Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Customer Service

The space was obviously brand new when I walked in this afternoon. Boxes were plied in the corner, everything was shiny and new-- except for that are still outlined in blue painter's tape. The system seemed very new as well; when the automatic doors swooshed open, I was unsure where to turn.

After a lap of the store and several failed attempts to make eye-contact with blue-shirted folks at hi-tech stations, I joined the line at the counter to the right of the door. People who were clearly accustomed to the former system seemed confused-- hoping to simply drop off this cable box or that modem, they were told to hang tight while their name was entered in the customer service queue.

The young man ahead of me was quite vocal in his dismay. "And exactly how many people do you have serving us?" he demanded of the woman at the desk who ignored his question.

"What is your first name, sir?" she inquired politely.

"William!" he answered, and sweeping his arm in exasperation across the chaos of the room, added, "I'll be outside smoking!"

At about that time, the store manager relieved her of first contact duty. He expediently checked the two people ahead of me, Lauren and Richard, and me in. After that I wandered the space some more wondering if they were going for an Apple Store vibe or something else. Either way, they had a long way to go. A dozen or so people were gathered on hip couches in front of a huge screen TV showing college baseball. All of us were intently listening for our names to be called from some station scattered throughout the room.

"Courtney?" called an agent. A relieved customer practically skipped over.

"Courtney?" called someone else from across the room.

"They just called her!" groaned a young mother from the TV.

"Sorry! Mario?"

And so it went, until someone called William. There was no answer. I scanned the room. He was in the back, ear buds firmly planted. I made eye-contact with the agent. "I think that's him in the red shirt," I told her.

"William!" she shouted in his direction.

He pulled out one bud. "Did someone say 'William'?" he asked.

I nodded at her. "Thanks!" she told me.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Good Idea!

Last year we celebrated the end of the school year with a lobster roll and a movie. This year, I was hoping to make that meal a tradition, and so around 1:30 last Friday afternoon when our rooms were packed and our paper work complete, Heidi and I rushed home to fetch Lucy and Cousin Elaine for an al fresco lunch. Arriving at the restaurant, we were disappointed to find that they had closed their outside dining because a storm threatened. Right across the way, another place was not as cautious, and so we had a perfectly pleasant lunch on their patio, although lobster was not on the menu.

Today, my hankering for that dang sandwich was still pretty strong and so the four of us tried again, and this time we were rewarded with a perfect summer day and the meal I was hoping for. On the way out, we ran into another teacher from our school. "You know what?" she told us, "I just went to the gym and thought Today is the first real day of summer-- I should treat myself to lunch!"

I looked at the lobster roll on her plate. "How is it?" I asked.

"Great!" she answered. "I think I might make it a tradition!"

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Plymouth Rock

The reaction was not as I expected.

"Guys!" I called to Heidi and Cousin Elaine this afternoon from the computer. "You'll never guess what!" I had been poking around on my favorite genealogy website, tracing back the line of our Western Massachusetts ancestors.

They looked at me impassively from the living room. "Not only did our family come over on the Mayflower, but we are directly descended from William Bradford!"

With a polite nod, they tried to get back to what they were doing.

"William! Bradford!" I repeated. "You know, the head pilgrim!"

(Perhaps that was a bit of hyperbole, but he was 2nd, 5th, 7th, 9th & 12th Governor of Plymouth Colony, AND the author of Of Plymouth Plantation.)

"Mm hmm," they said.

Saturday, June 24, 2017


We are a three dog family for 24 hours this weekend. Lucy's cousins, 12-year-old Sonic and 5 month old Rosie are staying with us. I've written before about how Rosie and Lucy wrestle each other silly whenever they get together, and Uncle Sonic plays referee. I may have also mentioned how dog-crazy Lucy is. Now that is a cyclonic combination! So much so, that when Sonic and Rosie are visibly lagging and ready for a break, our girl is still rarin' to go.

I think we'll all sleep well tonight.

Friday, June 23, 2017


Yesterday I wrote of how I gave my students the charge to write the nicest thing they could about each of their classmates to end the year on a note of kindness and gratitude. Well, I, too passed my notebook around, and I was extremely moved by the praise of my students.

At the risk of sounding self-serving, I will share two comments:

The best teachers tell you where to look but not what to see. You are one of the best teachers on the face of the Earth.

I never liked to write, but you changed that. Thanks for teaching me.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Last Lesson

To end the year I shared the story of another teacher and another class with my students. The tale of Mark Eklund and his teacher Sister Helen is oft-told: how she had him in both 3rd and 7th grade, how despite his squirmy talkativity he never failed to thank her for teaching him, and how on one tough Friday afternoon she had her students take a moment and list the nicest thing they could think of for each kid in the class, and how when Mark was killed in Vietnam he was carrying his list, and how all the other former students who attended his funeral had their lists also.

After hearing the story, we passed our writing notebooks around the circle and everyone wrote the nicest thing they could think of about each of us in our book. At the end of class everyone was excited to read the messages, but I asked for their attention one last time.

"Today is our last day together," I told my students, "and I will miss you. But you are all going forward together," I paused and gave them my best teacher look. "Try not to forget to be kind to each other."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

We're Still Learning!

But online quiz sites are definitely some of my best friends this week! Thank you Kahoot!