Saturday, January 21, 2023

More work drama

Yesterday the school secretary/office manager was out sick. Again. Calling off work is a weekly occurrence for her, but unfortunately this time the bookkeeper and receptionist had also requested the day off, too, leaving the front office and lobby very understaffed.

The Student Data Manager graciously offered to sit in the lobby all day to fill in for the receptionist, and I (less graciously, though only on the inside) offered to fill in for the secretary and run the front office. The principal thanked me several times, so that was nice. 

And it was a day from hell, let me tell you. It started off with a teacher getting fired (and the police called!) over an unfortunate situation in the gym. This gentle giant of a teacher (almost seven feet tall, and big) was playfully roughhousing with some older boys.  One of the boys (still playing around) removed his belt and swung it at the teacher. In response, the teacher pulled the boy into a playful headlock, which was fine, but when he let him go, the kid stumbled, fell down the bleachers, and got a gash over his left eye. The parents were furious and are planning on pressing charges. The teacher was sitting in the office most of the morning, tears running down his face, while periodically having to go give statements to the police and our district HR person. I felt so sorry for him. The boy wasn't badly hurt, and no one meant for that to happen, but to be fair the teacher had no business playing like that with students. Anyway, he didn't get arrested, thank goodness, but he did get fired on the spot. 

The rest of the day was also chaos. Two big fights broke out and four more students will be getting expelled, making a total of 10 expulsion hearings I've had to schedule in just the last two weeks. Then at the very end of the day a kid waiting in the car line threw a cell phone at another boy's face. The boy that got hit in the face came running through the halls, sobbing, with blood streaming from his nose and mouth. What a way to cap off a Friday, huh?

I often say that there's never, ever a dull moment working in a middle school, but yesterday was a kind of extreme example. I jokingly said to the principal at some point that I had forgotten "how exciting" the front office can be! She responded that she was so grateful that I was the one up there taking care of everything, and how it made things easier for her. The secretary I was filling in for, while a nice woman, is young and immature for her age, has never had a job remotely like working in a school, and, if I'm being honest, has made very little effort to learn how to do anything. When faced with something she doesn't know how to do, she'll whine and complain and find someone else to help her do it, without bothering to pay attention so she'll know what to do next time. She was a poor choice for the position, and I'd be lying if I said I don't get a small bit of enjoyment watching the principal having to suck it up and deal with her after passing me over for the position last summer!

One of the last things the principal asked me to do yesterday was to draft a letter to parents of car riders who are chronically very late picking their children up, explaining the consequences of repeated late pick-ups. She was rushing to her office to take a phone call, and said, "Ms. Barlow, please compose a letter for me about this issue, bring me a copy to sign, and then make a few dozen copies on school letterhead." I said, sure, no problem, and had it done in less than 10 minutes. When she saw the finished product, she said, "This is fabulous. Thank you so much!" and since it was getting towards the end of the day I started to walk to my office to gather my things and go. She called for me as I was walking away and said, "Ms. Barlow, will you step in my office for a minute, please?" I had a funny feeling of what was coming. She shut the door behind us.

"Ms. Barlow, today has been wonderful having you in the front office. You made a hard day easy for me and handled everything with grace and professionalism. Even that letter I had you draft for me; if I'd asked Shelly (the secretary) to do that, she would have spent the next hour asking me so many questions about what to do that I'd have been better off doing it myself. It's just not working out with her. Would you consider taking her job next year?"

I wasn't sure how to respond. I asked, "What about the job I'm doing now? Attendance and keeping school records is a huge job, with lots of work and a lot to learn. I'm still learning, in fact. Who would do that?" and she sighed, and said we'd probably have to hire from outside to replace me, and that I do a great job in my current position, and "God, I really need two of you to do BOTH jobs haha..."  She said that it would make her life so much easier to have a capable office manager that she really hoped I'd consider it and they'd find someone else to fill my job if I agreed. I told her I'd need to think it over, and she said, "Go home and talk it over with your husband this weekend, and we'll talk again on Monday." 

Can you believe this crazy woman?! 

