Monday, September 22, 2008

My Kingdom For A Parking Space

Sometimes it feels as if the forces in the universe are alligning to make this job as difficult as possible, just to see if I have the balls to stick with it. Other times, it feels as if teachers (as people) are the absolute last priority on everyone's list...that we will just suck it up and deal with ridiculous situations "for the kids."

If one more person tells me to do it "for the kids", I might throw a kid at them. Seriously. Stop playing on our good intentions and altruistic dedication to the future and treat us like the professionals you so desperately claim you want us to be. It just seems at times as if this job teeters on the brink of being inhumane.

I thought it was bad enough that I occassionally have to stomp my feet while peeing (to scare the mice away...really). ( I rationalize that it's good for my thighs.)

Then I thought we had hit rock bottom when the administration took no sort of stance after teachers routinely had their personal property stolen out of their locked classrooms.

When I found a dead mouse in the middle of my rug (with several other LIVE mice feasting on the corpse) at 7:30 a.m., I thought, "This is it...this is as low as we can go. What else can be expected of me?"

And then...they took our parking spaces away.

All of a sudden, after many many many years of being issued parking passes, it has been decided that teachers may no longer park near their school building. They must now a) pay an additional astromonical fee to park in a parking garage in a shady shady neighborhood, b) get to school hella early and pray for a space, c) find another way to get to work or d) just give up

But somehow, I am supposed to still make it to work "for the kids." I guess with my love "for the kids", I will be granted the power to make parking spots appear...or maybe if I imagine the kids as I circle the school for 45 minutes each morning I will be less angry? Does that make any sense to you?

WTF? Now you're going to make a CHALLENGE for me to get to this place in which I have to stomp and pee, obsessively check on my wallet and deal with live demonstrations of Darwinism at work? "For the kids"?

But wait, it gets better. There ARE a very limited number of passes being distributed. Our administrators (some of whom live a ten minute walk from school) snatched those up and left the teachers (some of whom live a 45 minute drive away) with nothing.

So, in sum, because some d-bags with a photocopier made a bunch of fake passes, those of us who actually need and legally use our parking passes will be denied. In the middle of the fall. After we have made decisions about our employment based on our proximity to work and subsequent commute.

I ask you, all-important-decision-making-body, do you want me to just tap a vein? Then you can suck the life out of me directly instead of chipping away slowly at my sanity.


Anonymous said...

I arrive at my school at 6:35 am in order to secure a parking space. On bad parking days I can't find one until after 7:00 am, and I routinely park so far away that I consider myself lucky to FIND my school from my parking spot.

Best of all, we're not allowed in the building until 7:00 am on the dot. So even if I'm lucky enough to be parked by 6:40 or so, I can't go inside and start working for the kids (which, after all, is what I'm there to do...). Every morning there is a group of us huddled outside the front door of our school, forlornly watching the principal, assistant principals, janitors, secretaries, and garbage delivery guys going in, while we wait outside in the cold. The other day we asked if we could at least wait in the lobby, since it's getting a little chilly out, and the answer was of course no.

It's going to be a long winter of sitting in my car for 20 minutes...!

Jpm said...

I don't understand your school sometimes.

Anonymous said...

That is just awful and sounds so unsafe. The schools around here all have plenty of close parking. I can't even imagine having to search for a parking space or park a long way from the school. That's just wrong.

Anonymous said...

You need to get your union involved.

Ms. M said...

How funny--just before reading your post I read a post at Ms. M's Apples about killing pests while peeing in the school restroom.

Anonymous said...

That just sucks for you.

Nicole Marie said...

I just have to ask... as a future teacher... is it really this bad?

MsMalarkey said...


You are right. We're just supposed to give and give.

Our district rep came in last week and said the mayor is angry over losing congestion pricing, and is thus acting like a "brat". Her word, but it's fitting.

Mimi said...

Nicole Marie,
Yes, it is this bad. But remember, it's this bad with SOME of the ADULTS I work with. The other adults are also fabulous...unfortunately I don't talk about them as much here because this is more of a space to vent...and I don't need to vent about them.

The KIDS are great - yes, they can be difficult, but they're kids and that's why I took this job in the first place.

So, don't be discouraged...teaching is wonderful! But don't go in with your eyes closed can be a whole lotta drama!

Anonymous said...

