The last car in the parking lot. The last to click off the light switch. The lonely click-click-click of heels on tile. When you’re the last teacher in the building — when even the administrators have thrown in the towel — a school can be a very lonely place.
The copy machine groans as it’s turned back on. I should be sleeping, it’s thinking. (Ditto, I think.) It develops a strange moaning sound as it spits out the handouts for my presentation. Does it always make this noise? In retaliation, it leaves a single black line going across every page and runs out of staples at packet 100 of 200. That’s ok, I think. I love hand-stapling. I welcome the karma that comes to me for procrastinating on this project.
I pack up my cart, and it’s not until I’m on my way out, walking down the long empty hallway, a janitor’s supply cart peeking around the corner, that I realize the organism that IS a middle school when all the students and teachers are there. How bereft of life it becomes when we all leave and only a few rows of lights still glow, casting shadows from locker banks. Though it’s impossible to find a moment of solace from 8 to 3, when you have it like I did tonight, it’s nothing to relish. It leaves me feeling uneasy. Unsettled.
I’ll take the hustle and bustle. The whirlwind of adolescent turmoil and glee. The half-eaten lunches and snippets of teacher gossip and complaints. (Hmm..I could probably do without the latter.)
I guess I learned two lessons tonight: stop procrastinating for goodness sake, but most importantly, accept that the chaos — well, it just feels right.