State Farm to State Employee

When you’re a teacher you must love your job.  You don’t have to love it everyday – that just doesn’t seem normal – but life is too short to hate what you.

I’ve worked plenty of jobs before I became a teacher.  In college I worked at State Farm as a file clerk.  I would go out with my boss Ed for lunch and drink Champagne.  When that didn’t work out I started working for Stan at TSV Video – first on Broad Street then on Broughton.   I had a great time at TSV and actually continued to work there in the summer even after I became a teacher.

I worked at Studio One as a tanning bed / toning bed operator then I graduated college and got my first “real job”.  My first job was working in SoHo in New York City for a fat guy named Bill at a French steel company.  His boss was a corner-office American who smoked so much that he smelled like cigarettes and all his white shirts were turning yellow.  He had B.O. too.  You would have thought that he was French – no offense.

I was in the claims department with Gigi and John – a great guy who couldn’t stop staring at my boobs until I started talking to his crotch – then he stopped.  Gigi and I had to translate claims from English into French and send them off to our parent company in France.  It was ok.  I loved going out to lunch to some of my favorite places like The Ear Inn, Marinella’s, Tutta Pasta, The Magic Carpet, Shopsin, etc.  A definite perk to working in NYC.

My next job was at a French cheese company in Midtown Manhattan.  I worked for Philippe and Françoise (and Paul the cradle robber) and shared an office with a girl named Sandra.  We had so much fun in that office.  I wrote poetry, Deb wrote invitations, Diane read Tarot cards….. you get the picture.  I was in the international division and was responsible for accounts payable and receivable and was a liaison with customers in three languages – French, Spanish & English.

I don’t even remember what exactly happened but I received my paycheck and they docked me for week for some reason.  I went in to see Lidia and asked her what happened.  She said, “Paul thought it was fair.”  What?  Docking me for a week without telling me in advance so I could make other arrangements to pay my bills?  Insane.  I was so pissed off that I marched into Françoise’s office and told her that I was going and that I wouldn’t be back.  I walked out on the spot.  When Philippe called me to complain that I “walked out”…. I didn’t succumb to pressure and secured a job at a rival cheese company in NJ.

I must say I hated working in NJ.  My friends stabbed me in my back, my life got  a little bit boring and it was not for me – except I was 2 minutes away from Willowbrook Mall – BONUS!  And to top it off, my old Midtown Manhattan company became our supplier.  How awkward was that?  But it all worked out.  This job was the straw that made me go back to school for my Master’s and teacher certification.  I would come home crying to my parents every day – I was a nervous wreck.  I developed severe IBS, went out on disability and never came back.  Thank God.

So now I’m a teacher and I love it.  Sometimes you forget why you do what you do – especially when you’ve tried everything and you’re at your wit’s end with a student.  No work, disruptive – you name it.  You call guidance.  You call home.  You give detention.  You give them a referral.  Then one day when you think you’re done with the kid, you write him off as a lost cause and then fate intervenes.

On the same day you think that you’ve had enough, it so happens that he has detention after school with you.  You couldn’t get through during class.  You try to get through to him after school.  Then he starts, in a matter of fact way, opening up to you and telling you everything that’s going on at home – and it’s horrible.  My heart was breaking today as I listened to this kid tell me heart-wrenching stories about his home life.

I talked to him one-on-one and may have gotten through – only time will tell.  He thanked me 3 times before leaving my room today – I’m not sure why but I hope our chat helped him get some things straight in his head.

Walking out of the building today he was on my mind so much that I shared the situation with my friend and could feel the tears welling up in my eyes as I choked up just thinking about what my student had to go home to.  I jumped in my car before anyone could see past my crumbling brick wall or notice my soft spot for troubled kids.

I’ve been on both sides of the career fence.  The kids make it all worth it even though you want to brain them sometimes.  People say that you never know what really goes on in someone’s house.  I believe that and I know if I knew half of the things that were going on in my students’ lives, I would turn to a pile of mush.


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