Thursday, October 3, 2013

If a Teacher Plays Hooky in the Park and No One Knows Her, is it Still Considered Truancy?

Yesterday I used some personal leave from work to take care of my business. Not my proposed handbasket factory. Just my business, as in, it's none of your business.

I also met up with my best old ex-teaching friend, Mabel. We had arranged our rendezvous two sentences at a time, by text, within the 50-minute interval that is my plan time. That's because our cellular providers don't see any urgency in placing communication towers in the Outer Backroadsia area, and home cell phone usage is like trying to talk on a long section of twine stretched between two tin cans. We can't even ask each other, "Can you hear me now?" We might as well type, "Can you read me now?" Texts are not instantaneous.

Still, we are quite efficient, Mabel and I. The logistical ballet did not come near to rivaling the D-Day Invasion logistics of Mom and me planning to meet briefly to exchange already-read tabloids and two dollars. It was more akin to mounting a nationwide tour for the Barnum and Bailey Circus.

I had not seen Mabel since May 17th. Graduation night. Our last, unbeknownst to me. And her. She up and surprise-retired over the summer. Notifying me by text, of course. You'd think we were separated by more than one thin county line, and less than the distance of Rhode Island's diameter. But we weren't.

Our joyous celebration (not to be confused with a somber celebration) took place at a midway city park. Mabel and I stopped short of grasping hands, tilting our noses in the air, and serpentining a Snoopy toe-tapping dance through the primary-colored playground equipment. However...Mabel stole three years worth of hugs from Val's prickly persona. I do not plan to press charges for the flesh-pressing.

We selected a concrete picnic table three meters from the parking area. Of course that signaled a horde of morning park-walkers to converge like locusts from the wisps of fog. A closer resemblance of those walkers to the entire populace of WhoVille could not have been engineered through cloning. Young, old, male, female, fit, fat, fit-fat, scrawny, hairy, smooth, bowlegged, knock-kneed, erect, humped, dog-walking, baby-carrying, toddler-pushing...I'm sure they had all plopped a roast beast into the crockpot before leaving their colorful, curlicued homes.

Every time one lady went past, I thought I recognized her back. I finally mentioned it to Mabel, who informed me that my backquaintance stared at me each time she walked by. Finally, Backquaintance said, "Are you retired?" Dang! Spies are everywhere! No. I am not retired. But Backquaintance is. She's a friend and neighbor of my newly-retired sister, the ex-mayor's wife. Backquaintance should be ashamed, out spying for The Man.

"No. I'm taking a personal day. You can't get me in trouble if you try!" I also made note that Backquaintance was pushing her toddler granddaughter around the park at 110.5 mph in a red plastic automobile. That's what the dashboard decal said, anyway. No wonder that kid threw a shoe that took two laps to recover. We agreed that our blackmail data cancelled out any upper-hand-gaining contact with respective authorities.

Mabel and I had a delightful visit. I refrained from treating a walked-dog's nose like Bubble Yum. And Mabel ate a bug. A good time was had by all. Except maybe the bug.


  1. Ooo-weee. I am taking a sick day in a few weeks to get dental surgery done. I imagine I will have less fun than you and Mabel did...

  2. I have not taken a personal day in so long. If I do I have call in to my nurse supervisor and she wants to know all the whens, wheres, hows, whos, whats, whys and when I will be returning and I better get a doctors note. A letter will end up in my file a few days later saying I need to have a meeting in person now and again...she wants to know all the whens, wheres, hows, whos, whats and whys. It isn't worth it. So instead I hang out with someone who is sick and hope that I get to feeling unwell.

  3. These days all I have are personal days.

    First of all, let me clarify the term "Personal Day." It is not to be confused with the term "Mental Health Day," which folks not in The Biz might mistake it for.

    A "Personal Day" is part of the educator's benefits package. At my present position, we are allotted 10 sick days per school year. Three of these 10 may be used as "Personal Days" to attend to business that cannot be transacted on weekends or after-school hours. To sign closing papers on a home purchase, perhaps, or to attend a religious function out of town, cut the ribbon at a handbasket factory grand opening, etc.

    If one does not use one's sick days, they can accumulate to a grand total of 100, for which one will be paid the sum of $20 per day upon leaving the district. Any days over 100 disappear into a sucking sick-day whirlpool, never to be seen again. "Personal Days" cannot be saved. They revert to sick days. Nobody ever has more than three "Personal Days" on their books during a given school year. Different school districts have different, but similar, policies. We had to fight for that third "Personal Day."

    That said...


    If you get the laughing gas, you may briefly exceed our fun level. Watch out for dog noses. While fairly soft, they ARE chewy, and would most likely wreak havoc with dental surgery recovery time.

    That's the great thing about our "Personal Days." There is a line for "reason" on the request form, but one is not challenged if one merely writes "personal" in that space. We only need a doctor's note for an absence of more than three consecutive days.

    I can't wait until all my days are personal days! Two and 3/4 school years to go. That's only 11 quarters, you know!

  5. I refuse to travel anywhere near my school when I use a day. To take a personal day in my school system, we now have to turn in a request 10 days prior to our absence. One of my personal days disappeared last year and turned into a sick day when I didn't turn it in by the proper time. I just wish they would let us use the days as needed. Then I wouldn't feel guilty when I take a sick day that should be used as a personal day when it occurs within the 10 day period. I understand that there would be people who abuse the policy, but there are those that do with the current one.

  6. Melissa,
    That's harsh! Sometimes you can't know ten days ahead of when you might need that day. At one of my old schools, I had a 60-mile commute. A big ice storm hit overnight, and I could not even get out of my side street to attempt the drive. I called in and said I could not make it. The next day, the superintendent's secretary came up to my classroom to ask if I wanted to use a personal day or have my pay docked for that absence. "The personal day, of course." I think we only got one per year at that school. The secretary said, "Next time, just call in sick and make it easier for everybody."