WOW! I just don't get your school. That is rotten. And it stinks. I have a key and a pass code to get into my school any time I need to. I do have to remember to turn off the alarm. I have never tried it.
At our school, they wanted us to park in back so the parents could have the front when they came in. I did last year and this year, I just park in front where it is closer to the front door. If anyone asks me, I tell them age has it's priviledges. I am not walking around the building over the rocks for them this year. But your school is worse. Go to the union. Linda

Mrs. Falkenberg said...

Holy Crap. I don't know where you are, but I'm never moving there. I am welcome, encouraged, even, to go into my school whenever I like. I have keys to all but the front office. I have an alarm code that gives me access to most of the building, day or night. And parking? It's a bad day for me if I have to park more than 20 feet from my favourite door!!

The Teacher said...

I feel for you Mimi. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow. I get to park in a parking lot right next to my school. I didn't realize that was something to be thankful for.

Anonymous said...

oh for the love of all that is holy...
i feel blessed for the crip-crap i have to put up with now...i was just feeling totally under-appreciated today and now...i have no words. my righteous indignation goes out to you my friend. keeping fighting the good fight...i sing to dream the impossible dream to myself at school sometimes...

ed notes online said...

Great post.

At our school in Williamsburg we had parking but there was a garage across the street. I refused to use it. A few stolen batteries and a few broken windows were still cheaper. Then came the day I lost a battery, side window, alternator, distributor cap and wires, my radio and lovingly installed speaker. I found out about it a few minutes after it happened and insanely went racing through the projects looking for the thieves. I ran into one of my former drug addict students who promised me if he saw anything he would get the stuff back for me. That was so funny that it calmed me down. I walked into the garage and signed up.


ChiTown Girl said...

Wow, I'm more blown away by some of the comments about having keys and access codes to schools. Seriously?! I can completely relate because my school is like yours. I just last week posted about my windshield being broken by some of our little darlings who decided to throw rocks in the teacher parking lot instead of getting their butts inside to class! One difference, though, is that I would never be waiting outside watching the administration walking around, cuz our principal usually gets here after me, and the rest of the staff. Hang in there, Girlfriend!

Anonymous said...

You're based in NYC right? With the UFT as your union? Heads up: the parking space agreement is between the UFT and the DOE, not the CSA. Which means, quite plainly, that your administrators are not the ones with whom the agreement has been made and thus are NOT actually alloted a parking pass in the number that have been given to your school. You, and your Chapter Leader need to make a HUGE stink about the fact that they took passes off the top.

-Fellow UFTer and a Chapter Leader

Anonymous said...

On the plus side, the kids won't be able to find your car to slash your tires. Just saying.

Julius Deane said...

I agree with the people who are surprised. I realized we had it fairly good in our smalltown school, but things like this reminds me how much worse it could be. Of course, that's a horrible way to think about things.

17 (really 15) more years said...

To superdeens: our Union was the one who agreed to this shit.

Mimi: "If one more person tells me to do it "for the kids", I might throw a kid at them. Seriously. Stop playing on our good intentions and altruistic dedication to the future and treat us like the professionals you so desperately claim you want us to be."

A truer word was never spoken. I am so damn sick and tired of having the fact that we care about the kids thrown up in our faces. It's exactly why we come in 2 days now in August (because everybody had to go in early to get the rooms ready "for the kids").

Great post Mimi (besides, you finally confirmed that you worked for the NYC DOE, and I've been dying to know, lol).

Rebecca said...

I am angry on your behalf. I have been in that situation before and it is horrible. I was at one school where there was only 1 hour parking spots on the street and I was actually told by a principal to move my car every hour to avoid getting a ticket. Excuse me, Emotionally Disturbed child throwing chairs, I will be right back.

So sorry.

Mimi said...

Thanks for the props 17....but I'll never confirm where I teach....


Green Fundraising Ideas said...

For those of us from the outside looking in to the classroom. Kudos - you guys really are brave and resilient.

And greatly appreciate although told too little.

LauraAnn said...

You'll be able to appreciate this story: I teach in an upwardly affluent high-school where prime student parking spaces are routinely auctioned for 3 - 5 thousand dollars. As for the teachers, we are left to schlep in from the hinterlands of our campus. Seriously, we come dragging in, laden like pack mules, and the kids drive up in cars that cost more than I make per year and park within 50 feet of the main entrance.

