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A Skip, Hop and a Jump
I sat in the just slightly too air-conditioned waiting room, nervously bouncing my leg like a paranoid school girl. The only other person in the room was the secretary sitting at her desk that held a small reading lamp and several stacks of clustered paper. The secretary herself was an older woman with a beak nose, graying hair pulled harshly back, and a glare that she directed at me over her reading glasses. As for me, I was a sight, tall about six foot two last time I was at the doctor, with stringy brown curls pulled up into a ponytail with my favorite yellow scrunchie. I wore my purple rimmed glasses (that made my eyes look like they were about to pop out of my head) slightly askew on the bridge of my nose. I wore an asparagus-green sweater tucked loosely into a purple floral pattern skirt that barely covered my ankles. I also had on my lucky snake skin boots with one-and-a-half-inch heels, not that I needed it. I was here for an interview with the dean of Norfolk Prepatory School for the Gifted and Talented here in Nebraska. I was applying for a job as a Math teacher, this was also the seventh interview I’ve had and was my last hope at pursuing my passion. There was nothing I loved more than mathematics, the numbers, the signs, and the formulas! Ah the glorious formulas! It was my dream to share my passion with the children of the future and I intended on getting this job if it was the last thing I did. Then, somewhere in the back of my fantasy I thought I heard my name.
“Ms. Neberkowski? Uh Ms. Neberkowski?” The secretary was looking at me with a stern expression that had “you’re such an idiot” written all over it.
“Uh ya sorry.” I felt my entire face flush and my ears get hot.
“He’ll see you now.”
“Uh ok.” I stumbled, I picked up my old brown leather briefcase that was my dad’s before he passed and attempted to cross the room. Instead all the neatly organized contents spilled all over the floor with the sudden snap of the buckle breaking. I quickly tried to scoop up the papers as some flew away from my frantic flapping.
That’s when Large Scary Dean Man came out of his office to find me on the floor hands full of papers and glasses half off my face.
“Ahem!” he coughed giving me the same cold stare as his secretary had. “Collect your things quickly,” he said with a sniff of someone who grew up eating crumpets at teatime.
“Ye-yes sir” I stuttered, something I inconveniently did whenever I was nervous. Please God, the cosmos, Karma, whoever’s or whatever’s listening, help me! I prayed or wished, or whatever. I managed to shove all the papers back into the briefcase, albeit disastrously, and followed the Dean into his sparkling office. Seriously, not one thing was out of place, he even had his pens and pencils perfectly parallel on his desk. I sat in the chair opposite of him feeling more like a prisoner about to be interrogated then interviewed.
“I have been informed that you graduated with honors at the University of Northern Colorado, that’s impressive.” I paused expecting him to continue when I realized a moment too late that he was expecting me to comment.
“Oh, uh yes, thank you, I loved UNC, uh go Bears!” I said punching the air like some goofish frat boy.
“Ha ya, so shall I start by describing what your duties would be here? It’s important you know what your role would be so we can see if this is a good fit.” He said smiling wryly. With that he began to drone on and on into the extensive detail of the “normal day” including school polices which themselves seemed to go on till the end of time and the crucial role the teacher played in furthering our very important student prodigies, blah, blah, blah. I tried to pay attention, I really did but the only thing I seemed to be able to focus on was the collection of dark hairs between his eyebrows.
Is that enough to be considered a unibrow? I felt my eyes begin to squint as I tried to count them thinking that if there were over twenty I’d call it a unibrow.
“Is there something wrong Ms. Neberkowski?” he said interrupting my counting at sixteen.
“Oh no, just listening intently, Mr. Dean, uh sir.” I smiled my lopsided smile, “and please just call me Jane.”
“If you find it too difficult to pay attention to a simple explanation of duties then maybe Norfolk Prep is not the place for you, Ms. Neberkowski.”
“Oh no sir, sorry sir, I’m listening… ah sir.” He glared at me over the wide bridge of his nose, seeming to take in for the first time my appearance. One side of his unibrow (for I decided that was what it was) rose ever so slightly at me.
“Ahem, yes, well shall we move on? May I see your resume? And the recommendation letters?”
“Recommendation letters? I didn’t know I needed recommendation letters but if you contact Mr. Lars at UNC…”
“Mrs. Neberkowski, this is a highly esteemed Prepatory school where only the most gifted students attend, and only the most highly recommended teachers may work.” With every word he slowly rose out of his chair and mine seemed to swallow me whole, and still he continued “this is NOT a joke, this institution is one of the top in the state and parents pay us a hefty price to get the best education, do you think a middle class mother and father who take out a serious loan and sell their dream home to settle for a cramped living space to allow little Timmy to attend here is a joke? Well, I’ll tell you it is not. Every member of our staff is completely devoted to teaching our students the only the most prestigious education to help their exceedingly intelligent minds to flourish. Now since you are not suitably prepared for this interview I highly doubt you could come even close to being prepared for a career here. I will ask you now to gather your things, walk out of this office and never disgrace the halls of this educational institution ever again!” By the time he was finished I was in tears. I gathered my briefcase and all but fled from my last hope at my dream.
I went home to my small and cluttered apartment and threw myself on my bed. There I lay, sobbing until I couldn’t sob anymore. Before I knew it I was too tired to stay awake and drifted into a dreamless sleep.
The next morning, my clothes rumpled and little hairs sticking out all over my head, I went to grab my newspaper. I half-heartedly looked through the job listings in search a waitress job or maybe a sales clerk, because that’s what they needed: a clumsy giant who could take out a whole table of people or a rack of clothes with one misstep. My eyes skimmed the page and one word caught my attention, I focused on the small article and read:
7th grade Math Teacher Wanted
Cherry Oakes Middle School
Please Contact Linda Sherri
Well I guess someone was listening. I thought with a smile on my face. I reached for my phone and started to dial.
Several months later I sat looking back at my past mishaps with a smile on my face and a feeling of contentment, that feeling you get when you overcome all odds (especially scary Deans). Even though I didn’t get the job at the big fancy private school I’m considerably happier here at Cherry Oakes, teaching all the wonderful children the excitement and exhilaration of formulas.