To hear my students tell it, I'm like really, really old 'n' stuff because I'm no longer in my twenties. But I'm not too old to recognize that sometimes a career in teaching isn't the best match for some of my less-disciplined, easily-distracted, narcissistic colleagues who spend more time ruminating about themselves than about any required subject matter.
As I walked towards my office, I passed a Basket-Weaving classroom this morning, where I heard a colleague--whom I have labeled "Coffee Colleague" because of her insistence on carrying a Starbucks coffee travel mug with her everywhere--describing, in great detail and at greater volume than necessary, the angst she had faced because the fancy half-caf-latte-cappuccino maker she'd received for her wedding four years ago had chosen this morning to give up the java by burbling its last. To hear her tell it, the Apocalypse, the Second Coming, and the Renaissance Reformation were all occurring in her kitchen. And on purpose. Said fancy European appliance had carefully chosen today to torture her with its inability to froth forth.
Loitering by the drinking fountain next to her classroom allowed me to both eavesdrop and rehydrate myself. At this point, had it been my class, I would have canned the chit-chat and started in on the lecture or the day's activities. Clearly, the lack of caffeinated courage had also diminished my colleague's common sense, because she then started to seek suggestions from students about the best coffee source on or near the campus. Not once did she glance at the clock behind her at her cell phone or watch to see if perhaps 12 minutes of self gratifying grumbling was enough to get the point across and start the lecture already.
Minute 13 ticked by... what had started as a sad saga about the coffee machine now launched into a memory of best coffee-shop-grading experiences. The mere fact that she grades her students' work at a coffee shop when she has... um... had... a coffee maker at home, irritated me. Why would someone go to a coffee shop to BUY coffee and grade student work on a table the size of a large pizza when they could spread out at home with coffee they'd already paid for? And why was the lecture not starting?
Minute 15 and Coffee Colleague finally pulled out her lecture notes and attempted to gain some level of control from the class by saying, "OK, let's take out a piece of paper to do a quiz."
'Aaaaaaand, we're finally starting class,' I thought. But no...
"Question One: What is the best coffee you've ever had?" she asked. I kid you not! Were I a student in the class, I would have been gleeful because this was a question I would have signed, sealed, and nailed to the door in triplicate to affirm my knowledge of something insignificant that a professor would deem legitimate.
Were I a less snoopy colleague, I would have sidled away and pretended I hadn't loitered for 15 minutes outside her classroom. Instead, I chose to remain. And I chose to listen as the first 20 minutes of class were taken up by Coffee Colleague's personal agenda of the day.
My bladder decided for me that standing next to the humming water fountain for 20 minutes was enough to incite someone to write a blog about their creepy colleague who eavesdropped on their class, so I made my way to the restroom, and then to my office, where I sipped my own home-made cup of brew and planned a real quiz for my class.
Incidentally, when class was over, Coffee Colleague thought it might brighten my day to come and share with me the tragedy that was her morning. I listened, all the while slurping my coffee a little louder than necessary...