Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sub Notes: The Fire Drill

I’m subbing in a high school that never warns subs about pre-scheduled fire drills. Which is just mean.  So of course this particular school has them all the time.

Fire drills are a nightmare for subs. Imagine being charged with keeping track of 27 people you’ve never met before who are pretty much trying to lose you. And they’re all the same age and look surprisingly alike. And they know the surroundings much better than you do.

When you’re a sub, the problem with fire drills isn’t getting the kids out of the building. It’s keeping track of them while you do, then knowing where to take them. And getting them all back in again, of course.

Subs pretty much have to follow the kids, at least enough to know which are theirs and where they meet up outside. So once I tried following a girl in a red shirt. Later I found out I had managed to pick the only new student in the classroom. She didn’t know where she was going any more than I did, so we both ended up getting lost. If you’re lost, you are considered unaccounted for, and the fire department has to plan to go in after you. It’s all pretend, of course, but the fire department doesn’t enjoy even pretending to go in after you. Which is understandable.

One problem is that when you’re my age, they all look alike. If you decide to follow what looks like a distinctive plaid shirt, for example, when they all come pouring out of classrooms in thundering droves, suddenly there will be at least ten distinctive plaid shirts. And high school kids are big. They block your view.

So one of the last times I tried to follow several students at once. I kept repeating to myself what I was following. I kept repeating dreadlocks, flower-and-skeleton shirt, t-shirt with the word “bong” on it, girl-who-looks-like-the-girl-who-plays-Bella. Lost Bong Shirt immediately. Dreadlocks walked away, but I managed to track him down. Kept Bella Look-Alike in sight, but she was petite, so that made it hard.

In the end, I made it to the right place thanks to Flower-and-Skeleton kid, who was big. Hooray! But it turned out Flower-and-Skeleton had Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. He realized I was following him and took it personally.

He never forgave me for it.

Most people fail in the art of living not because they are inherently bad or so without will that they cannot lead a better life; they fail because they do not wake up and see when they stand at a fork in the road and have to decide. ~Erich Fromm, The Heart of Man; Its Genius for Good and Evil


  1. So funny - I just read this to my 17-year-old and she thought so, too. You're a brave, brave woman. Hehehe...

  2. At least you didn't have the kid who was told to fake an injury and refuse to leave the classroom. The teacher next door to me had one of those a couple years ago. She was in tears trying to get him out. He laid under a desk and said, "I think my leg is broken." She was supposed to notify the room-searching team, then get out, because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. The rest of her students needed her more. And that's why we have a room-searching team.

  3. I applaud you for doing it more than once. I'd'a been outta there after the first time they failed to warn me about it.

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  4. You poor thing. Makes for a really funny story though! I loved your descriptions of the kids you tried following... dreadlocks, flower/skeleton...

  5. Can you not rent a GPS and cheat?! :) Personally I would have followed the bong at all costs but then I figure if I'm going to burn might as well be happy. LOL

    BTW, I'm trying to get back and thank you ever so much for the encouragement from you, that was a huge compliment.
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  6. You can take the most mundane event and make it hysterically funny.

  7. Lisa, don't give away our secrets...LOL.

    Val, I am horrified! Fake injuries? Room-searching teams? Really??!

    Kay and Lynn, it's really not that bad. In spite of the horrors, it's a little fun to get to go outside.

    Jules, so glad you're back!!!


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