I should admit, I did get a choice of a parking space this year, but only because my table won a competition at one of our early staff-development meetings. Niiiice!

As for your own situation, just remember that "doing XXX for the kids" doesn't mean accepting less for yourself. I don't think anyone in my building would consider me a complainer, and from the way you describe yourself, they wouldn't think of you that way either. It is when people who normally act in a conscientious and pragmatic fashion begin to "voice their concerns" that change usually begins to take place. I've never been one to cry "Union!" at the first sign of injustice, but it sounds like you do have reasonable cause to seek outside intervention.

I hope you'll post a follow up to this drama (oh, I forgot you don't like that word) ...situation!

Anonymous said...

INSANE!!!! I love your post because you could substitute just about any one of the other crazy initiatives they come up with and expect us to implement without adequate time, resources, or preparation for parking. Everything you wrote relates.

I especially love your idea about just skipping the BS and tapping a vein! I have been feeling the same way in my district this year regarding a new curriculum initiative. They are asking the impossible and assume we will just "make it work" because we don't want to see "the kids" fail. Sometimes there's only so much you can do! Or take!!!

As for the parking, you seriously need to gather the troops on this one. In our district, we have parking right in front of our building. However, more than one parent has complained that teachers should park off campus so that there is room for parents to park when they come to visit the school. Yeah, okay. I'll park off campus every day so that on the one or two days a year you manage to remember where your child goes to school, you can have a space to park.

Wow, I sound bitter! But to tell you the truth, this year, I AM! (But I still love teaching my kids and simply enjoy being with them every day. I want them to do well and will do what I need to for that to happen. And those f@*#$ing admins know it! That's how they get us to go along with whatever they throw at us!)

Hugh O'Donnell said...

Resolve at the lowest possible level, but go up the ladder quickly...

1. Get some staff support.
2. See the principal (with at least one co-worker).
3. See the ass't supe in charge of parking (with at least one co-worker.
4. See the supe (with at least one co-worker).
5. Pack a board of ed meeting with your whole staff.]

Tell the story at every level. Involve your union.

Don't tap a vein. Kick some serious butt!

Hugh O'Donnell said...

On the other hand, if you did solve the problem, all the other challenges would fall, and we'd have no angst to identify with.

I'm torn between wishing you success in dealing with the hassles, and just hoping you'll muddle through and have lots of very funny posts in the future!

I hope you're writing that book, cuz it will be a best-seller, even better than Frank Chalk's stuff!

17 (really 15) more years said...

PLEASE don't get me wrong Mimi- I would never expect you to divulge your school (nobody is more neurotic about keeping her school a secret than I am)- I was just wondering in general if there were 2 such dysfunctional systems in the tri-state area.

Mary Louise Brooks said...

Miss Mimi, I kid you not when I tell you our new CEO had biz cards made for us with her core beliefs. #1? Children come first. If I can't teach because the district didn't order the right supplies, it's just showing the teachers, the students, and the parents where we rank. Our building has NO lot so it's every teacher for themself. We are not allowed in the building until 7:30am, even though our contract says 7am. Ask the union for help? We're told repeatedly "just because it's in the contract doesn't mean a thing." It's the principal who sets the tone. For the past four years our contract has been broken so many times, I wouldn't even use the paper to wipe my a**. More and more, I find myself dreaming of teaching in another country where teachers are respected and admired. Sad.

Dree said...

I don't even know what to say. I feel so much better about where I work now. I gotta say, though... I couldn't have said it better myself about doing it "for the kids." Teachers = doormats. We all know it... and for some reason, we keep going to work.

A Special Kind Of Teacher..... said...

What a great post....should you slit your wrists....hmmmm not yet, the school year is just getting started. I'm sure there's more that the administrators can do come spring time. Besides why would you want to work some place else.....oh yeah, the money, the respect from others around you, and the money. Hmmmm well then "just do it for the kids". lol.

Anonymous said...

"Sometimes it feels as if the forces in the universe are alligning to make this job as difficult as possible,"

It feels like that because the universe is aligned against you because it is. I remember the Monday morning we came to back to find that one wing of the school had flooded... in the middle of a drought.

Em said...

I will no longer complain about not being given a key to my school. At least I get to park right up front, even if said huddling around the door in the morning (so nicely illustrated by miss brave) is more than annoying.

askthehomediva said...

