There's a beige sedan in the teacher parking lot which bears the following bumper sticker: Drill Offshore Now: Vote McCain. In addition to the humdrum of actually doing what I'm paid to do, I have, since the beginning of the year, been staking out this car to try and figure out to whom it belongs. Every day, as I arrive and as I leave, I watch to see which teachers fold themselves into which middle-aged and elderly vehicles. Then, as the teachers pull away in their Neons and Odysseys and Civics (other notable bumper stickers: Coexist, Go Green, Obama, Kids First, and that one about bake sales and the military), I cross them off my list, steadily whittling away at my list of potential snakes in the grass.
For the last few months, I've mentally assigned the sedan to one of the teachers I like least, a teacher who brags about her rich father and constantly yells at her kids. I was positive the car belonged to her -well, either her or the woman with the bleached blond hair. It was only a matter of time before I'd catch her in the act of driving it. Then I'd be free to dislike her without even a trace of guilt: not only was she mean, she was a Republican!
Finally, this Monday, my prime suspect left. On maternity leave. And Lo, on Tuesday morning, I spotted the beige sedan hulking in the parking lot, its very lineaments radiating conspicuous conservatism. Something shifted uneasily in my gut.
I forgot, of course. I bumbled through my first post-DST work day, herding children and blowing bubbles and practically shouting Osanna when a colleague stuck in her head in my office door to say she was making coffee. 4:00 rolled around. I packed up and left.
And there, climbing into her car, was the owner of the beige sedan. It was one of my favorite teachers, a pretty, young, enthusiastic woman who has a positive word for every child and every adult, who earned her degree with the specific intention of teaching poor urban kids, who gets to school at 5:00 AM sometimes to set up stations for her kindergartners.
Spending all these hours in school like I do, I should have remembered learning hurts.