I approached my mailbox cautiously.  Inside was a folded piece of paper with the words, “Please see me” followed by some note about a specific child.  It wasn’t the prospect of a note for me, or more work, or some new bogus policy about skirt-wearing.  It was the “see me” that struck terror into my heart. 

What is it about “see me” that conjures up horrible scenarios of failing grades, uncovered skeletons, and flagrantly flouted policies?  Even if I know I haven’t done anything wrong a “see me” will set my heart racing.

In school, a “see me at the end of class” from a teacher no doubt meant a failed test, make-up work, an incomplete project, a missed deadline, and other untoward horrors for those of us just trying to do the right thing.  The worst part is the dread.  Having to sit through the entire class period waiting for the end and the uncertainty of the little conference afterwards is the real killer.  Just try to concentrate on an hour-long lecture with a “see me” hanging over your head like the Sword of Damocles. 

Worse yet is at work when a supervisor will catch me in the hall or the parking lot and quip, “When you get a chance, I’d like to see you in my office.”  When I get a chance? Oh, I’ll be entirely too busy for the next 6 weeks, thank you very much.  Sorry.  Usually it turns out to be nothing, or nothing major.  Even if she ominously closes the door behind you.  Once it was to show me a new outfit she had found at the thrift store across the street.  Once it was to ask me if I was okay, I’d been looking so down lately.  And this week, it was to give me $30 in petty cash I’d submitted in August 2009 and had written off as a lost cause.  But oh, the dread! 

You just know you’re in trouble, and your doom faces you after class, or behind closed doors, face-to-face.  I call for a new phraseology to take some of the sting away from private meetings and special tête-à-têtes.  How about “Let’s discuss…” or “I have great news…” or “I want to give you ice cream”?  Any of those are either good, or promising, or at least let you feel partially in control in exactly the way “see me” does not.