It’s not about the clichéd grass…

but every now and then, I miss my office job. Being a teacher is great, and I could spew off a bunch of flighty things about why it’s such a meaningful career and blah blah blah, but some days… Some days I want my spin-ey chair and cubical.

No matter how much I used to curse that phone when it rang, I always had the option of ignoring it. The hapless receptionist downstairs couldn’t see me, and if I punched the volume button fast enough, nobody else if the open-concept office even knew what was happening. Ignoring those calls meant that I could get other work done, or finish something time-sensitive, or calm down before I picked up the phone again, lest my sarcasm find a way to creep out and stun with its glory.

I didn’t ignore my phone often, though. I worked reception enough to know how bloody annoying it is when people do that, but if I needed it, it was there. Somehow, I don’t think walking out of the classroom and pretending that it didn’t exist would go as unnoticed.

Of course, some colleagues would never even know. I mean, knowing that I had calmly left 30 teenagers to do…whatever…would be pretty big news, but we would have to have actually met in order for them to care. I have a huge cubical these days – the size of a whole room – but with it comes fewer friends.

There are dozens of staff I’ve never talked to, let alone gotten on a first name basis with. The kids are often surprised that I don’t know who Mr. or Ms. So and so are, but they can take solace in the fact that their other teachers don’t know who I am either.

It’s too bad really. Who am I supposed to bitch to in code, using theoreticals and allegories to ensure that I’m not violating any privacy decrees or professional standards, while still retaining my human-ness? I do miss the days of easy venting and office cliques. It sounds strange, but it’s a sort of camaraderie of the Joni Mitchell, “don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone,” variety.

Though, to be fair, I’ve stopped trying to get to know my colleagues. It’s too sad in June when I have to leave them. It’s like a large-scale break-up every year as I’m punted from school to school, going wherever they need my unique set of overachieving talents. I never would have thought that knowing where my office was located each September would be a novelty, but hey, teaching is a practice, don’tcha know? We’re always learning. Or making mistakes. Either way.

I wouldn’t give up my current spin-ey chair for any of the fancy ones I used to have – I never have a chance to sit in it anyway – but some days, I have to admit that there were some perks to being an office lackey. Only some days, though.