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I have now been at the New Center since July 28th.  I have had some time to adjust to the quirks, the differences, the way of the world, so to speak.  Well, the way of the world is going along swimmingly, the majority of the time.  I do have some complaints, like the one computer with word processing for all teachers and therapy staff to use.  None of the kid computers have MS Word, so the teachers have to write IEPs in the therapy office.  I’m not being territorial; it’s one computer for 14 teachers and 3 therapists.  It seems a little weird. 

It’s very dangerous to begin my next gripe, because, in the scheme of things, it’s not so bad.  Some might argue it’s a blessing, or might tell me just to suck it up and be content with the way things are.  Here’s the situation: at my old center, I arrived promptly at 7:52am, or thereabouts, for the day to start at 8:00am.  The administrative assistant was always there early, and some teachers were, too, having caught an early bus.  Children arrived around 8:30am (even the bus was getting there more or less on time), and therapy could begin. Here, the day begins at 8:30am.  The teachers are straggling in at 8:30am.  The kids are also scheduled to arrive at 8:30am, but the buses don’t often arrive till 9:00am.  So I can’t begin therapy till then.  But I still technically have to be able to see as many kids.  It’s not only my eagerness to do my work.  Oh, no.  It’s my eagerness to be let into the building.  The therapy office (where I stow my gear, stash my lunch, and do my paperwork) is separate from the classrooms, and operates on a different key, different alarm, different everything.  So even if teachers and secretary are there, my building may be still Fort Knox’d up.  As it was this morning.  The social worker arrived at 9:00am, as she is supposed to, and we were waiting in the blazing heat until then.  Of course, the secretary came in late, or not at all.  The program director (the only other person with a key) was nowhere to be found.  At 9:00am, we were let in.  Barely enough time to crank up the A/C, having been sweating our brains out on the hot porch for a half-hour.  Then we went into therapy marathon.  At least I had high absenteeism today, or I never would have seen my kids. 

I’m used to promptness being rewarded.  Mr. Apron has schooled me in this way of thinking, and he’s usually right.  Show up early to a job interview, and they think you’re conscientous and dependable.  Show up early for a doctor’s appointment, and you may get seen early.  Mr. Apron has many times been seen by the doctor and left the building before his actual scheduled time.  Yet in this case, showing up early means either standing on the sweltering porch while the engine from the food truck idles diesel fumes 2 feet away, or burn gasoline sitting in the air-conditioned car for anywhere from 10-40 minutes.  Neither is very appealing.  On a day without children, it’s not so bad, since there’s no rush on therapy, and those days have a more relaxed atmosphere anyway.  But on a day when school is in session, it’s very inconvenient, not to mention unprofessional. 

I’ve been told we’re getting keys.  I’m not sure if we’re getting the magic deadbolt key that opens the shop, or just the bottom lock that opens it during business hours.  And as for alarm codes, a part of me doesn’t want to know those sacred numbers.  Ever.  Because then one can be called upon to open, to close, to take on increased responsibility.  I can do that in therapy.  I’d be happy to take on a student in speech pathology, or to train people in something I’m good at (like creating Excel schedules, or making sock monkeys).  I just don’t want extra accountability with the facility itself. 

It’s a toss-up.  Am I rewarded for my promptness if it means I get a key and a code and can let the whole world into the building, or am I content with the facility’s excuse as to why I didn’t see my first kid until 9:15 am today?  With great power comes great responsibility, and I’m not sure I want that.

All was going well at 8:07 this morning.  Three children had called out sick, and all expected staff had called in for work.  By 8:45, it was apparent we were just keeping up appearances.  One assistant teacher fairly swooned at the front desk as I was describing how to make chocolate ganache (not my fault — I swear), and had gone home for the day by 8:45am.  Another lead teacher had shown up with a back brace on, and wasn’t to do any lifting, bending, etc.   You know, the stuff you do with small children.  And the secretary/adminstrative wonderwoman is out on vacation this week.  All of which leads to minor insanity all day long.  At 2:30pm, it came to a head.  The social worker, who, bless her heart, had been answering phones all day, was in an IEP meeting, as was the program director.  The occupational therapist was out today recovering from her Memorial Day party.  And I was the only one in the office. at 2:30pm, precisely the time school ends and the building is supposed to empty of all small children.  The children are kept safe from their parents via a locked door, which can be opened by buzzer only by someone in the office.  And, for 42 parents (average) to be coming within the alleged space of 7.5 minutes, you’d think they’d coincide their arrivals with each other’s departures, and HOLD THE FUCKING DOOR.  But no.  So the phone rings for them to be let in, and I”m given the task of door buzzer-inner.  Forty-two times.  Sometimes more.  Because they can’t figure out the door.  They often buzz, then stand around lazily, expecting, I don’t know, the door to automatically open?  So the door buzzes, and they reach, alas!  Too late.  Or we have the ones who have one hand on the buzzer, one hand on the door, ready for door buzzer relay racing.  They often pull before I buzz, and by the time they pull again, it’s too late.  Like when you’re at the passenger side of the car, and you lift the handle/push the button at precisely the time the driver unlocks the car, and you automatically cancel each other out.  So you do it again.  And again.  A door handle jinx dance.  Love it. 

As if door duty weren’t bad enough while I’m trying to feverishly scribble out 12 informative and data-rich notes on children (today was a “light” day), I also had to answer the phones  Or pretend to.  I would wait many rings, then, as I saw the social worker darting in to answer the phone, I”d make the effort that said, “Oh, I was just about to get that one!  But you go ahead.”  Because, you see, I hate answering the phone.  With a passion.  Will do anything to avoid it.  Let the voicemail pick up during business hours.  Take walks away from the office so I’m no nearer the phones than anyone else.  Write my notes in the break room.  Play deaf.  Fake laryngitis.  My philosophy is this — I do not have information for people calling.  I do not know about registration, the wait list, scheduling an IEP, when the secretary will be back, how to submit an application, what the air conditioning system has been up to, if the lunches/bus/children/temp staffers came on time.  I have none of this.  Yes, I can take messages, but so can the voicemail.  And the voicemail doesn’t have horrific penmanship which can be traced back to me for verification of spelling, phone numbers, or content.  Voicemail isn’t lost on an orange Post-it on someone’s desk.  And frankly, I don’t want the information, because that means I’ll be held responsible for disseminating it, expected to answer the phone, and culpable if I screwed something up.  I don’t want the responsibility of knowing the alarm code, because that means I’ll get asked to open or close or talk to the alarm people. 

I do, however, have a key.  I’m never the only one in the building, and not even the first to arrive.  So you’d think there’d always be someone to buzz me in.  Techincally, there is.  But, as you remember, I’m too-often the only one in the office buzzing people in.  That would mean someone else had to run to a phone and let me in.  And then I’d have to talk into the buzzer and identify myself.  That’s too much like talking on the phone, which I’ve established is something I’d rather not do.  Let me slip in stealthily. Let me curse the parents who play the buzzer dance.  Just don’t make me answer that phone.