I can't even image… Now when I think it sucks to be me, I'll remember your post… Hang in there.

Mary Louise Brooks said...

I had to write back after your comment. There's a song in the GREAT Broadway show "Avenue Q" called "It sucks to me." The chorus goes something like this ... sucka, sucka, sucka, sucka, sucka, it's sucks to be me. I hum it to myself occasionally. Another reason why this is a great show? The first song asks the question, "What do you do with a B.A. in English?" Teach! Gotta love it!

Anonymous said...

You must be in a city, where parking is at a premium. This us why I live and teach in the country.
I'm not trying to guess, but I would say that you teach in a place that has some other pay-off to you, in order to make such an uncomfortable job worth it!

My school is big and bad, but there's lots of parking. However, we got other unpleasant surprises after school started...after miserable days like today I read blogs like yours and dream of quitting.

Linda Fox said...

My complaint is that, after 5 weeks of school, when I have to use the restroom, I have to track down one of the favored people who has been given a key to it.

Oooh, and I forgot, they just changed the schedule, and I lost 5 minutes of lunch - no compensation. Just suck it up, and eat faster. And, on those once a month weeks when I have lunch duty, eat REALLY fast. 'Cuz the cafeteria is a 3 minute walk from my room (even longer for some teachers), and that cuts 6 more minutes off the 22 (YES, I wrote 22!) minutes we're alloted.

During which time we have to use the facilities, check our mailbox, grab out lunch, eat, run back to the classroom (can't let the darlings mill about, if they cause trouble, it's my fault), and begin teaching again.

And try not to slip on the puddle of water that's currently sitting on my floor every time it rains - like yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I think you all are insane for even thinking of continuing to work in such environments.

There are easier ways to pay the bills until you find another school. If you really can't find a school that's better, then you should leave the industry. Not until you do will things get better.

Kathleen said...

Working conditions in so many schools border on the absurd!

I have run into the same parking problem.

One time my car was broken into on the streets. The window was smashed for no reason.

Another year my car was ILLEGALLY towed by the crooked village in which I worked. No ticket, just $250 ransom.

If you were given a ticket you had a right to a hearing before a judge. The town wanted the revenue as the mayor owned the towing lot.

Were I an administrator and disinterested in teaching, none of that would have happened! I'd have my own parking space.

You'd think they would PLAN to include FREE parking spaces for the employees like they do at most REAL jobs.

Underlying it all is CONTEMPT for teachers. I have even heard secretaries say "I don't take messages for TEACHERS!" as if it were a dirty word.

Or when you are addressed over the PA as "Teacher"!

As I tell the kids, much to their giggles, "My Mom didn't name me t-shirt!"

Many schools are not even air conditioned. I just love it when they have the window units cooling the offices and the rest of the school is wilting from the heat. And they wonder why Johnny can't read? LOL! He's busy melting!

I taught in a delapidated trailer (mobile) for years. The place was falling apart. You could pick the lock with a can opener and break-ins were a monthly occurrence.

It use to rain on Jorge's head as the ceiling was leaking. There was not enough money in the budget to repair the roof.

When it rained we had to move FORTY desks to the one side of the room. There was no space in there to begin with!

One January, I was teaching (in Chicago!) and there were sub-zero temperatures. Some repairman just started taking the windows off! I mean, no warning.

A loose hammer could have resulted in serious injury to one of the kids. Not too mention the sudden disruption of an Arctic blast of wind!

We lacked books, we lacked supplies, we lacked materials, we lacked desks.

I would tell the horror stories to anyone who would listen.

And there was no American flag!

I use to tell the kids "Let's imagine there is a flag in the corner as we recite the pledge!" I was NOT about to go out and buy one!

Finally some resourceful kid brought in a mini-flag.

People were appalled "NO American Flag??? How can that be? A classroom in the United Staes with no US flag?"

Didn't you hear anything else I said?

Nope. The thing that impressed them was the lack of the flag!!!


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Ginger Snaps said...

I feel fortunate that my school has a parking lot for teachers and staff alike without having to fuss and fight over a freakin' pass.

I have much sympathy for you!

Also, Miss Brave...that is CRAZY that you can't even go in your school until 7, but have to arrive early and wait outside!

WTF is the world coming to!?

Kilian said...

If one more person tells me to do it "for the kids", I might throw a kid at them. ...

Who's Peeking?