Current/Recent Reading List

21 October 2008

Carpooling: A Cautionary Tale

So, at the end of last year three English teachers and a science teacher decided that in 08/09 they would meet up at a central location in Raleigh and drive together for the 20-some miles it takes to get to school from there, for all the usual reasons of saving money and going green(er). The cinching criteria that the science teacher met, since the other three had already planned this, was that she could speak in similarly glowing terms of their preferred presidential candidate, thus ensuring their ability to speak openly and freely about the topic that sooooo commands most of their attention outside of school, namely politics, politics, politics. But, I happen to know, they are also pretty fair shots when it comes to trashing others, complaining about their personal lives, and deciding to stop for drinks, occasionally, on the way home.

Well, I share a first block planning period and a planning lounge with the other sophomore English teachers, including the youngest of the carpooling foursome, and we have been pretty good friends since last year, when we were both newbies at our current school. She is quite mature for her age, but she is just 24-25, and lately around her I've been reminded just how impressionable an age that still can be. You see, at first it seemed the carpooling was going swimmingly, but after a few weeks we noticed her coming in grumpier and grumpier, swearing more than usual. Soon she was prone to mini-rants (personal or political) every other day, some of which included harsh trashing of other school employees (notably, the science teacher mentioned above). She would also volunteer what others on the car rides were saying, and intentionally or not, painting not-so flattering portraits of them (two of them are my age, by the way, and I have been present for savage rants of theirs before as well).

A couple of weeks ago my young friend blurted out that she realized she had become quite cynical and negative, and wondered aloud if it was because of all the time she spent with her largely cynical and negative carpool buddies (Ding! Ding! Ding!). Last Thursday she came in looking sunken, had a rough day at work, and on the ride home had to hear about how one of the other riders was called onto the carpet by the principal for a lost temper at some meeting earlier in the week. On Friday, my friend was not at school, and the other teachers said she was taking a "mental health" day. Then, on Monday, upon her return, she told us she was no longer carpooling, and instead would live with the higher gas costs.

I will venture a guess that she will seem much happier within a week or two.

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