WTF America? As a nation, we have lost our sense of humor.
Any of the following sound familiar?
Bosses who are politically motivated. Henchmen from Human Resources. A P.C. culture run amok. Perceived threats of litigation looming like boogie-men—er, my bad–boogie persons instilling lower-level supervisors with paranoia. Self-aggrandizing middle-management. Dr. Evil behind every corner.
No, it’s not a new Austin Powers movie. It’s today’s schools and workplaces.
We might as well put a sign up that says: NO HAVING FUN.
I used to joke with my students whenever they laughed, “Stop laughing. No having fun. This is school. You can’t learn and laugh at the same time.”
This, in turn, caused more laughter. After all, a teaspoon of sugar makes the medicine go down.
Until the lunatics took over the asylum.
Micromanagers hate humor. It’s something they don’t understand. Because humor requires intellect. Something control-freak micromanagers lack.
First case in point,
In my county’s school system, around the time all this PC stuff started to run amok, a news story hit the front page of the county rag-newspaper that was absolutely shocking. I’m surprised those involved weren’t imprisoned for twenty years after the story broke.
A few school secretaries got together and gave another school secretary a birthday cake shaped like a penis. At a private lunch. Where no high school students could see. Give me the strength.
Another case in point–one more personal for this writer:
This is a cautionary tale. I actually lived long enough for a former coworker/frienemy to become an ass I had to kiss. Yeah, she was always an ass. The difference was the puckering up that was expected.
I’m just not very good at it.
Anyway, our paths first crossed in 1993 when she was a first-year teacher. (She was one of those stay-at-home Martha Stewart-Wannabes who, upon sending her last child off to college, decided she could be a better teacher than anyone who dared educate her perfect progeny. I have it on good authority she was the parent-from-hell at her children’s schools through the years.)
Anyway, at the end of Martha’s first year of teaching, her homeroom gave me a giant trophy for being their favorite teacher.
Martha was not amused. I recall her words upon seeing the award, “Well, I wonder where they stole that from…”
It was at the end of a very long year with Mrs. Perfectionist. I didn’t care for her first-year teacher know-it-all attitude, and neither did the other women on the team. The one man, however, loved Martha.
She had a modus opernadi that apparently served her well over the years: She sucked up to the most powerful man available to her, and then imposed her will through him. (Very fifties-femme-fatale, but without the sexual appeal.)
So, for example, when Martha tried to impose her system of color-coding her gradebook on our whole middle-school team of teachers, it went over like a fart in church. Edgar, of course, had no issue with the suggestion. Martha loved to stroke Edgar’s big … ego.
And thus began our animosity. No matter. I transferred out of that middle school for a high school position elsewhere at the end of that year. I would never have to deal with Martha again. Or so I thought.
Two schools and ten years later, we were in the same building–she as an assistant principal and me as a teacher.
Then, when our principal retired unexpectedly mid-year, Martha was able to finagle her way into the position using her old M.O.
Hearing she got the job over the other contender, I knew I was in for it. But I was a strong teacher with an excellent record of success. She couldn’t get me on my teaching. She had to find something else.
And that’s just what she did. One of the ways she did it…mind you, just one–there were more–is as follows:
As a creative writing teacher, I had funny little posts all over my classroom. Some contributed by students, some by colleagues, and some I created.
One day, I found a picture of the superintendent on the front page of the local rag-paper (yes, the same paper that ran the penis birthday cake headline), so I cut it out and put it up on the side chalkboard in my room.
Anyway, in the picture, the superintendent, a woman who resembled Edith Bunker, was speaking at a podium. I wrote a thought bubble on the chalkboard over her head that said, “I make $210,000 a year to do this job.”
It was not a libel. it was a matter of public record. She did make $210K a year, plus a vehicle, full benefits and a kick-ass pension. It’s something students could aspire to–or respond to in a number of different ways.
Martha was not amused. I received my first official smack-down in the form of a letter in my personnel file.
Cue the Violent Femmes old song, KISS OFF, and all together now:
I was destroyed… No, I wasn’t. Just joking. Is joking still permitted in blog posts?
You see, I’ve been around long enough to know where the bodies are buried and this was no scandal. It was just a prelude to Martha’s next move which is the subject of next week’s post, entitled, JEFF GOLDBLUM IS WATCHING YOU POOP.
Until next time, keep laughing. It will make management wonder what you are up to.
And remember, in the words of Taylor Swift,
Or, in more proper terms,
And I’m just grooving to my own beat. With my trophy.
Susan J. Anderson, Foxy Writer Chick