Friday, March 2, 2012

This is why they can't have nice things!

Greetings. It is by pure happenstance that this message is coming to you via this blog, instead of tonight's 6 o'clock news.

What have I done now, you ask? Well, in a nutshell, over the course of two hours I managed to alienate four high-ranking PTA members (which now I'm REALLY going to be nominated president. Crap!), break two copy machines and piss off the school secretary. I'm pretty sure my son's teacher is regretting her decision to accept my offer for help.

It all started with an email. A friendly note from the teacher with a few updates for the class, a couple of reminders for upcoming events. I like to respond to every email I get (which none of you would know since no one EVER emails me. Slackers). Usually, if no response is necessary, I'll just shoot back with, "Thanks, have a great day!" or maybe "I am sorry. Like I said, it won't happen again. You don't really need to email the entire team."  And so on.

When it comes to teachers, I always like to offer my assistance. Earlier this year I got to help out with my son's Science Olympiad. It was pretty cool watching the kids design things like rockets and water barges and then use them for different experiments (the objects, not the kids).

When the latest email came, I responded with the typical, "Thanks, and be sure to let me know if I can ever help out with anything!"

To which the teacher replied, "I have a mountain of copying to do for the colonial unit if you'd like to dedicate a few hours."

Erm... hours? What are we doing, photocopying an entire library? Sure, whatever. I'm game. Bring it, yo.

Well... I didn't actually write that. I just agreed to come in on Friday.

This morning I ushered the kids off to school, drained my coffee, grabbed my hand sanitizer (because kids are filthy animals) and traipsed off to school for Mission: Papercut. Normally I walk to the school because we live so close, but they chain all the gates together after school starts so I had to drive the long way around. It took me like, 2 minutes longer and I was afraid of being late. One thing to know about me: I detest tardiness. One thing to know about Elle: She lives in Tardiland. (Heh. If you change the spelling, it almost sounds like Elle lives in Tard Land).

I made it with seconds to spare. After signing in and grabbing my visitor badge, I inadvertently went out through the wrong door and had to be let back in--

Hang on. I feel like I'm describing the school like it's on some kind of lock-down 24/7. We are totally not from the 'hood. Our school system is just cautious. And just because you need a microchip badge to get through the doors or your own ladder to climb the fence doesn't mean our kids are in danger. It means that they're safe.

Anyway, let's just cut to me and the teacher standing in front of the Copier 5000. I'm holding about 65 folders in two colors and trying to pay attention while the teacher explains how to operate this beast.

Teacher: Just select F5, press this button here, select ZYR, go back to this screen and select F7, then press 1, then START. Piece of cake, yeah?

Me: [staring dumbly] Uh... how do I select the number of copies?

Teacher: Oh! Silly me. Go back to the first screen and select F9 instead of the second button, go to this screen [as she skims through the screens like a mad woman] and do this, this, here and there.

Me: [eyes glazed over] Ah...

Teacher: Okay, thankyouBYE! [flees room]

I stood there staring at the monstrous machine, willing it to click on and work on its own accord. I reached out, shielding my eyes with one hand, and poked the menu button.


Crap, what was THAT? I frantically started punching buttons, hoping one of them would cancel whatever it was I'd just done.

BEEPBEEPBEEP... beerrrrppp...


Maybe I'll just use this other machine over here. Okay. Where do you put the paper? Oh. Here.

And the machine promptly shredded the form.

Alright. Cool. That was my only copy. Um, I wonder what this does?

Apparently "F1" means take all of the paper from the paper tray and shoot it out the side of the copier. I'd just begun to feel a bit nervous when PTA Lady #1 entered the room.

Whoopsie! Looks like we've got ourselves a bit of a problem here! Let me help you, dear.

#1 reached over, pressed a button and the paper-shooting came to an abrupt stop. I thanked her and smiled with relief. I wondered if this could be like High School where I would smile pretty at her and hope to praise her into doing the work for me. Then I remembered that this was actually a primary school and that back in high school, I was the nerd doing other people's work in hopes that I wouldn't get spaghetti thrown at my back in the cafeteria.

I politely asked #1 to explain the copier to me.

#1: Well, now someone should have shown you! Which teacher just shoved you in here without an explanation? I'll tell the secretary. That won't happen again, I assure you.

