Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nana Swims in a Small Pool

Lost in the crowd

It is hard to be anonymous in a small town. While it is nice to know our neighbors and feel a sense of community, there are definitely times that I wish I could go unnoticed.

For eight years I served as the vice principal at our local high school. I left that job six years ago when I was promoted to a position at the central office. Now that I am retired from the school district, I occasionally substitute back at the high school. The students who knew me as assistant principal are long gone, but around town I am still occasionally recognized. There was a time that I couldn’t go through the drive through at McDonald’s without being recognized. I was known by name at most fast food establishments, not because I was a frequent customer, but because many of the workers attended the high school. It always made me nervous, wondering if I had sentenced some fast food worker to detention and if they were exacting revenge by spitting in my food.

I had gastric bypass surgery the last year I was at the high school. Over the course of the school year I lost about 100 pounds. Recently my husband and I were eating dinner in a local Mexican restaurant. The waitress asked me “Didn’t you used to work at the high school?” I told her that I did and asked her when she had graduated. She shared a little about what she had been doing since leaving high school and then said “I thought it was you, but didn’t you used to be fat?”

Being a public figure in a small town presents some challenges. I used to be a little uneasy taking my pop and beer bottles back to the local Safeway where it might be one of my students counting the mountain of beer bottles accumulated since my last visit. I could hear the talk in the hall at school. “Yeah, Mrs. T brought her beer bottles back on Saturday. She had $12.00 in beer bottle deposits!” I’ve known fellow teachers who made all their alcohol purchases out of town. There are certain drug store purchases that you wouldn't want to make locally if you live in a small town. Imagine parent teacher conferences and facing the parent who was the checker at Rite-Aid when you bought those fancy colored condoms…or even worse, the little blue pills!

A former band teacher at the high school had the best story about his run in with students outside of school. He had scheduled sick leave to have that test that we all hate…the colonoscopy. He checked into the local hospital early in the morning and was prepped, gowned up and wheeled into the exam room. Imagine his surprise when a group of students were led through the room. They were excited to see him and all chimed in “Hi, Mr. P.” He had chosen Career Day to schedule his test and hordes of his students were touring the facility.

Retirement has given me some anonymity and it’s safe to drive through McDonald’s. Now that I’m not employed I don’t have to be a role model and I can return all the beer bottles at once. I could even have a beer at lunch…too bad I don’t drink!


  1. Oh,,, The Band Teacher had/has me rolling. Great Post.

    Elegant, Simple, and Great!!!!

  2. ...all true!

    HHS students Job Shadow Day "observing" in the hospital...good kids! Nice to recall this funny day!

    Nana looks fabulous after dropping 100+ pounds...

    Nope...she doesn't drink...I drink red wine, she drinks a slurpy...go figure!

  3. Interesting! Losing 100 pounds is an amazing feat, even with that surgery it was a real accomplishment. I'll bet you feel a whole lot better now, huh? Do you still have to diet?

  4. So funny. I can relate. There is no anonymity for long serving educators in a small town.

    Congrats on the weight loss.

  5. I was always amazed that my teachers had actual lives outside of school.

  6. Oh, this is too funny! I used to live in a small town too, so this really took me back. Everyone noticed where your car was parked and knew what you bought at the stores, and I suspect my next door neighbor peeked into my garbage. Even the post office workers, when curious about a package, would suddenly feel the need to do a "postal inspection". LOL I miss the people, but not the lack of privacy.

  7. I know what you mean....almost everywhere I go I see kids and they they point and say.....she teaches at my school! Can't wait to retire!

  8. This explains why most teachers live a long drive from school. Wow 100 lbs. well done.

  9. That poor band teacher. I loved the "Didn't you used to be fat?" comment. I always really enjoy your stories, and this one in particular because I got to learn more about parts of your life that are new to me.


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