You would think, would you not, that one might feel safe and secure in a school setting. In a small rural school, where everybody knows everybody. Where your fellow faculty step in when needed, and mind their own beeswax when not. Where administration, faculty, staff, and students pull together for the good of the cause, one for all and all for one. Where lunch in the cafeteria is a pleasant interlude from hard-core learning. A place to relax. To let your hair down. Enjoy the company of your peers. Safely. While ingesting wholesome food to fuel your brain for the afternoon ahead.
I once thought as much.
Today we sat at our faculty lunch table in the cafeteria, discussing the relative merits of our incoming freshmen. A feisty group. Yet not unpleasant. And then it happened.
I felt an impact on my upper left arm. The place right beside the fatty part that jiggles when I wave along the parade route, unless I take my teaching buddy Mabel's advice, and give the royal wave. I looked to determine the severity of my injury, only to see a thin red liquid coursing down my arm. Thin rivulets. With shrapnel. The sleeve of my shirt was stained. The teacher next to me gasped. She tried to stem the flow of fluid. Dabbed at it with a napkin. "I am SO sorry!"
The rest of the table laughed. Hee hawed, actually. Belly laughed. Brayed like donkeys. Made light of my misfortune. Students at the table next to us, my last-year's charges, snickered openly.
I had been tomatoed. My second-cousin-about-to-be-removed had chomped down on a grape tomato, and sprayed the living daylights out of it. Right onto my arm. Good thing for her. The principal was on her other side. Does one not chew with one's mouth closed any more? Is the force of a single grape tomato so powerful that it explodes out of one's tight-lipped mouth?
I looked to the left. To the right. I know how Carrie felt on prom night. Yet there were no doors for me to slam telekinetically. So I used my words.
"Is it too much to ask that I be able to dress in regular clothes at work? I had no idea this morning that my wardrobe should have been that of a person with front-row tickets to a Gallagher performance." I turned to my former relative. "Your jaws have the power of a hefty wooden mallet."
I completed my day in soiled clothing. Including parking lot duty. I'm expecting an email about professional dress. Will somebody please play the world's smallest violin for me?