Friday, August 29, 2008


Teaching is not a second career for me; it's a fourteenth career. Years ago, before I became a school teacher, one of my jobs was as an inside salesman for a wholesale millwork company.

The boss, Stan, was a great guy, and you could clown around with Stan. For example, Stan interviewed a very young man, almost a kid, and before his interview, I casually told him that Stan was a great fellow and had a good sense of humor. Stan hired the young man, and on his first day on the job, Stan told him his initial task would be to enter inventory information into the computer. The kid said, "No problem. I think I can do that," and he sat down at the computer and started staring at the keyboard.

Stan turned and headed to his office. Just as he got to his door, the kid yells out, "Wait a minute! We have a problem!"

Stan turns around and says, "What's the matter?"

The kid yells, "This computer doesn't have an I!"

Stan just shook his head, said, "I hope you're joking," turned around and walked off.

I was talking about calling in sick, or at least the title of this blog suggests I was planning on it. Because of Stan's ability to take a joke, one morning I called the office and asked to speak to Stan. Stan picks up his phone and says, "Yeah."

In my very best frequently practiced, sickly and hoarse voice, I whispered, "Stan? (short pause) Stan, is that you?"

Without hesitation Stan barks, "Get into the office right now and quit foolin' around."

(voice back to normal) "Yes sir," I replied.

So as you can see, I am sensitive to the needs of a boss and a company to have employees on the job, ready to go, never ruining efficiency by needlessly using sick leave time. A good employee will save their sick leave for a real emergency, like maybe when they get to be sixty.

Our school system, Albuquerque Public Schools (APS), is a behemoth bureaucracy and sometimes, I am sure, the teachers take advantage of the generous sick leave package we have in place for medical emergencies. In fact, the local scandal rag, the Albuquerque Journal, did a story on the nefarious teachers who were calling in sick on Mondays and Fridays in excessive amounts.

I can tell you what's a possibility. If you are a school teacher, it is impossible to get a dental or a doctor's appointmemt in this town on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. I am about to have two medical "procedures" "performed" on me, and I told the receptionist, "I'm a school teacher. You've seen the articles on the front page of the newpaper complaining about and badgering teachers for their Monday and Friday sick days. The whole community is up in arms over the lazy, no-account, ne'er do well teachers who supposedly extend their weekends. Is there any possibility I can get an appointment in the middle of the week?"

"Let's take a look. Let's see here. OK. It's coming up on the computer. Here we go. Yes! How about Tuesday, June 24?"

"June!? That's ten months from now. No, I need something sooner."

"Well I'm sorry but if you want something sooner, the only thing I have is a Friday."

So here I am, blogging away instead of teaching because I have to go see the doctor later today (Friday). I think I'll send this blog to the local newspaper so they can see the real issue is not teachers deceptively extending their weekend. Why do teachers call in sick on Monday and Friday? That's the only time they can get an appointment.

However, the newspaper could claim a different theory why doctors are not available on Mondays and Fridays. All the teachers are out in public, goofing around, generating traffic, and clogging up the golf courses. Doctors like to play golf, right? Because of the teachers, the only availability of a slot on the golf course for a doctor is mid week. So lots of people have to take a Friday appointment time.

Medical procedures! I'd rather just call in and pretend to be sick, and maybe go to the dollar movie theater.

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