First, she asks me if I'm interested in the job (back over the summer) and then when I schedule a time to go talk to her about it, she hires someone else the day before our interview. Now she sees that it was a bad hire and wants me to consider the job again now that she sees that I'm capable and a hard worker (and the person she hired is a dud!). If she wasn't my boss, I'd give her a piece of my mind. Honestly, I feel like she owes me an apology for last summer though of course I'd never tell her that.

Anyway. 

What I plan to do is just wait and see how things pan out. This woman is impulsive and there's a not-zero chance that when Monday rolls around she won't mention any of this again. I've learned that it's wisest to just take anything she says with a grain of salt and politely ignore the weirdness and drama. Of course, I want to make more money (and it would be a lot more) but the plan has been to find a place to do that in another school. I'm thinking that if I bide my time and think over any options carefully, everything should come right in the end. I hope so. 

47 comments:

  1. Do not feel sorry for that teacher. He had a student in a headlock? Dear Lord.

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  2. I worked on a 12-bed acute psychiatric unit, and it sounded safer than that school! Yikes! But....the adolescent psych unit was a nightmare. Nurses were constantly getting (badly) injured. They called codes several times a shift. I absolutely refused to be floated to that unit. I'd go home first. I feel for teachers these days. It's a rough and dangerous job. I admire you for even working in a school system. I imagine there's lots of turnover. I know where I live the teachers have recently threatened to strike due to very unsafe working conditions. That was an unfortunate incident with the gym teacher. He should have not put a kid in a headlock....but...a kid swinging a belt at you!! Think long and hard about that job offer. It sounds dicey, but it could be to your benefit....maybe. Good luck and keep us posted.
    Paranormal John

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  3. Biding your time probably is the best choice. Your current job, in another school, is the best revenge.

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  4. Not sure what you should do but all schools have drama and work situations like yours. Best to keep your own counsel and just work. If you can accept the situation, stay. If not, move on.

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  5. What a dilemma ! Good Luck with your talks with Gregg.

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  6. EEEESH. I guess what I'd advise you (not that you asked) is to consider carefully whether you can tolerate the kind of chaos that she seems to bring to the job. If you think that you can without losing your own mind, I'd be tempted to try it for a year and then, once you know the job, try to make a lateral move into another school. The best case scenario would be for her to begin bringing you into to the secretary's position when she misses a day. That would give you a chance to test the water.

    But, I would never be the one to mention the job offer first. Allow her to bring it up. Tell her that you'd consider it if it were officially offered. And then wait for that official offer.

    Boy oh boy. What a school day that was. Is your school normally a rough one?

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  7. Well that is an interesting development and, based on my own past experience with a psycho, scary because .... when my psycho's secretary retired, the psycho expected me to take the position. When I declined, she turned unbelievably hateful and made all the attorneys in her unit find fault with me OR she'd find fault with them. I took it and took it and took it because I had two girls to raise on my own but when I got offered a position away from her and her attorneys, she tried to block my taking the other position. Once I made it through all her roadblocks and was happy elsewhere, and the girl who took my position failed because she could not handle the workload and HATED the psycho and her attorneys, the psycho was all sick and sad and sorry as she tried to lure me back. Of course, after the horrible way she and they had treated me, it was a no go. All this to say that if you say no, be prepared for things to get really really ugly. On the other hand, if you say yes, there will still be unpleasantness because your psycho is obviously a few eggs short of a dozen. Good luck!

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    1. Jesus, I hope I can avoid that level of drama! And a few eggs short of a dozen...yes.

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  8. What a very varied and filled life you lead!

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  9. Your school can never be said to be boring for sure!

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  10. Wow. Crazy day from start to finish. I like your approach with the principal.

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    1. One has to tread lightly with the mentally ill! Haha.

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  11. Goodness! If I saw that in a film or series, I‘d believe it to be hugely exaggerated and dramatised for the audience, but we all know that real life continues to outdo anything any author can come up with.
    Your next-to-last sentence sums up your best course of action very well. I wouldn‘t be surprised if next week, she‘ll act completely different again.

