Friday, November 22, 2013


I have a favorite water bottle - or I should say I have four of them.  I think the brand is Contigo.  It has a wide enough mouth that I can fill it with ice, then water, directly from the refrigerator's ice maker.  It doesn't leak when it is turned sideways or upside down.  So now, rather than freeze plastic bottles partway and fill the rest with water, I just take one or two of my Contigo bottles with me on subbing jobs.  They keep the water and ice cold for at least 24 hours - I have tried it.  And I like my water very cold. 

The fact that these bottles are so convenient meant that, when I accidentally left one on the teacher's desk at a job, I was anxious enough to get it back that I actually turned around to go back and get it.  But, alas, the door to the school was already locked and there was no one there to let me back in.

Fortunately, a few days later, I was called for a job at that school again.  So, I went to the teacher in whose room I had been.  I told her that I had subbed for her a few days before (and got a blank stare) and I asked if she had found my water bottle.  She said they had found a water bottle, but that no one claimed it.  Maybe I should look in Lost and Found.  I did, and it was there!  I was happy.

And then, I got to thinking:  the water bottle was left on her desk.  Why, when she asked the students, did no one even think that possibly it was The Sub to whom the water bottle belonged.  She had my contact information - I leave that with the teachers I sub for.  But no one thought about The Sub, that the water bottle might possibly be hers.

And that is because The Sub isn't a real person.  She is just a place holder.  Someone who goes through the motions of being the teacher for the day, but someone easily replaced and - anonymous.  Yes, they know my name.  And sometimes they even remember my face, or that I have been in the school before.  But I am not someone they think about.

I once introduced myself to a teacher for whom I had substituted for 8 days.  He showed absolutely no interest in talking to me.  I have, at various times, also mentioned to other teachers that I subbed for them - again, no interest, no positive response - just like the blank stare I got when I asked about the water bottle.  I am a non-entity.

I understand how busy teachers are, how much they have on their minds, and how much they need to care about the students in their charge.  I know they don't have much left over for The Sub.  But a smile of recognition would be nice.

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