|February 8, 2001
Not My Calling
I'm beginning to realize that I would have made a lousy teacher.
It's not that I don't have the skills or the smarts or the wherewithall to teach. I probably do. I'm moderately well-educated. I communicate well. I have perfect penmanship. I love apples.
(I look fabulous in a cardigan sweater.)
The problem is that I simply don't have the patience to teach. Frankly, I find the whole process more frustrating than rewarding ... more nerve-grating than life-affirming. Whether I'm showing David how to maneuver around PaintShop Pro, or giving one of the Tots over-the-phone directions for turning the omelet in the pan ...
... or -- like I'm doing this week -- training the new Executive Ass ...
... I always expect my student to automatically *get it* the very first time through. I don't like to repeat myself, or to go back over material we've already covered, or to repeat myself. I expect the transfer of knowledge to be instantaneous. (And preferably telepathic.) When it isn't, as is invariably the case since I'm this incredibly lousy teacher, I can't disguise my irritation. I stop just short of swatting my pupil smartly about the knuckles with a sharp wooden ruler ... but I know that my annoyance is visible. And audible.
'Size 2' -- aka Sharyn -- aka the new Executive Ass -- is turning out to be a perfectly nice, perfectly reasonable, perfectly-not-completely-terrible person. I'm beginning to suspect that her snooty demeanor the other week, when she came in to interview, had more to do with nerves than with genuine snobbery on her part. (Either that, or else her St. John's Wort is kicking in already.) I have no clue how old she is: fortysomething would be my guess. I don't know where she lives, or where she worked last, or anything about her background. She hasn't volunteered anything in the way of details about herself while we've been training together the past two days, and since I'm pretty sure that she and Franz have at least a passing acquaintance outside of the office, I'm not about to pry. Neither am I sharing *my* life story with her, for pretty much the same reason. I figure she can find out about my alcoholism and the noncustodial motherhood and the fiance-I-met-in-an-AOL-chat-room the old-fashioned way: via the Internet. I still don't see Sharyn and I ever becoming bosom buddies -- with some people you can just tell, right off the bat -- but I probably wouldn't hide behind the Rice-A-Roni display if I ran into her at the grocery store, either.
Luckily for both of us, she's mostly *getting* everything the first time through. I'm not having to repeat myself over and over again. Her knuckles are safe.
Even so ... I hate this teaching stuff.
I hate being back downstairs on the first floor, for one thing. It's moldy and dark and claustrophobic down there: a vast, cavernous, windowless, unventilated hell. My sinuses begin to scream in agony after about ten minutes in Reception Area Hell. The first floor coffeemaker leaks, and everything in the refrigerator down there smells like old gym socks. There are no radios allowed. You need a key to get into the bathroom. And, of course, being on the first floor puts me murderously close to Franz. Yesterday he kept inventing stoopid reasons to hang around Reception Area Hell while I was sitting there with Sharyn -- 'looking for his dental insurance card,' for instance, or 'waiting for the UPS guy to deliver the new credenza' -- and even though he was operating in full *Friendly Franz* Mode, purely for her benefit, he wasn't fooling me for an instant. His mouth may have been saying Hiya, Secra! Nice to see you again! ... but his eyes were saying Die, disloyal bitch! Die!
The sooner we have those four floors separating the two of us, the better.
For another thing, I hate having to talk, talk, talk all day long. I feel like I've TALKED more, in the past 48 hours, than in the last six months put together. You never realize how complex your job is, I guess, until you have to try and explain it to someone else. Once I'm back upstairs in my own beloved little office, I'm gonna shut the door and not say a word to ANYBODY for about a week, Isweartogod.
And I especially hate how futile all of this effort feels right now. Sure, I can show Sharyn how *I* have done things for the past couple of years: how I save copies of absolutely everything I type/fax/copy/schedule/order/mail/doodle in a "Just In Case" chron file ... how I maintain individual files on each of Franz' 43,897,621 personal physicians, so I don't inadvertently send him to the scalp doctor for that thyroid scan ... how I always keep secret emergency stashes of Kleenex and Motrin and Pentel Rolling Writers, tucked away in my bottom desk drawer. I can warn her about Jorge the Horny Security Guy. I can show her how to unjam the sticky second file drawer. I can recommend the chicken salad sandwich from the deli across the street. I can pass along all of my vast reserves of accumulated knowledge and expertise and experience and stuff. But I know damn well that the instant the training process is concluded and I leave her on her own, she's either going to immediately disregard everything I've taught her and set about doing things 'her' way ... or else she'll quit within 48 hours.
Either way, I will have wasted four days' worth of precious *time and energy molecules.*
Still, I know that unless I suck it up this week and do a really superb job of training Sharyn -- unless I make sure that she feels comfortable, and that she knows where all of the fire exits are located, and that she NEVER encounters *Unfriendly Franz* until she's all settled in at the Totem Pole Company (at least until she's put the down payment on that new Miata, anyway, and can't afford to quit), I'm likely to find myself spending lots more time on that moldy first floor, in the weeks ahead, than I care to.
And I'll be spending most of that time teaching.