her salary having her hair styled. On the days the IT Technician was on site, she seemed to be lingering in the main office far too long. I would sometimes see them, through the wall of my glass box walking off through the gates at lunchtime. He frequently seemed over-dressed for the working day.
“Ah! I see,” It was my Eureka moment.
“Two years it has been going on? Am I the only one who didn’t know?”
Apparently I was the only one, dear readers.
My lack of observational skills, my inability to actually see what I had been watching, had saved me from the demands of someone’s crisis. Phew.
And 8 months from now when the young Teaching Assistant from Year 3; the one that wears too much make-up and probably spends half her salary on her hair comes to my office to say goodbye, cradling her protruding abdominal bump with her hands, I will be prepared as I wave her out the door.
“You’ve had your hair done a different way,” I’ll offer.
Keep the Faith,