A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Time is on my side

Last week was parent-teacher conferences. As if that wasn't fun enough, I also had to go in for my semi-annual eye checkup, because I have an eye condition.

The appointment was for 2:30. School lets out at 2:15, so I asked one of my colleagues to watch my class for the last 10 minutes so I could be on time. I had to be back at school at 5:00, freshly pressed, rested, fed, and refreshed.

Got there on time. The waiting room was not that full. I had brought my iPod and a book, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, by James Agee and Walker Evans, which is about sharecroppers during the Great Depression.

After 20 minutes of waiting, I was ushered in to take my field vision test. They tell you that blinking will not affect the test results, but does that still apply when your eyeballs feel like they were dipped in sawdust coated in Tabasco sauce? I'm not sure.

So I clicked the little button every time I saw an micron-sized light, for what seems like forever, but was actually about 5 minutes. Then I'm ushered into an examination room, where the nurse/tech puts more Tabasco sauce in my eyes and then attempts to start sticking devices ON MY EYEBALL!

On an instinctual level, I do not wish to have devices actually placed on my eyeball, and no matter how much I talk to myself, my brainstem, which in this case behaves like a recalcitrant toddler in front of a plate of sashimi ("Don't WANT to!"), takes control of my eyelids and neck muscles and avoids this procedure until finally the tech rolls her eyes, sighs, and grabs my eyelids and pries them apart herself and then holds them that way while she shoves this shiny thing onto my eye. I mean, I feel like that guy in "The Pit and the Pendulum."

After she finishes fueling my nightmares, she leaves. Everything is blurry because my eyes are dilated by the Tabasco sauce. But my iPod battery gives out, and I try meditating but my eyes are streaming orange tears, so I finally give up and hold my book two feet away from me, squint, and start reading. My butt gets numb, the chair in uncomfortable, and I'm reading condescending, flowery prose poetry about a girl who is married to a man who doesn't deserve her.

After I've read 87 pages in this fashion, I get up. It is now 4:15, and still no doctor. I square my shoulders and walk into the hallway, look up and down, no doctor, and I decide that I have commitments elsewhere. I walk up to the appointments secretary, who is chatting with another nurse. No one should read 87 pages of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men at one doctor's visit.

MC: I have to leave now.

AS: Ummm.... what?

MC: I have to leave. Right now.

Nurse Ratchet: (Obviously thinking, "Holy crap! She's still here!") I'm sure the doctor needs to talk to you, though.

MC: And I need to talk to her, else I wouldn't have made this appointment. But I have to be back at work in 30 minutes, driving through rush hour traffic, I need to change clothes, wash my face, put on new makeup, and now you people have made me blind, which should increase the fun factor of accomplishing these tasks exponentially. But I have to leave. Now.

AS: Well, do you want to schedule a new appointment now?

MC: What would be the point of that (thinking to myself, "since this one has obviously turned out so well,")? Look, I'm not angry, although I should be, but I must go. Right now. Not five minutes from now. Now.

Right about this time here comes the doctor with some woman who was not in the waiting room when I came. I can tell she's thinking, "Hey, the cattle have stampeded their pen." She pulls me into a room for fifteen seconds, shows me the printout of my field vision test, says there's an area of concern, but that I "aced" the test (How can these two statements be compatible?) and that we'll just check it again in six months, and then disappears again. I pay (yes, that was stupid, but my default mode is good girl/pleaser) and then I leave. I manage to weave through the hellacious traffic, clean myself up, and speed to school for 3.5 hours of alternating boredom and talking, all the while with eyes like an alien's.

For this I waited nearly two hours? And why is there this assumption that my time is worthless? What is the point of an appointment if I have to wait two hours? Why can't I call them before my appointment, ask how far behind they are running, and show up then? I paid a total of $18 for aftercare for the thrill of NOT being seen by the doctor. Meanwhile, there's an "area of concern," and I start having anxiety attacks about going blind, because I'm too tired to be rational.

Then I realize. Some people get treated like this during parent conferences. They line up like cattle, and get their concerns ignored. I resolve to not be one of those teachers.

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At 10/16/05, 2:33 PM, Blogger Pigs said...

Oh my. I thought parent conferences couldn't get worse.

At 10/18/05, 4:59 PM, Blogger dan said...

Quiet time to read! Cool. I think I need my eyes checked. :)

I also enjoyed _And Their Children After Them_ - Dale Maharidge and Michael Williamson continue Agee and Evan's legacy.

At 10/18/05, 6:30 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Yeah, except for the pain part, and the freaking me out part, I like the general thought of time to read. But the price is too high, my friend.


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