I am not a morning person. This year I have to not be a morning person for an extra hour, as I’ve crossed over from an elementary school setting to a middle school. Kids have to be up and functioning and ready to attend in a classroom by 7:30am.

This means I have to be on the premises and functioning by at LEAST 7:20am. By this time I have to have survived waking up a preteen and a sixteen year old and gotten them off to school safely, in one piece, with preferably 2 matching shoes and a backpack. Which backpack they end up with is neither here nor there. And I’m sure one day in the near future the wrong one will show up to band with a sax, and the other with the trumpet. Both in the wrong hands.

So this morning was particularly strange. I woke up and started my routine a little early. I got myself going and still managed to run late. My son chose the ‘bitchy morning mom alarm clock’ and left himself ten minutes to get out the door.

Since I opted to make my lunch instead of eating breakfast, I drove to McDonald’s to pick up my mobile order. One item was left out of my bag … we dont need to discuss how I knew it was missing as soon as I grabbed the bag. Anyway, judgy judgerson, I let the kind lady in the window know I was missing my hash brown and she skeptically looked at the McMonitor and let me know I hadn’t ordered a hash brown. As if. What monster can go to McDonald’s in the morning and NOT get a hash brown? This isn’t really an option. I flashed my phone screen showing the itemized logical human order of a breakfast sandwich, iced coffee, and hash brown. She informed her McManager. McManager tells me, “It’s not on the order here.” As if that would sway me.

I usually listen to the Universe. I do. But at 6:55am on an empty stomach and 2 kids off to school under my belt, I deserved that golden hash brown crunch to fill me with satisfaction and human validation. Again, I flash my itemized phone order. McManger inspected my whole DOLLAR item and decided to toss the crispy carb into my bag.

I drive to work, park, pull the fiber now stuck in my molar out of my mouth and firmly place denial where it belongs. If I thought too much about what seemed like a hair that was stuck in my tooth after eating drive through breakfast, I might lose that $10 breakfast all over the school parking lot. It must’ve been a stringy part of the potato. Those pesky fibrous root vegetables!

I grab my coffee and denial and head to the front doors of the school where kids are filing in half asleep and plugged in. There is a morning greeter most days and he had a white board easel set up with a perky optimistic greeting for everyone. He cheerfully told me, “There’s a choice today, which door is it?”

I read the question asking which superpower you would choose, ‘this’ or ‘that’. Pick the corresponding door to enter through.

I walked to the break room, robotically slid my lunchbox into the fridge and a man walks in and greets me. … again. I swear I just saw this person out front. The teacher attempts to engage in morning small talk – Not an Olympic sport I excel at – and I sleepily return the greeting. To alleviate the small talk awkwardness, I ask, “So which door did you choose?” He looks at me puzzled. “You know, the ‘choose which answer and go through the door’ question .. ” He uncomfortably chuckles, continues to look puzzled, mumbles a few words that make zero sense referencing my question and starts moving to the coffee maker a lot faster. Presumably to escape the crazy lady who is obviously speaking gibberish to him. (Me) Not one for uncomfortable social situations, I did what any introvert does and I mumbled a goodbye finally found a bit of carb-induced energy and fled the scene.

I spent all of first period obsessing over the ridiculous mix up in the breakroom. We have two male staff members that look bizarrely alike. I had just mixed them up. I could not get past the idea of what I did to this guy. Some random new coworker whose name I didn’t know walking up to me and asking “which door did you walk through?” with zero reference. This poor guy must think I am a nut job.

Second period didn’t go much better. A student trying to ‘flex’ told a horribly racist joke to some other kids. As is the usual case, a couple of the kids awkwardly looked at me. The teacher was not nearby and as a support staff member, this falls under the gray area of when/where/how I’m supposed to get involved.

Interpreters are essentially supposed to be invisible. But not. Accessible, but invisible. It’s a delicate dance.

I was so uncomfortable and frankly shocked this little shit thought it didn’t matter that an adult was sitting 10 feet from him and said adult’s whole job is to relay any voiced expressions to my student. My ears work pretty well, my dude. While the teacher showed a short video, the same student was being a distraction, so I used the opportunity to quietly stand beside his desk. As the video ended, I quietly leaned down so we were eye to eye, and I told him in my most casually unaffected voice, “If I ever hear you tell a joke like that again, we will go find a(n) [insert offended race] classmate and we’ll see how comfortable you are telling them the joke.”

He tried to shrink down under his desk and agree with me. He never apologized, but he was rightfully embarrassed.

The day was pretty innocuous after that. Thankfully.

I’m hoping tomorrow is much more uninteresting, far less offensive, and altogether delightful. And I will never try and make small talk before 9am to a staff member whose name and location I am not sure of ever again.

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