The band room was a freezer.
“Vamos a sentarnos en el pasillo, clase.”
“We’ll sit in the hallway today.”
It was zero degrees outside. The school district wanted a Spanish class but had no classroom for me.
I’d complained a zillion times – when the band teacher held private tuba lessons in his office, just ten feet from my students’ tables, when it was so cold the kids’ fingers got stiff and they couldn’t write, when my toes got so frozen that I had to sit down, take off my leather boots, and rub my feet to warm them up.
I was stuck for a whole year in the cavernous band room with three exterior walls. Think Nebraska in February – brrrrrr!
When the district offered me a contract in March for the next year, I told the principal, “Only if you find me a real classroom.”
A week later he offered me the workroom behind the typing room.
“It’s very small,” he said, “but it’s heated.”
I signed on for one more year.
The next fall, the typing teacher, who had been there 400 years and had NEVER had to share her space, glared at my students as they schlepped their way past the typing stations and into the workroom. I had to raise my voice to be heard over the clack-clack of the typists. When my students answered my daily questions in unison – ten questions at the beginning of each period each afternoon- the typing teacher glared at me through the glass windows between her room and mine.
I didn’t care. I’d fought my way here — babysitting brats, wearing a hairnet at fifteen to work at McDonald’s, checking groceries before scanners were invented, de-tasseling corn, selling books door to door to put myself through college, fighting to study abroad, scraping money together to buy my first car.
Glare all you want, honey.
And now I was making the big bucks to teach Spanish to farm kids.
After a week of typing teacher glare, I needed to go dancing! My roomie and I would drive to Omaha on Friday nights and meet up with Shannon, who knew all the hot spots. It was the disco era, so mirror ball dance floors were everywhere. One night, after a long day of teaching and one too many sloe gin fizzes, I was literally head-down on the table, exhausted from my day. Ours was right off the dance floor, and my friends were up on their feet, shaking their stuff to Boogie Nights by Heatwave. It was going on eleven, and I was ready to go home.
When the tall guy came over, tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to dance, me with my head down, I snapped at him.
“Can’t you see I’m sleeping?” I said.
Worst rejection ever!
Couldda Wouldda Shouldda
If only I would’ve rallied and danced with the tall guy, I would’ve found out that he was also from Iowa and in Omaha working for a fertilizer company. We would’ve dated for two years and then gotten married in Des Moines at the Hilton by the airport, started a family, bought an acreage property outside of town, and raised goats and chickens to entertain our six children, three adopted from Africa. We would now be celebrating our 37th wedding anniversary.