Monday, July 30, 2007

subbing and retirement

There are some retired teachers who substitute at my school. Some are teachers who just recently retired, and are having difficult breaking free of the routine and camaraderie. They usually only last a few months and then they are off to winter in Florida. We never see them again.

There are 2 retired male teachers, in their late 70's and early 80's, who use canes to get around. They substitute almost everyday all year round. I admire and respect both men, and love to talk with them. The students, on the other hand, are not very respectful. In fact, they can be very rude. Substitute teachers have a tough job, and do it for minimal compensation. So, why would these men spend their retirement days back "teaching". It ends up being more like babysitting. The men are often shaking their heads, saying "kids are a lot worse than when I was teaching." Are the men that lonely or bored? Why not work as a greeter at Walmart? I feel bad for them, and imagine that if they didn't come to school they would spend their days alone watching game shows.

Jeff and I were talking about retirement today, as we frequently do. We both are hoping to be done with "regular" jobs around age 55. I know I will not be doing any substitute teaching when I retire. It is bad enough when I have to cover a class for someone. Any break in the routine, results in chaos in the classroom. I can see myself doing some sort of volunteer work with animals. Maybe training my dogs to be therapy dogs in hospitals.

I know that Jeff will always find some way to generate extra cash - it is innate in him and one of his many passions. He will forever be "the hustler" and not one to sit idle. I don't think he will ever be "retired".

During our conversation today, Jeff surprised me. He said he wouldn't mind working on a car lot in his retirement, hosing down the new cars, not selling them. Jeff said that the customers leaving the car lot would say, "Look at that poor old guy, glad I don't have his job, he must have a horrible life." Meanwhile, Jeff said he would be thinking, "Look at those poor young people with the huge car payment."

That got me thinking. Maybe I shouldn't feel bad for those 2 substitute teachers. There must be some payoff that they are getting from subbing (and it sure isn't a financial payoff). Maybe they're not there because they need someone to share their grand children's photos with, or the chit chat in the faculty room at lunch time, or the smell of chalk. Perhaps they get satisfaction from thinking to themselves, "These poor new teachers sure have to deal with a lot more problems than we ever did."

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