• Sleep Cinema

Elizabeth: Lemme grab my mask!

I am with a group of students and we are visiting the Empire State Building. One of my favorite students, H.A., has a mask made out of the special material I've been selling online, so I think she must have gotten the mask from me. I feel a little honored that she wanted to wear one of my masks. We are in a vehicle that is an exterior mounted elevator up the side of the building. It pauses at every floor and even on the lower floors, ever time we go up a level, every oohs and aahs about the view and the height.

It's the first day of school. All the teachers and students are nervous and doing their best to keep up with their masks, use hand sanitizer, and stand in various lines for temperature checks. We are called down for lunch and an assembly. I walk out of my room and go downstairs, but I am quickly surrounded by kids in the hallway and realize that I don't have my mask. I run upstairs to my classroom to get it, but I'm worried that I'll get in trouble for leaving the kids for a minute to get something to protect myself. I get my mask and go to the cafeteria.

Because I'm the last one in, the cafeteria ladies have set some trays of food out and are starting to mill around behind the counter to tidy things up before putting the food away. I walk up to my tray of food and I'm pretty disappointed. It's sort of a Mexican theme lunch. There's an egg tortilla that is as thin as a sheet of paper. On top of that is a little bit of runny salsa. To the right is about two tablespoons of shredded iceburg lettuce. Plus, the required chocolate milk. I see that some other people have big scoops of refried beans on their trays. Lunch doesn't look tasty or filling, but those beans look okay, so I take my tray up to the counter to see if I can get the scoop of beans. I think I'll be entitled to it because they are technically part of the lunch, and unless you are getting an extra portion of something, it's all included in the price.

The lunch lady scoops the beans onto my tray. I asked her how much the scoop cost, I hoped she would give it to me for free because it should have been included. She told me I would have to pay $8.40. How ridiculous! She said that because I hadn't paid for my initial lunch, I had to pay for that too. I knew teachers' lunches cost more than students', in fact, at my school the students' lunches are all free for them. But, I thought our lunches were $3.00 or $3.50 max. She said this was the new price for this year, and I had better pay it. I refused! I didn't want the hassle, but that was a ridiculous amount of money, and I hadn't been told it would be so much more expensive than last year.

I took my tray and headed for the superintendent. I dropped it a couple times and had to scrape the food off the ground - that was a big disappointment because it interfered with the original picture of how wretched the lunch was to begin with. Then I got to thinking that he's going to be really stressed already with all of the Covid stuff going on at school and he's not going to be sympathetic to my issue. I must have abandoned my plan, because I never made it to him.

(Analysis: I have been reading a lot lately about school reopening plans and every one in the world's opinion on what teachers should do (and do gladly). I am feeling forced into an unsafe situation without consideration for my or my coworkers' well being. I feel like it's assumed that because we love kids, we'll do any horrible, dangerous thing if anybody thinks it will benefit them in any way. I think this dream reflected the lack of appreciation and consideration I am feeling, and the feeling of being an insignificant cog in a machine run by people who don't care about me.)


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