Yesterday, it was a professional day and my local teachers’ association convention. As I told the kids, they didn’t have to go to school but we teachers did. They all thought that was pretty funny.
Many of these conventions are actually a waste of my time. One reason for this is that I’ve been teaching so damn long that I’m rather stuck in my ways and am not interested in anything new. But mostly it’s because my specialty is French Immersion kids with learning difficulties, and so there are only rare workshops that pertain to this rather odd niche that I have carved out for myself. Once in a while there is a workshop that deals with some facet of my job that I can adapt into French – which is what every French Immersion teacher must do a lot of the time at these events. But sometimes the best I can do is purchase some French stickers.
This year, however, there was a workshop on brain functioning that I thought would be interesting. It was all morning, which meant that I didn’t have to find another (probably useless) workshop for the day. Win!
As usual, parking at the venue was quite limited, so I got there very early and secured a parking spot for myself. Win! I leisurely went into the building and found the food. Win! I toured around the publishers’ displays, which weren’t too crowded yet. Win! – except that there was actually not a lot to see, and only a couple of things in French.
Eventually, I headed to the room in which my workshop was being held. It was just down the hallway from the food – more win! I walked in and heard my name being called. It was a co-worker of mine, someone with whom I get along extremely well, so I went up to sit and giggle with her. Win!
Just before the workshop started, a man with whom I have worked off and on for a few years came in to join his buddies who were sitting just down the row from me. I do not like this man. I find him pedantic and disorganized and socially inept and I don’t respect him. He’s one of those people who thinks he is hilarious and retells the same stories over and over, because you laughed politely the first time you heard them – twelve years ago. He also speaks in a very odd manner that I find extremely difficult to follow, so I tune out a lot of what he says anyway. But that doesn’t matter to him, he just keeps up his monologue, regardless.
And this man was now sitting two seats down from me. Not a win.
I ducked my head and hissed to my pal beside me, “Switch seats with me! Look who’s sitting there!”
She looked. She giggled. She knows the guy too. She shares my opinion. She switched.
“Don’t you dare lean back now!” I cautioned her. “If you do, he might glance over and see me! And I DON’T want to talk to him!”
The workshop started, and it was great. The material was fascinating, the presenter was organized and well-spoken. Yet another win!
At the break, my friend and I waited until the-man-we-were-avoiding left the room, then we left too, in search of coffee. The break was supposed to be 10 minutes, but apparently we have no sense of time, because when we came back, the door was closed. The guy standing there told us that the presenter was speaking again, so we’d have to wait for a break before he’d let us in. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait too long. He opened the door and ushered us in.
I went first, my friend close on my heels. The stairs were near the door, so that could be done fairly unobtrusively, but who was sitting right at the top of the stairs? The-man-we-were-avoiding. No avoiding him now! I scrambled up as fast as I could, and as I approached the top, everyone there started shifting around and standing up so that we could get past them as quickly as possible to regain our seats. I waved my hand at the-man-we-were-avoiding, whispering in a mock angry voice, “Hey! Move!” Fortunately, he couldn’t really say anything back to me at the time, but he did grin at me as he stood up to let me pass.
Except I couldn’t. My foot got stuck in between the corner of the step and the seat in the row ahead of us, right in front of the-man-we-were-avoiding. Who else does this kind of thing happen to?!? Only me!
I desperately wiggled my foot for what seemed like an eternity. My friend was smirking behind me and all these people (including one I had tried so hard to avoid) were standing up in the middle of a workshop while the speaker was talking, waiting for me to move past them to get to my own seat. I finally got my foot loose, and apologizing profusely, got to my seat as fast as I could. The whole situation was definitely not a win.
But at the end of a truly terrific three-hour workshop, I got out of the room safely, without having any type of exchange with the-man-we-were-avoiding. Win!
I will, however, have to see him on Monday. I’m sure I’ll hear all about the inglorious incident. Over and over and over and over and over ….