Bill Maher: New Rule: Bluetooth headset users have to do something that lets me know you're just on the phone and not a dangerous schizophrenic. Right? We don't know if you're talking to your secretary or the evil leprechaun who lives in your head. You're not the chief communications officer of the Starship Enterprise. You're a shoe salesman asking your mom if you can bring over your laundry. If I wanted to overhear every tedious scrap of brain static rattling around in your head, I'd read your blog.
—Real Time With Bill Maher (3/17/06)
A few days ago I posted a story about my visit to the City Schools' job fair, which gathered a ton of hits (almost 500 over two days, largely thanks to Sara Neufeld's linking to it from the Baltimore Sun's Inside Ed blog) and even generated a few comments, which are kind of rare in these parts. If you haven't read that post, go ahead. I'll wait here for you.
Ready? OK. You'll recall that I spoke with the representatives from a school who were recruiting to replace a friend of mine. As it happened, I lost my cell phone the day after the fair, because I'm pretty good at that sort of thing. So they finally got through to me on the Tuesday following the fair. They were impressed by our chat and wanted to meet with me. I made arrangements for the following Tuesday, yesterday, in the afternoon.
I wound up having to call the school to push the meeting back a little bit because of an emergency meeting for a student and they were OK with that. After the meeting, I drove down to the school and checked in with the secretary. She led me to a room, where they asked me to sit in the lobby for a minute while they finished whatever they were working on.
A minute later, a man came out and, despite the fact that I'd met him at the fair, introduced himself. Well, what the heck. I shook my hand and introduced myself (again). He said to me "Yeah, we met at the fair." Yes, we did, I confirmed, and we walked back into the room.
There were three people in the room, two of whom I'd met at the fair, and a third man, who was introduced to me. Then one of them started telling me the story of the school, and the IEP Team Associate position in particular and how it fit into the broader story.
One of the things that struck me as odd was the fact that this guy was willing to discuss some of the specifics of my friend's situation, how her position was getting cut back and some of the discussion that had taken place. I always thought that personnel issues were confidential, but what do I know? I'm a teacher-level employee.
The other thing was that, as he told this whole story, he felt free to lace it with what some Star Trek fans might call "colorful metaphors". IEPs from thus-and-such school were "shitty"; this thing was "fucked up" and so on. I'm not a prude by any means, but I don't usually speak this way, and I'm sure you've noticed that I don't usually use such words in this blog. Swearing has a specific purpose for me and I would have to get caught off-guard to use it in a school setting, even if nearly all the students are out of the building for the day. It doesn't feel professional. But, to each his own. This was essentially a second chance for us each to make a good first impression and it wasn't going well, perhaps for both of us.
Then he let the bomb drop, however subtly. He let it be known that he'd read the post and that he recognized himself in it. The conversation turned toward a defense of the school and how they represented themselves and like that, and how they're not liars. I'm not sure if he was expecting me to apologize or what, but finally I said simply that this was my impression of the day, this is what I saw, this is what happened, and who knew that this coincidental thing was going to happen.
Then they asked if I had any questions, and I said not really; I'd learned a lot from the other day's conversation and that I liked the approach that they took toward the educational model. I also noted that there were times when I needed to break schools out of their special education models because they were so entrenched, so I was of a similar mindset to theirs in that respect. They asked about where I was currently working, and I noted that my current school (the one that isn't killing the position entirely) is increasing to a half-time ITA. "Is that going to be you?" they asked. "Yeah, if I want it," I replied. Then they asked what I'd like to do. I told them I'd prefer a full-time position but I recognize the realities of the job and would take two half-times without complaining too loudly. They nodded, shook my hand again and that was that.
So at this point I'm not sure what really happened there. Did they have me come in anyway so that they could tell me that the jig was up? Did they expect an apology from me (in which case, they don't know me very well)? They didn't really offer me the job with them, so far as I could tell, but maybe I didn't read the cues carefully enough. At any rate, this one has taken a bit of a weird turn, so I think I'm going to have to pass.