Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Well, here's one where I am totally wingin' it. I have no idea where this post is going to go, and no idea how it will get there. I got a call for work this morning, but it's for a Saturday assembly later in March. That's the best kind of call to get, actually. I go through this weird ambivalence over work every morning. If it's going to be a day shift I'll get the call around six AM when I'm sitting in the dark and quiet, ingesting caffeine, and silently reciting the prayer that has become a daily, and necessary ritual if I am to have any sort of bearings for the compass of the day's activities. The ringing phone goes off like a fire alarm that douses me in panic, and dread because I'm going to have to jump up, get dressed, chow down some oatmeal, and charge out the door to get the school open, and ready for the day. It's hard to understand the dread part of it. I mean- I like working the day shift. The first hour and a half is sort of hectic- get the office opened up, and the flags raised. Unlock the multi-use room, get the cart out, fill up a mop bucket, and hit the restrooms so they're disinfected, restocked, and buffed up all cleaned and shiny before the kids arrive. I have a thing about opening a school with the restrooms looking good. I never want some kid to be able to go home and tell his folks that the bathroom was all gross. Odd that I make a point of pride in such simple stuff, but somehow I do. But the rest of the day is actually kind of fun. I can noodle about the small tasks of the day, and if there's a call on the walkie talkie its usually to change a light, bring some paper towels to a room, or fix some minor thing in a classroom, and look like a small time hero saving the day for Mrs. Jones third grade. Sometimes the kids even cheer. It's kinda' cute.

If there's no morning call, that still leaves the possibility of a night shift open, so I take things easy throughout the rest of the morning. But the sense of dread grows steadily until about eleven thirty, or noon, and with each passing hour the ambivalence see-saws between hoping I get a call (which means money), and dreading the call (because it means slogging through the night shift until ten thirty at night). And if I do get a call, I take the assignment, and then have to hold on for the onslaught that my head has waiting for me. I feel sick. I'm too tired to do it. Something is going to come up- I hope. This all goes away as soon as I get signed in, and begin working. But if I don't get a call, I'm disappointed, and sure I've been phased out for someone younger, faster, and better at everything than I ever was. It's just a crappy game my head plays on me. And I fall for it every time.

But maybe I'll go back to the morning couch- talk about opening the day with prayer. It is a habit, now, of many years, although I can not put a starting date on it, and the prayer itself has grown and changed with time. To those from the coonosphere proper it will not seem like anything remarkable that I do this. We all do something in the same vein, and no one would question the benefit, or efficacy of so beginning the day. And I was over at Vanderleun's Site site this morning, and read his superb essay on Grace. It's a moving, and beautiful piece, and worth reading regardless of your take on matters of the spirit.

But like any essay that addresses the topics of Faith, and God it drew a volley of cheap shots, and snark from the usual crowd of yammering atheists, all trying desperately to shoot the piece down, or score what they are sure will be the winning point in their all too clever game of 'gotcha'. There was a time when I probably would have been yapping right along, and slinging poo if I couldn't get a rise any other way, but it's been a long time since I was a post teen know-it-all. I was tempted to jump in for a game of whack-a-troll, and if the topic were politics, I might have done it. But the essay was too good to spoil with an online fight with ignorants.

I don't quite understand the whole trolling thing. I know there are zillions of sites and blogs out there that I could find to disagree with. Somehow, it just never occurs to me to seek out someone else's turf, and barge in there to pick a fight. And it obviously never occurs to the trolls that they never, ever succeed in breaking another person's faith. There is not a one of them that has ever won a convert. And not a one of them that succeeds in doing anything other than looking petty, small minded, and ultimately foolish. Yet they persist. It's obvious that they never convince anyone else. Perhaps what they are really trying to do is convince themselves. And if they really believe that all this faith business is nonsense, why do they need further convincing?

Anyway. That's all the stuff that the top of my head had to offer this afternoon. Tomorrow, no doubt, I'll have that one post that will light up the whole blogosphere, and have the world at my doorstep begging for more. No doubt.



walt said...

Ho! From the tip of your brain to our eyeballs!

Pretty likely that any situation where you're "on call" you're going to feel the tension associated with "not knowing." When I was doing landscape and construction work it was like that; I'm sure docs and cops and firemen and soldiers all feel it too. It means that it's pretty hard to relax, or feel "easy."

I suppose the good news is that it is varied, and not as deadening as doing repetitive work, day in, day out.

I've spent much of my adult life trying to get into a situation where I didn't feel "conflicted." As we talked about before, the closest I came was the total engagement that came from creativity, in my case while operating a business. But there were still umpteen challenges and problems everyday, so really, I never found the ideal, prolly because it doesn't exist in that way.

Seems to me that if you can extract learning and meaning from the dis-order of daily affairs -- and just rest in that, like Bob says about gnoing -- then at least something of benefit grows every day. I realize you're already doing that with your morning studies.

wv sez I've exhausted my ration on commentary, and should be still now.

julie said...

Odd that I make a point of pride in such simple stuff, but somehow I do.

No, not odd (at least, it shouldn't be...). Honorable

QP said...

It was the early morning phone call waking me out of a sound sleep to go to a substitute teaching job that I dreaded. Much preferred to get a call the night before or better, a week long gig. My longest gig lasted 6 weeks until they just hired me as the full-time art teacher to finish out the remaining 2 months of the year, when the original one finally bowed out permanently. That was a miracle breaking into a hard to get art teaching position, plus being hired full-time - it's so much less expensive for the district to pay a sub.

The principal who hired me got fired that summer; which is almost unheard of.
I think he was the first truly crazy person I had ever met. One day, after I called him to my room to break up a fight between 2 fifth grade boys, he asked me to my face, "What'd ya do to set them off?" Duh. After class, I had to report to his office to make a statement. He told me he'd have to file a formal report, which would go in my record. I chatted him up for a bit and let slip that my husband was a civil trial lawyer. No formal report was filed.

I always had great custodians - they'd go above and beyond - but then again the kids and I cleaned up after ourselves (except vomit) if I could help it. My motto: "Everybody does a little; nobody does a lot".

Well, if the quiet pot hasn't carried on. Like your easy going style John.

mushroom said...

Julie's right, honorable is the word.

The nice thing about hotline calls is that I have no idea when they are coming. It used to be the pager -- which played the theme from Hawaii 5-0 -- now the cell phone goes off on the nightstand at some low numbered hour. There is no time for dread for I am thrown into the fray still in my drawers.

Hotline calls make up maybe 2% of my job, if that much, but they are a good 25% of the fun. They are, for all the stress, possibly my favorite part.

xlbrl said...

I came to your blog via your atheist troll comment on vanderleun.
That boiled all the water off and left the scum. Very close to an aphorism.
Eric Hoffer was an unusual sort of atheist. He had this to say about them--
What offends in the literature of dissent is the lack of hesitation and wonder.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Great post and comments!
I like yer motto, QP! :^)
Anf takin' pride in yer job is honorable, John.