Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A View Of The Dark Side Of The Teacher's Lounge

Careful, Timmy. What happens in the teachers' lounge should stay in the teachers' lounge....

The A.P. released a story about a middle school teacher in St. Louis who not only showed up to teach class drunk, he sent one of his students to his car to fetch his bottle of cognac, made a lewd remark and inappropriate advances toward two of his female students, and had a stash hidden in his desk. The man, who had a 22 year career in the classroom, has been charged with misdemeanor assault, and misdemeanor disturbing the peace. The school district is moving to have him fired.

It's one of those stories that's so sad, all you can do is laugh. It made me chuckle and cringe at the same time because it brought back two distinct memories.

1) I attended a small Catholic grade school back in the day. I always looked forward to St. Patrick's Day - not because we didn't have to wear our gaudy plaid uniform (we were told to wear green, so it wasn't much of a tradeoff), but because the teachers always made it a free day so they could enjoy the Irish Coffee they got as a treat. If you've never had Irish Coffee, here's a peek at a recipe:
1 cup coffee, fresh brewed
3 sugar cubes
3 tablespoons Irish whiskey (1 jigger)
Pour coffee into large mug. Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
Add whiskey and stir to combine. Top with whipped cream and serve.

They'd sip their coffee and smile. We'd have a day where we did absolutely nothing except look for kids who didn't wear green to pinch. It doesn't get much better than that. Occasionally, a teacher would send one of us to the mysterious (only because it was off limits) teachers' lounge to get another cup with a stern warning NOT TO DRINK IT, because "coffee will stunt your growth, you know." Amazingly, no child ever dared to take a sip and no teacher ever felt the need to fondle a student after a cup or two.
If the Irish Coffee was particularly strong, the teachers would look like this by recess.

2) One of my first grown up jobs was at the information desk at a local mall. One of my duties was managing the mall's Santa display, including organizing visits by school groups. I had to help train Santa and his helpers and schedule the staff to make sure Santa and his elves were always there. Everything was fine until one morning I heard one of the kids in a school group ask another, "How come Santa smells like that?" When I looked over, Santa was beginning to nod off with a child in his lap. I went over to the display, explaining to the kids that Santa had been working very hard in his workshop the night before. When I tapped Santa on the shoulder, he snapped forward and began talking to the kid in the warm, fuzzy cadence of a drill sergeant. A drunk drill sergeant.

"What do you want for Christmas, kid? Have you been good? Smile for the camera. Get down. Next!"

I called the mall manager, and Drunk Santa (a former assistant mall manager, by the way) was sent home. We sent the remaining kids to other activities and called for a replacement. Soon everything was back to normal.

When Santa's bad, not good, who tells him to be good for goodness sake?

Until the next day, that is, when one very concerned mother came over to the information desk to report that Santa had invited her to sit on his lap. ("Ooh! What a fine mama you are! Heh, heh, heh...") When she refused, he gave her his best flirtatious grin (as flirtatious as a grin can be when one is missing a couple of teeth), and asked, "Don't you want to come here and take a ride on Santa's sleigh? Heh, heh, heh...." To bring the point home, he looked down at his crotch, then looked back at her and winked. All in front of her child who, mercifully, was too young to understand what was going on.

I called the mall manager, and Horny Santa (who not only admitted that he liked to flirt with the ladies, he bragged about how he'd been doing it for years - "and nobody's ever complained before....") was gone. We ended up using one of the other mall staff members, a 20-something guy who was tall enough to be a basketball player (it looked like Santa was wearing furry Bermuda shorts when he put on the costume) and wasn't very fond of children as a fill-in for the rest of the season. I hated the holidays for a long time after that.

I imagine the principal at that school in St. Louis could relate to my stories after his experience this morning. Let's hope he waits until after class is over before he takes a drink to cope.

More to come later.


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