For many years now it has been suggested to me that I "should take more days off." I am one of those people who has maxed out the number of sick and personal days they can carry on account. I could, potentially, walk out of school one day and not have to look back for several weeks. The theory behind all of this nose-to-the-grindstone foolishness is centered on a somewhat fervent commitment to my employer. I figure if I am being paid by this entity for my services, I should show up and deliver them as agreed.
Exceptions in the past few years have included jury duty and a kidney stone. Aside from that, I have managed to limp into work, or ride my bike in most days, and put in my eight hours. Or ten. Or whatever it happens to take. This kind of tenacious loyalty has been rewarded by a steady move up that salary scale. The same progression available to those who finish the fiscal year with a zero balance in their days off. If there was a cash value for sideways looks earned by telling others what my work attendance has been like over the years, I would currently be retired in style.
Running a bait shop in Key West. This is the alternative at which I tend to arrive when I start to imagine a place to land instead of the front door of my school each morning. I figure that the number of sick days a guy who runs a bait shop would probably be limited, especially in south Florida. And if I did decide not to open up that day, it would be my own business that I would be turning away.
It doesn't work that way with kids. Every day, they're here. Not all of them. Some of them miss a lot more days than I ever will. But when they show up, I want to be there. Because that's my job: being there. Sure, I hope that I can cajole some learning out of them, but when you're seven years old and there's this guy who is there day after day, holding the door open, getting the balls down off the roof, asking the tough questions like, "Did you really kick her on accident?" it starts to feel like a permanent gig.
One that I will continue to show up for until they tell me to stop. Because that's what teachers do.