Today during my prep I ran down to the office to check my mailbox. I was a bit thirsty, so I decided to swing into the copy room and grab a drink from the water cooler. When I walked into the room I saw our band director sitting, apparently waiting for copies. I don’t know him very well, but said hi. He tried to make random small talk about the day. I made a generic TGIF comment (without using the letters) and he retorted with, “yes, for you I guess that is good. I have a 13 hour day with the kids tomorrow.” I didn’t quite know what to say, so I responded with something like, “oh yeah, I had plenty of those when I used to do drama.” Then I said a quick goodbye and left the room.
When I got into the hall, I started to realize the snottiness in the comment. It’s not the first time he’s made some sort of comment about his “superior dedication” or his “amazing time commitment” to the school. In fact, usually when I bump in to him, he manages to bring up one or the other. The implication is clearly that I am lucky to be just a teacher who puts in her 7 hours a day and gets to go home. The implication is that when I leave the building at 3:15, I spend the rest of my evening (and weekends) lounging around in front of the TV or hopping from one wild bacchanal to the next while he is stuck at a practice, a football game or a contest.
This seriously pisses me off. After I had a moment to ponder his little “poor me” comment, I had a bunch of comebacks for him. I realized, however, that running back into the copy room to shout something at him probably wouldn’t be the mature way to handle my anger (or productive since he’d think I was a freak) and instead fumed silently. Until now.
What I should have retorted back was, “yeah, that sucks, but the thirteen hours you’ll be at school doesn’t compare to the 10 or so hours I’ve already spent this week and the 10 or more I’ll spend this weekend grading.” Or I could have responded with, “wow, that sucks. That’s probably why in addition to your salary you also get stipends for a gazillion extra-curricular bands that almost doubles my pittance.” I could have also pointed out that the private music lessons he gives after school (using school resources) for which he receives an exorbitant hourly rate must be nice considering the rest of us have to help our students improve on our own time for free. I could have reminded him that I’m teaching an extra class and not getting paid one extra cent. I chose to take on the grading hassle of newspaper as a benefit to my students for all their hard work and dedication, even though the school is still only paying me the same tiny stipend they always have. I might have also chimed in that while I don’t spend my 13 hour days on the weekend, I still do have them, at least twice a month during deadline time.
But of course, I didn’t. As usual, I didn’t think of all this until after the fact. Next time though, I’m armed. I don’t care if it does make me stoop to his level. Sometimes I just get sick of being the bigger person.