Me: Oh, well, it's just that I kind of--

PTA Lady #2 enters the room carrying a metric crap-ton of blue sparklers and favors with It's a BOY! printed all over them.

#2: Oh, GOOD! Two girls to help me. Here. [shovels an armload at me] Take these to room 234. And when you come back, run out to my car and get the rest, would you? [disappears through a door marked PRIVATE.]

*What kind of school has a door marked PRIVATE? What what is in there? I need to know. Is it a room full of donuts? Confiscated toys, like marbles, rubberband shooters and contraband? I'll give five bucks to the person who breaks in and gets me a sample.

I looked at #1 and stammered something about needing to finish the copies before helping with an apparent baby shower. #1 glared at me.

#1: She's been trying for years. It wouldn't hurt you to help out just this once.

Me: I don't even know her!

#1 left the room in a huff. I saw her in the hallway talking with #2 and two other ladies. They all looked my way, shot me some pretty horrific looks and stomped off.

Omigawd, Omigawd, they hate me. I don't even know them. They obviously remember me from the PTA meetings--- GASP.

Suddenly, it was all too clear. Remember back when I attended my first PTA meeting? #2 was the lady I'd asked directions to the meeting. This whole time, she'd been lurking in the back of the meetings, thinking I was a moron. Well. I'm not a moron and I would prove it to her.

I would finish this copying and help with the baby shower crap. And I'd do a better job than all those other PTA harpies.

I opened all of the cabinets to the copier until I found the directions. I followed each and got the machine running. It was actually pretty simple once it got running.

I poked my head around the corner and saw the gaggle of PTA women clustered together at the far end of the hall. Closest to me, there was a table laden with baby shower paraphernalia. The school secretary was arranging bouquets of blue flowers. I sidled up to her and asked if I could help, keeping an eye on the broads.

The secretary eyed me, noticed my visitor badge and relaxed. She handed me a folder and asked me to put it in the teacher's lounge. I offered to take the blue place mats with me as well, and off I went.

I swung back by the copy room to check on my nemesis. The machine seemed to be jammed. I set the folder down and went to work on the mess. About five minutes and some very ink-stained fingers later, I'd got the entire thing un-jammed and ready to go. I looked around for the folder.

That's funny. It was right there a second ago. It's not like--

Oh, no. Um, was it me, or was the copier suddenly sounding a little bit like it was in shred mode?

I yanked up the lip to the machine and watched in horror as the blue folder shot through the compartment, got completely tangled up in the paper feed and shot out in a disgusting mess of ink and rips.

Nnnnnhhhhhh, WHAT AM I GOING TO DO? Wait. Was there even anything in the folder?

I checked.

Oh, good. It's only ultrasound photos of this couple's first child. I'm sure they won't have me shot out in the street for that.

Of course, that was when not just the secretary but the entire horde of PTA ladies decided to enter the room. I stood there helplessly while they just stared at me.

I won't get into specifics, but let's just say that my copy day was over and I'm pretty sure the teacher will hear about it.

On the plus side, I accidentally stole the visitor badge when I ran out a side door so if I ever need to infiltrate that school, I totally can.


landafield said...

Ok, so I've only gotten as far as the school's safe cause were're on lockdown...where do you live again? Cause I teach in an open campus public high school in San Francisco where the kids bus from all over the city upto an hour and a half each way through some actual hoods on public city buses to share their school with 2200 other kids. We are the corner of 2 major streets with tourists driving by, and yes the locals know your a tourist. We have an open campus where anyone can and does walk in from the homeless man who wandred into a class to learn, the skunk who cleared the first floor and Francis ford Coppola who was driving by and wanted to know what the observatory looked like. So excuse me if the idea of lockdown seems foreign and a tad excessive.

donna said...

I can sympathize with copiers. Mine quit working so I walked all the way over to the main office at work and was going to use "BIG MAMA" It looked like mine with an extra add on. I got it humming away, and decided to look for more paper. We store ours under the top of the machine. So I yanked open the door but it was the inner working of the machine and I'll be da#$ed if it didn't jam in 5 different places. It took me 5 minutes to locate and unjam everything.

But also note that Karen's school has security and policemen roaming the halls. Karen once was sent back to her classroom because she was in the halls between classes. hee hee They thought she was a student.

Lisa Field Thunborg said...

UMMMMmmmmm................ I emailed you earlier this week and you NEVER returned my email so I have a hard time believing that you return emails. :)