No deal

16 Oct

I get the call while I’m tutoring a student in geometry, tell him I’d have to take it, as it’s about a teaching job. The principal thanks me for applying and says they’ve chosen another candidate; she has a stronger knowledge of content. Assuming that would be earth and space science, as I had unwisely confessed that those were not my best areas, compared to biology and chemistry. Not that 6th grade geology and astronomy is rocket science anyway–simpler than biology and ecology at least at that level–all gravity, heat and tectonic plate movement and barely a mention of dark matter and neutrinos–nothing I can’t teach very well, thank you very much. Which is more like what I’ll say next time. As I hang up I feel a heaviness somewhere in my gut, but it helps to keep on going through the geometry screens with my student, let it go for now. Make an appointment with your grief, the counselor said, that time.

Driving home, I am feeling small, past my prime, and a little angry. Consoling myself that surely they really have found someone better, knowing there are lots, after all. Suspecting that I got Googled and found out about my expressed opinions about the Smarter Balances standardized tests. Wanting to accept the stated reason, still. Also reminding myself that I wouldn’t have to commute or move to another county just yet, that the property we were looking at was looking like an even better prospect. I role play in my mind as I drive, requesting a followup chat, asking what in particular made them decide I was not a good fit…anything in particular, anything at all? And then going to the HR department of my own district and asking the same question, about not being selected for an interview for any of the science or math positions for which I had applied. Had the vetting process been impartial and fair? And if so, I’d appreciate some insights, please, some suggestions as to how I could improve my qualifications, besides more experience and references from administrators.

But I’m not very good at maintaining a fighting spirit, for myself, anyway.

I pick up my library holds and head over to the track to watch my youngest son do his shot put. He’s little, feels he’s not good at anything, but keeps up a cheerful banter with his friend in the lineup and does his best. Seems at the moment unfazed that his less developed arms can only put fourteen feet, while the girls and older boys are putting balls out to the twenties. On the way home I encourage him to enter more events, maybe running too, and as usual we get into an argument because he says he’s no good at it, and I say you can’t improve without the work, adding Grandpa’s comment that he has good running form. But he won’t listen, and I’m not really listening either. I know that he’s likely to become a big, strong guy in not very many years, and want him to keep his hand in the game, learn all he can, keep his options open, get used to the discipline and effort and all that, build character.

Can I really be a teacher? I can’t even influence my own kids, get them to learn a can-do attitude, to pick up after themselves, and grasp what goes into the compost and what’s garbage. But then family’s like that. Some things take a generation. I can do this. If I can just master the art of the interview, in its current form.

I forget to get milk from the corner gas station, drive on autopilot along the bay, across the bridge and home. Pulling into the driveway, I think at least my house looks sleek and professional, in its new dark paint with cream trim. The yellow was cheerful, but outdated. My boy has scampered into the house. I sigh, maneuver out of the seat, shouldering my teacher tote, laptop bag, purse, and travel mug, head into the house. The house I’m tired of fixing up, keeping up, having nowhere to escape the T.V. or do any sewing, and where everyone just leaves their breakfast mess and takes off in the morning. Laundry piling up, dog fur on the couch, broken oven… Realize I’d better have some down time, or someone was going to get chewed out. Not in a good frame of mind to tackle home management problems and assign chore duties. Still, I remember that my daughter has asked me to extend a dress for homecoming, and it has to be done that night. I set up the serger, do the first part, but she’d not home to try it on–out at a game with a friend.

Dinner is a salad from the garden and oven chicken strips from the frozen food section—I had to call home an hour ahead to have someone pre-heat the failing oven. I growl at everyone that this is a sit down meal, so they’d better come, and wait until everyone is there. I’m not very good at making family meals happen any more. As we dish up, my husband tries to console me about not getting the job, reminds me that it takes more than one interview, that it’s probably for the best, thanks me for the wonderful dinner. But I feel prickly still. The fact that everyone bolts after eating, one to do homework, one to watch the game, one to take a shower, doesn’t help. For some reason no one wants to linger to help clear the table.


Posted by on October 16, 2015 in Places & Experiences


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3 responses to “No deal

  1. jdawgsrunningblog

    October 17, 2015 at 7:01 am

    hard piece to read–very well done–brave and bold and made me feel sad and upset—and frustrated with ‘my’ profession–disgusted that someone of your quality of mind and heart cannot get work–and that those qualities are not immediately noted and noticed in a job interview….felt that the way you wrote this was spot-on–how you described life continuing to go on–and how you are inhabiting the space in the midst of such a surreal outcome….if you can keep writing in the midst of such seeming debacles, your work will be the cream that consistently rises to the top.

  2. brightlittlefirecracker

    October 18, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    That’s a familiar feeling; didn’t get the job, can’t figure out how to do better next time… so sorry 😦

    • toesinthedirt

      October 21, 2015 at 11:36 am

      Thank you. I feel better about it now–it’s true that to a certain degree I don’t even know what I don’t know in geology, so it’s just as well.
      I heard a cool suggestion on a CBC Radio piece, useful especially if one feels the interview isn’t going off very well. You can ask (when it’s your turn for questions), “Do you have any concerns you have about my being able to succeed in this position?” Then if there are points, you can respond to these directly. I’m keeping that one in my mental folder.


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