Saturday, December 24, 2011

"Hey, watch your mouth!"

My first year at the middle school I currently teach at, the whole building was under construction. This wasn't a big deal except for one thing: We lost access to teacher-only bathrooms.

Teachers now had to shed their dignity and use the bathrooms the kids were using. I hated this for many reasons.

Even though the bathroom was right next to my classroom, the convenience did not outweigh the cost, and that cost was my own dignity.

Teacher's (well, most) drink coffee. Coffee is out elixir to dive into the morning at full speed. For some of us, teaching is a performance (except math teachers) and we need the energy. Coffee is also a diuretic. It makes you go.

During a period when I had no students in my room, I decided it was safe to attend the obnoxiously public bathroom. It was empty. I was safe. I chose the clean handicap stall (because middle school boys like to pee all over the seat when it's down, which is also highly frustrating, but they do have some assemblance of little souls and don't ruin the handicap stall). I sat down and started to go potty when three or four middle school boys decided to infiltrate my calm. That's when the ungainly dialogue started:

"Oh gawd, it smells like s#@$ in here!"

There were some other choice phrases uttered, as well. Ones that don't bear repeating.

Here I was, a teacher, in close range of middle schoolers using rough language and what was I going to do? Call them out?

"Hey, watch your mouth!"

I was not going to say anything, lest it be known that I was the one in the stall making the bathroom smell like $#!*. Instead, I kicked up my legs and had pressed my feet against the stall door so they wouldn't see my adult-looking shoes. I had to hide. I sat like that for a few seconds, raising a fist and cursing the lunch monitors for letting them leave the cafetorium to use the bathroom. Don't they realize that us teachers have nowhere to go? We are like open-range antelopes on the African plain.

Luckily, that was the last time I had to use the bathroom. Since then, I had surgery and I don't go anymore. There was no use waiting until after spring break to use an adult-only bathroom.