« Vignette 2 | Main | Interlude 1 »

Plot 1

Norman Matthews watched Ellen Jones trudging up the path from the parking lot.  He shook his head and smiled ruefully.  He had been pushing her to work on an administrative credential, but watching her, he knew she'd never be in administration.  She tended to wear discount store specials that were two sizes two big, and made her look more overweight than she actually was.  It wouldn't kill her to try some mascara and lipstick either.  She had beautiful green eyes, but you couldn't see them behind the overly large glasses she wore, and this was aggravated by the fact that she was constantly pushing them back up on her nose.  Her dishwater blonde hair was flying away in the wind, and she often joked that she was having a bad hair life.  She had made an effort to dress a little better than usual today because of the meetings they would be having.  She wore a floral dress, with no appreciable waistline.  It looked like a maternity dress, though Ellen was single and childless.
Her shoes were flats, as usual, simple slip on loafers.  She owned at least four pair of those shoes, and alternated them based on the color of her daily outfit.  He had a sudden memory of the Garanimal clothing his wife used to dress their children in.  That's what Ellen looked like most days, like she was wearing Garanimals for adults.

He opened the door for her and she blustered past, almost tripping on the protective door mat.  She saved herself from falling gracelessly, losing her briefcase in the process.  Papers spilled everywhere, and she blushed furiously red as she bent to pick them up and shove them back in the case.  Norman calmly helped her gather her things and gave her a minute to recover her poise.  "Are you ready for them, Ellen?"

"No, Norman, I am NOT ready for them.  I am not ready to meet with a group of adults who believe that their children have been singled out for torture by a teacher who tortures all children equally.  They didn't turn in the project,and they failed the class. It's pretty simple."

"Well, they need to vent.  These boys got kicked off the basketball team a week before the playoffs.  The parents are upset.  They blame the teacher."

"Those boys have been on academic probation all semester.  If the parents were that concerned about them, why weren't they here earlier?  They're received several notifications that the boys were in danger of failing the class.  For crying out loud, the boys only needed to pass English and Government this semester.  I can understand them blowing off their electives, but they know the CIF policy as well as anyone else.  They knew that if they failed more than two classes, they'd get cut."

Ellen was trying hard to stay calm.  This was an extremely difficult situation all around.  The boys had been jerks, and had deserved to fail.  The teacher who had failed them, however, had a nasty reputation of unfairly picking on jocks.  He seemed to delight in the number of students he could personally have removed from a team.  Since he was the only senior English teacher at the school, every senior had to pass his class in order to graduate.  Rumors had been rampant for years about the teachers sadistic behavior, but no one had ever actually come forward and made allegations until now.

"Excuse me, Norman.  I'm going to go put my stuff away and get the conference room ready."  Ellen trudged through the office and opened her door.  The office was neat and tidy.  The only decoration was a wall full of pictures of former and current students.  Based on the inscriptions, Ellen was a beloved staff member.  She sat glumly at her desk and transferred papers from her briefcase to her desk.  She shuffled them around for a minute, then put her head on the desk. She was really dreading the meeting.  She despised both the teacher and the particular parents that she was supposed to be mediating.  She reached into her briefcase and pulled out a bottle of Aleve.  "Damn.  No coffee."

Ellen wandered into the faculty room, and poured herself a cup of tepid dishwater out of the faculty pot.  She wasn't allowed to make the coffee any more because people complained that it was too strong.  She looked at the cup and decided that it wasn't worth it.  She dumped the full cup in the trash and returned to her office.  Nothing on her voice mail was critical.  Nothing in the email needed to be attended to.  She pulled out the stack of graduation checks she was working on and began to slowly double check each one.  She kept a list of the names she needed to follow up on.  She wondered, as she did each year, whether a senior class could be in any worse shape than this one was.  She smacked her head with her palm and wrote a post-it note to herself to call the students in for financial aid checks.  The deadline was less than one month away.

She was really angry with Norman.  He had passed the buck in a big way on this conference.  It wasn't her job to deal with parental complaints about teachers or grades.  It was his.  He had sweet-talked her into facilitating the meeting.  "You are so great at mediating, Ellen.  I really need an assist on this one.  Otherwise it could get really ugly."  The only problem is, Ellen thought grimly, that not a single person involved is interested in mediating anything.  The teacher won't bend, the parents are insisting that their kids be able to play ball, and I get to sit there and listen to them insult each other for God knows how long until they all feel like they've said enough.  Nothing will change.  We all know this.  She sighed loudly and pushed her glasses back up on her nose.

The phone rang.  "They're here Ms. Jones."

"Thank you, Maria.  I'll be right out."


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Hosting by Yahoo!
[ Yahoo! ] options


Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)