… you find out that your enemy is dead.
And your feelings are, well, conflicted.
She was my most memorable boss,but not because she was my favorite.
In fact, she tormented me. For MONTHS.
She did just about everything an employer shouldn’t do.
Oh, the list runs the gambit – from talking to me like I was stupid, to laughing at my questions, and even screaming at me when I stopped into her office to discuss a matter with her.
I’m telling you, she made my life Hell for over a year. Under her shitty tutelage, I learner absolutely nothing about classroom management, course structure, or lesson plan design.
And the only thing I developed while working with her was a drinking habit and a list of “Other Things I’d Rather Be Doing Than This”, which I kept on my flash drive.
I came across the list a few weeks before finding out about her death. It included such tasks as:
1) Peeling and eating my own skin.
2) Wearing a spider shirt.
3) Watching “Staying Alive “, starring John Travolta, on constant loop.
4) Cleaning the only toilet in a 2nd rate Indian restaurant.
5) Macy Gray’s vocal coach.
Yeah. She made me miserable .
It was so bad, I almost quit the entire profession. I thought, if this is how it’s gonna be, then…
Instead of mentoring me as a brand new educator, she did everything in her power to discourage and downright humiliate me.
And dammed if she wasn’t almost successful.
I stayed, and put on my big girl pantries. I told myself, over and over, that I was an outstanding educator.
Until it became an undisputed fact.
I’d like to say that over time, the two of us got to know each other and became friends. That I learned that she was merely a wounded soul, who used her baleful managerial tactics to protect a vulnerable blah, blah and ting…
But sadly, that was not the case. Instead, we managed to stay out of each other’s way until I found another job elsewhere.
Then, years passed.
Eventually, I thought about her less and less.
Every time I observed someone’s class.
And every time someone came to my office with a question.
And whenever I hired someone with the right credentials, but no classroom experience.
I would remember how terrifying that first semester was, and how her behavior towards me made it even more awful.
Well, imagine my surprise when I heard that she had died.
Because I realized then that as much as I hated to admit it, that woman shaped me into the educator I am today. Because of her, I was careful to always be compassionate with brand new instructors, to remember what it felt like to be “green “.
I realized that she was ever present in my teaching and coaching philosophy.
I realized that because of that one horrific year with her, I can handle just about anyone .
I don’t know how or why she died.
But after all these years, I do hope she didn’t suffer. I hope she is at peace.
And that she knows that I hold no grudges.
And she sees that I did learn from her after all.