Sunday, January 25, 2015

Home Away From Home

I will be finishing my eighteenth year at the same school this June. The first time I visited the campus, I ran here with my infant son in the jogging stroller just so I could have a sense of how far away it was. By the time I had pushed that stroller, as advanced and aerodynamic as it was, up the hill back to my house, I was exhausted. I have felt that way, off and on, for nearly two decades, but that isn't the only constant. For the past eighteen years, this has been the place I go for the majority of my weekdays. And the occasional weekend. It is a place where I hang my hat.
As such, I have become quite comfortable with the architecture and the layout, to the point where I know where most everything can be found, even if I don't have a key to get to it. Quite often, I get requests like, "Do you know where there is an extra desk?" I understand that I am being asked if I have an awareness of our furniture inventory as well as my willingness to help secure said desk for the classroom in question. This is sometimes a more confounding question that it might seem from the outside, since we have such a very transient student body. Almost every teacher, over the course of the year so far, has lost and then gained a student or two. Just when we thought we were operating at a desk surplus, along comes a new family with three kids filling in for the two kids who just left. That's when we find out that the only spare desk we have is in a first grade classroom and it is far too tiny to keep a growing fourth grade girl comfortable for any period of time. That's when my experience with modular furniture comes in handy.
When that fourth grader needs a taller desk, I raise it. After a month or two, when suddenly the call goes out for more first grade furniture, I might find that recently adjusted fourth grade desk empty, which means I take my screwdriver to those same legs and put them right back where they were before. It's what is known in the furniture business as job security. It reminds me of the way I used to be dispatched with a crew to the IBM plant back in the day when office furniture was my living. We would go into the customer service center and raise a workstation for an employee who had decided they wanted to be able to stand as they took calls. When we were done rolling in the tall stool on which they would perch, we knew that we would be back in a few weeks when the staff was shuffled yet again to move the work station back to standard height. There was wild talk about keeping a couple of us on site a few days a week just to be sure the comfort of the customer service group was insured. That never happened, primarily because I moved out to California and became a married guy with a teaching credential. Happily, all those mad modular furniture skills were never allowed to atrophy. Sometimes I get the urge to switch out the drawers in my desk or move the pencil tray from one side to the other, but it doesn't last long. That's because somebody always needs a new desk.

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