Tomorrow I start a new job. I am nervous and a little worried about arriving on time. I am a very punctual person by nature and hate to be late to anything, maybe I was just well bought up, or maybe I am scared that everybody will talk about me if I’m not there. Paranoia is a great motivator.
Anyway, I have good reason to be apprehensive about my arrival time;
When I got my first teaching post it was in the East End of London. It was not an area I was familiar with. I had lived in South London for nearly a year previously, but anybody who knows London will agree that I might as well have been moving to a different country.
I was so worried about how I would get to work that I set aside a day of half term to practise my route to work (2 minute walk, bus, tube for 4 stops, another bus, 2 minute walk) I made sure I knew which bus numbers I had to get, what time, which underground platform, which bus stops – I was thorough and well prepared.
On my first morning I stood at the correct bus stop, at the correct time, and watched as not one but two buses went straight past the stop, too full to take on any more passengers. I did squeeze onto the third bus, but the knock-on effect meant I was very late for work, arriving just after the children.
I got through that first day (once I had arrived) and finished with a warm feeling of satisfaction having made it to the end, not lost any pupils or made any major gaffes, not collapsing into a heap of uncontrollable tears and snot because I didn’t know what to do – I was a teacher!
I sat in the staff room and lit a celebratory end of the day cigarette. (Don’t judge me, things were different in those days.) As I exhaled Maureen, the Deputy, put her head around the door. She looked directly at me with a glare that I would come to know over the following years, a glare that could reduce grown men to tears – never mind what it did to the children.
I thought she was going to ask how the day went, congratulate me on surviving, and offer some hints or tips to help further my development as a teacher. Yeah right;
“Are you coming back tomorrow?”
Me – “Er yes..”
“Well let someone know what time you think you’re thinking of turning up, it helps.”
I flapped my mouth silently at the empty doorway, then went home and set my alarm an hour earlier.