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    1. I'm betting she won't mention it again today. I'm about to leave for work so I'll report back.

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  12. Never commented before but halfway down reading what you wrote, my first thought was that I hope that principal apologized to you.
    Think carefully about what to do. Worse case senario is that she hires someone who can't do the job you are doing now and you end up doing both jobs. Then no increase in pay with make up for the stress you will have.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment!

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  13. God, I thought I went to a rough school.

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    1. Ours has been getting worse and worse. I feel like I work in a prison sometimes!

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  14. I have no idea how you tolerate this situation. I don't have any idea what you should do, either. What a mess! It truly does sound sometimes like you're the only sane one there.

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    1. Sometimes I think I'm the only sane one, too!

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  15. I love that the ball is in your court. She now knows your worth and is terrified of losing you. Even so, she can't be trusted. I would do exactly what you have chosen to do. Stay quiet and don't let her know what you're thinking. Part of me feels you should look for a secretarial job in a less volatile school. The other part of me thinks you should take the secretarial job in the school you know, add it to your resume, and move on when the time is right. Either way, don't let this untrustworthy woman know how you're leaning.

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    1. That's something to consider, too. Thank you!

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  16. Your school is MUCH more interesting than mine. I never see ANY blood! (I suppose that's because I work in the library. Not a lot of opportunities for violence.)

    Seriously, I can understand why you're cautious about entertaining the prospect of this new job -- but how satisfying it must be to know you've shown the principal how capable you are. It's great that she sees that, even if only for the day. (And I'm betting she revisits this issue with you.)

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    1. One hopes not. But... Columbine: "Ten students were killed in the school library, where Harris and Klebold subsequently committed suicide."

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  17. There were days similar to this at my high school although if things were too crazy I could stay out of the main office whereas you didn't have that luxury. You have control over what you do/don't do--so that's nice! I think this principal would be extremely difficult and unpredictable to work for. But where you are is a known quantity and other places would not be.

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    1. Extremely difficult and unpredictable sums her up nicely.

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  18. If you want to take the job, tell her she has to put the fish tanks back in first.

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  19. It is hoped that with time and you biding your moves this sort of person burns out and departs.

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    1. Yes, I think it's a real possibility that she'll move on before too long.

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  21. They say that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush but that principal lady blows hot and cold. It wouldn't surprise me if Monday morning arrives and she has forgotten what she said on Friday afternoon. Even so, you deserve a little smirk of satisfaction for proving that in work terms you are better than the flaky woman who took the school secretary's job.

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    1. I have a feeling you're right..she won't mention it today. We'll see, and I'll report back!

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    2. I know you have "issues" with your school but you know it well - including parents, pupils and staff. That knowledge is pretty precious. In another school you would have to get to know many new people as well as tackling a big range of tasks that fall upon a school secretary.

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  22. I do hope this is all sorted out and to your advantage. If you do decide to accept the promotion, should it be genuinely offered and not just hot air, then you could look on it as experience for when you apply elsewhere.

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    1. I want a promotion elsewhere. Too much drama at this school!

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  23. So many schools have problems with fighting and injuries. That gym teacher really messed up, though. I can understand being worried about the principal. How many times can she change her mind?

    Love,
    Janie

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  24. I trust that you will make the right decision..you know what you are dealing with and will act accordingly...But if she offers you the job again Monday I'd ask for more money..hahah

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  25. I agree with your words and think that everything will come right in the end, and to wait and see since she is very volatile and may "forget" her offer. She seems like a strange woman and difficult to work for! Maybe you will get the job and she will leave, wouldn't that be ideal.

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  26. Update: she didn't mention the job again. Big surprise, huh? NOT! Haha. No big deal, it's kind of a relief. Thanks for all the supportive comments.

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  27. There's never a dull moment in a middle school, is there? I should write a book when I retire officially. (80 days to go!) I don't know if I would want to work for your principal. She sounds unstable!

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    1. She IS unstable, but I'm managing just fine. So far, at least!

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  28. New here! I'm curious as to what happened?
    hugs
    Donna

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