After teaching for nearly ten years and working with thousands of students it is inevitable that I run into them from time to time as I am going about my daily business. Generally, it’s a relatively painless experience- they either say hello and stop for a chat, look past me as if I’m not there and carry on walking, and the odd few will ignore me yet feel the need to shout my name out at me from a distance. The name-shouting is something that has always baffled me – I must give the impression that I regularly need reminding of what my name is – but I generally ignore it until I’m ready to leave, shoot them my nastiest teacher expression and walk away. I don’t teach anymore, therefore I don’t need to pretend to like any of the little cherubs who wish to cause trouble when they see me like I had to before.
Yesterday, however, was a new experience. I went to the hospital to have some minor tests done. After the Great Arm Massacre of 2014 during my week-long hospital stay I’m not good with needles or injections, and so I tried to brace myself and remain as calm as possible when I was called in.
My nurse, as lovely as she was, couldn’t find a vein and made several attempts to draw blood across my hand and arm, to no avail. She was very young, obviously still training and doing her absolute best to keep me calm and distracted by asking me questions, bless her, but it’s quite difficult to be able to focus on a conversation with someone about my pets when they’re trying (and failing) to deliberately make you bleed. Eventually, after my ears started to ring I began to panic, lost my sh*t and burst into tears. Not the poetic, single drop of water down the cheek that you see in the movies mind you, more the avalanche of ugly crying out loud with accompanying snot.
The nurse eventually left, only to then be replaced by another nurse… who happened to be an ex-student.
She was one of those students that you wished you could teach all day, every day. Fun, friendly, bubbly and hard-working, she approached me with the same smile as she used to at school and I was immediately mortified – there’s nothing more embarrassing than sitting there with tears and snot running down your face, while being confronted with ‘Hello, Miss!’… It’s such a strange experience – even after not seeing her for several years and no longer being in the teacher/student relationship I immediately sat up and pulled myself together as you’re not supposed to project any personal feelings in front of the kids.
She wasn’t able to draw any blood either… but it was nice to see that she is doing so well for herself, and at least I managed to hold it together after that!
I’ve always wondered where a lot of my ex-students end up after they have finished their exams. Now I know: my local hospital. They’re everywhere – nurses, cleaners, working in the cafes… I became quite self-conscious that I was in my sweats and looking like total crap by the fourth time that I recognised someone. Thank goodness that it was only a blood test I needed or it could have been a little awkward…
Luckily, the doctor who saw me afterwards was able to get the sample with relatively pain-free ease (and everything is all-clear and fine), but it got me thinking:
If ever I’m scared or upset in the future I now have the solution – find an ex-student that I respect and make them stand in front of me to trigger teacher mode and get myself together.
What about you guys? Is there something that immediately makes you sit up and pull yourself together even when the tears are streaming?