Stranded by a snowstorm earlier this week, we walked into a smalltown cafe one morning on the way home. Twelve faces turned our way in unison, grizzled mugs turning from their coffee mugs to regard the uninvited strangers. They stared, their eyes mistrustful under the bills of their John Deer caps. The silence was deafening. My husband whispered under his breath, “Don’t look now but we just walked into a Stephen King novel.” After a few moments, apparently convinced that our heads were not going to explode, they returned to their conversation as we sat down at a booth not far away, just close enough to catch bits of the exchange.
It was about teachers. Rather, it was about bashing teachers. All held forth on the bad things teachers do, especially to the commentator’s child or grandchild.
“If that teacher was doing her job,” he said [please excuse his smalltown lack of subjunctive], “my grandson would never of failed English [again, please overlook his grammar].”
“Well, I’ll tell ya,” said his tablemate, sloshing coffee as he banged his mug for emphasis, “That history teacher oughta be fired. . . he never does a g–damn thing.”
And so it went. The teacher bashing continued all during our breakfast.
How easy it is to hold forth against teachers. Undoubtedly none of our Stephen-King-cafe discussion group has set foot in a classroom for twenty years or more. They have no idea of kids coming to school after a meth-ecstasy-vodka party the night before–and possibly these were the guys’ grandkids. They have not tried to teach fetal-alcohol-syndrome kids nor have they tried to instruct the indulged and entitled. They have never faced, day by day, forty-five hormone-laced eighth graders. They have never experienced the delights and sometimes the despair of day-to-day working with kids.
I had to grab my 6’4″ husband’s arm to deter him from walking over and setting them straight. Instead, we just finished our coffee and made our way home, teachers under fire, but with our skulls intact.