Notes of a Substitute Teacher
THE pickings in my more wonted fields (the arts) had gotten slimmer and slimmer. One day when they seemed to have reached a final hard zero I came to a decision: I would offer myself as a substitute high-school teacher. Why not? I had traveled so epically far from the launching areas of life that I thought it might be a rewarding experience to return to them, not as a tourist or sightseer but as participant. Then, too, I thought it might be fruitful to engage the young for a change. It might be nice to roll back time and taste life in a stage in which it was more palpably in the making, more malleable. And, by no means incidental, it would be a way of earning a day’s pay a little less onerous than any other available at the time. So I dusted off my modest credentials and offered myself. I was accepted. It happened so quickly and painlessly that I was left a little suspicious. Whenever institutionalized life bestows favor or membership on those seeking to join it that easily, I always feel-look out! I expect and dread questionnaires, forms, affidavits, references, interviews, and so I was a touch uneasy as I gazed on the Substitute’s Certificate duly bearing the county seal, the Commissioner’s signature, and proclaiming me qualified to substitute in all subjects, all grades. I wondered if this might not be a gift horse whose mouth I might regret not having examined a bit more closely.
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