Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," marvelous manifestations of multiple miracles since 2005! I'm your host, Anne Johnson. If you address me, please be sure to include the "e" on the end of my name. It's a sign of class.
In August of 2004 I lost the job I'd held and loved for 20 years. I would have been devastated, except my dad had suffered a terrible accident the same week -- I was more worried about him.
But as the weeks and months wore on, the lack of income became more and more distressing. Then Dad died early in 2005, and within a few months my efficient and morally upstanding sister had dispersed to me my share of his estate.
These funds kept us going at Chateau Johnson while I got the certification to be a substitute teacher. I was planning to substitute at Snobville High School, the whip-cracker of an institution that my daughter attends.
In the summer of 2005 my daughters and I took a day trip to the Jersey Shore, there to spend some time on the beach with my daughter The Heir's friend, who I'll call May. While the teens lolled on the beach, I chatted with May's mom back at the bungalow she'd rented. I told May's mom about my employment problems, and how I planned to start subbing at Snobville High.
She said to me, "I'm the principal of the Vo-Tech. It's an eight minute drive from Snobville. You should put in your paperwork with us."
The Vo-Tech draws its students from Camden, a city that will probably regain its distinction as the murder capital of America when the next list rolls around. But from Day One I liked the Vo-Tech. You know, kids are kids, and you're going to have smart alecks everywhere. But the difference between Snobville High (where I subbed a little) and the Vo-Tech (where I subbed more and more) is that the kids at Snobville look right through substitute teachers as if they don't exist. Boy, I hated that.
When an English teacher went out from the Vo-Tech for a prolonged operation and recuperation, I got my first long-term sub job. Smack in the middle I got a little certificate that isn't exactly a teaching certificate, but sort of a certificate that could lead to a certificate. If you've ever had to deal with state bureaucracy, you know what I'm talking about.
Anyway, I moved myself up through the substitute ranks at the Vo-Tech. Last week I started working at the Vo-Tech as an English tutor. My employer is the federal government, No Child Left Behind. In the haste to push and shove Americans up to the academic standards of the rest of the world, kids like the students at the Vo-Tech just struggle like salmon leaping up a waterfall. I'm here to help them now, every school day.
The point of all of this is that the bored gods work in weird ways. I never thought I'd become any kind of teacher, let alone a tutor of inner city kids. Besides that, I never would have thought I would enjoy doing it. I spent 20 years sitting alone in a home office, writing reference books. I liked that. But I find I also like being around people.
To whatever Goddess threw me this opportunity, I would like to say, "Thank you. I intend to be a civil servant who actually serves."
Please wish me luck. Of course it's still part-time contract work with no benefits, but it's a paycheck. But more important, it's something I can do, and something that could help two dozen minority students get their high school diplomas. And we all know how important that is.
I never petitioned the bored gods for this opportunity. Not with the world the way it is, so many people out of work, out of homes, starving in Third World countries. But some sweet Goddess somewhere just placed this in my lap. How nice of Her!