TEACHERS: RETIRE WHILE YOU’RE SOMEWHAT SANE
The conversation must have sounded odd to anyone within hearing range in the restaurant where my daughter and I were eating a leisurely breakfast. I had thought a celebration was in order. I was finally retired and feeling it. After a year of continuous work, in which I was supposed to be retired but couldn’t tell it, I had a free day – one where all my teacher friends and all the students I know were in class and I wasn’t.
Back to the conversation. “Genie, are you all right?” She said she was fine, but I had startled her with the sudden vehemence of my question. “But you suddenly look so pale,” I insisted. And then I noticed that my glasses were missing.
“Where are my glasses?” Another almost-shouted question. Genie laughed aloud at that one. She pointed to my glasses on my head. I pulled them into position to help me see more than a few inches from my face. “No! My REAL glasses! These are my sunglasses.”
And then I began to laugh. Of course, Genie looked pale. I had been looking at her through my dark sunglasses, then absentmindedly shoved them up on my head.
Of course she looked pale by comparison. Next panic question: “If I’m wearing my sunglasses, then WHERE are my REAL glasses? If they’re lost, I’m in deep trouble!” My sunglasses are fine for driving, but would never get me through an entire day of work and reading. They are my old prescription glasses, tinted to make sunglasses for one who can’t see to get around without at least that much help.
I did remember to pay the bill, even managing to write a check that at least resembled my usual ones enough to pass at the bank, and we went to Genie’s car.
“If my glasses I mean my real glasses are not in here, we will have to retrace our path.” That would include a trip to Romie’s, where I had gone in a last-minute panic to get chips and a drink to pack a school lunch for my youngest child, then to Tupelo High School, where I had dropped her off for the beginning of another semester, a trip to the gas station, then the post office, then home, then to the body shop where we had just delivered my car to be repaired after an encounter with the back bumper of a van whose driver didn’t see me parked behind him.
Luck was with me. I looked into the car, and there lay the much-needed glasses on the floor, where they had fallen out of my purse. Then I stood there waiting. And waiting. The car door wouldn’t open. It was locked, and the lock was stuck.
Another fit of hysterical laughter (there are days when I am easily amused). “At least if I’m to stand out here and freeze to death, I have the comfort of knowing that I didn’t lose my glasses!” I’m not sure what the significance of that statement was, but I do know that people were looking in our direction from a block away. One brave soul even ventured a quick morning’s greeting as she skittered past us and into the restaurant.
Finally, Genie got the car door unlocked, but only after she’d rolled down the window enough to hand my glasses out to me. I put them on, after shoving the sunglasses back on my head.
Home safely. I reviewed phone messages. Dr. George had called from Mississippi State. They had located my lost grade book that I’d searched frantically for all during the holidays. I’d left it in the registrar’s office when I turned in my grades for the two classes I taught last semester. Whew! Thank goodness! I could do the report that would finally end my responsibilities for those two classes.
So what does this retelling of a zany morning’s events in my life have to do with education? It serves as a warning to all those teachers contemplating retirement: Better do it while you’re still sane enough to enjoy!
Jane Talbert is a teacher/consultant with the Mississippi Writing/Thinking Institute.