Chatting to the supply teacher about death

One toilet cubicle. Four male staff members. All as regular as clockwork.

It sounds like a film trailer but it’s actually my life. This is how the toilet gauntlet begins…

8:25 having set everything up for the day I bound down the stairs taking three at a time. This is the five-minute window between now and the hatch doors opening at 8:30. Timing is crucial.

8:26 The Year 6 teacher will be in at half past the hour I can discount him as a potential threat for at least four minutes. Unless he arrives early. I survey the Year 6 area. No sign of him. I now have to shimmy past my manager’s office to avoid being stopped. Just the briefest of chats could let the music teacher in…

8:27 He always stops off to put something in the kitchen at this time. A rookie error. If I can bolt into the trap while he’s in the kitchen I’m on the home stretch. I check the corridor. He’s ahead of me but just as expected is carrying a carton of oxtail soup.

8:28 but that’s when Bonaparte (PE teacher) bounds in. Oh no! It’s going to have to retreat, but wait! Hallelujah! He’s carrying four basketballs, two under each arm! There’s no way he can possibly do that and defecate at the same time (although it’s a party trick some might like to see).

8:29 I slip into the toilet, test the door, its vacant! This is the best part as between now and 8:35 I will hear the door open three times. And every time I will hear a deep, disappointed exhalation as they slope off to briefing. I am not only smug but two pounds lighter.

For every high there is the inevitable low.

There was a general mood of negativity today. The woman, who used to only communicate to me through the medium of her baby, used me this time as a shoulder to cry on. I even had the wet shoulder to prove it. A father berated his son, telling him he would lock him up until he learns how to double and half. There’s a future Marvin Gaye scenario if ever I saw one.

Some of the prevailing despondency was caused by issues so painful I can only mention them in passing. One child was taken away from his parents by social services. Another, this time from my class, told me “daddy beats up mummy”.

This was not a time to use the “ask your mother” line and I’m pleased to say she’s safe. Watching her build a snowman made me feel kneed in the heart nuts though. Especially as earlier that morning I’d nearly kicked the head off a gormless looking snowman while in the midst of my own snow rage.

Despite the heating having broken and the snow outside, our school (a.k.a. The Terminator) remained open. This did enable me to watch a child have their first experience of snow but led to a minor faux pas, duly seized upon.

The devil child remarked that he liked to stick his tongue out and eat snow, another chimed in that he too liked to eat snow. “That’s all well and good” I offered “but never eat yellow snow”. “What’s yellow snow?”…I looked at thirty inquisitive faces. “The snow we have on amber alert” I replied. “What’s amber alert?” The distraction complete I could now switch back to my internal green alert.

‘Groovy group’ may morph into ‘Grumpy group’ if this air of desperation doesn’t lift. I was imagining what a group for people who hate everything would be like.

“Excuse me is this the meeting place for Grumpy group?”

“Yeah f**k off!”

I also chatted to a supply teacher about death. Thankfully I found buried at the bottom of my cupboard a box of chocolates I’d been given at Christmas. For every low there is the inevitable high.

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