The Curse of the Sub

Oh, Readers.
The purpose of this blog has always been to take the often silly and ridiculous things I experience in my life, and to share them with you. Occasionally life throws something your way, and it’s either laugh or cry, and I have always tried to be the type that laughs at the stupid or embarrassing things that happen to me (or that I do, more like it).
Well let me just say, my life has been CHOCK FULL of the absurd lately. As you all may know, my post-graduate job hunt has been going… poorly, to say the least. I finally decided to try subbing, because I live right by a lot of the schools in the district, and THEY CAN’T TURN ME DOWN. It’s also a great part time gig that doesn’t require you to have a set schedule. After I went through the steps to become a sub, though, naturally I finally got a call back from a job I applied to.
However, I hadn’t even been able to write up the post about what a disastrous experience my one and only job interview was (don’t worry, it’s coming though! UPDATE: Here it is!) before I got approved to be a sub yesterday and decided to take a position today in a desperate attempt to get at least one day of work on the upcoming pay cycle– because subs only get paid once a month, and it’s for the month before.
poor gif

For me, getting approved to sub took way longer than it should have. You have to have copies of your Social Security card, and I discovered when I went to sub training that my parents apparently lost mine years ago and never replaced it, because that’s DEFINITELY not something you’ll ever need.

Thanks Mom and Dad!

I therefore had to go to the Social Security office (an adventure in and of itself) and request a new one, which didn’t come until Monday. Then I had to take my papers to the administration office, wait for my $59 (!!!!) background check to come through (which my parents had to pay for because I literally did not have enough money in my account), AND to be put into the system officially before I was able to sub.
Last night I finally got an automated call that told me I was in, and so I decided to take a look at the available jobs to see if there were any I wanted. The way subbing works is that teachers throughout the district put in a request for a sub on a website, and available subs can look through and decide if they want to take them. The nice thing about subbing is that you never have to accept anything; you can have a day off any time you need it without having to request off or anything like that.
I looked through all the available jobs, and saw one that was to sub in Spanish at the high school–the same high school I attended, mind you. I minored in Spanish, and so I thought, hey, why not!

I love this joke so much, thanks college education.

This morning I arrived bright and early at my former high school, because you need to be there at least twenty minutes before the first bell rings. I also needed to get there extra early because they have rebuilt the majority of my high school since I attended it. It is now giant, fancy, and terrifying. The new cafeteria looks like it should have been in High School Musical, I swear to god.
Eventually I wandered my way to something called the freshmen office, which did not exist when I was in high school. In fact, when I was in ninth grade, we were in our own separate building, which has now been turned into a fifth and sixth grade center (I don’t even know guys, it’s bizarre).
I checked in without too much problem, got my little sub sheet, and then a kindly teacher led me to my room since I had no idea where to find it. In a disorienting twist of fate, I was actually subbing in an old part of the building that had existed (and where I had Spanish) when I was in school, but was now connected to buildings that did not exist when I was in school. Along the way I saw my 8th grade math teacher in the hall and said hi, which was pretty strange.
Luckily, my teacher I was subbing for was super prepared, and had written everything the kids would need to do on the board, as well as leaving detailed instructions for me of what I needed to do. Mostly I would be taking attendance and giving kids extra packets if they had forgotten their workbooks, and just ensuring no mayhem ensued. I wrote my name on the board, which was absolutely surreal, since my mother has been a teacher my entire life, and she is the undisputed Mrs. Rowe in my mind.

You cannot understand how wrong this felt.

You cannot understand how wrong this felt.

My first period class came in, and naturally it was a huge class that really liked to talk. Trying to be a good sub, I took attendance right away and then sent a student to the office with it. I got them started on their assignments and told them that it was my first time subbing so they had to take it easy on me (that was a mistake). They took this to mean that they could chat as much as they want, and I got tired of getting onto them after a while so I just let them. So I got everything sorted, aaaaand… then I did nothing.
Seriously. There was like nothing for me to do. As I would come to realize throughout the day, subbing is both simultaneously incredibly stressful and incredibly boring. This boredom led me to messing about endlessly with things on my desk, and I ended up taking a minute to actually read my sub info– and what did I see but a note about how you are NOT supposed to send kids to the office with attendance because someone will come from it.
Oh, fantastic.
Not even an hour in, and I’ve already messed something up.

Just swell.

Just swell.

Even better, a student that I had turned in as absent ended up coming late, so I just had to hope he had checked into the office. A girl came in to pick up my attendance, and I had to tell her I’d already sent it. She looked at me like I was an idiot, a very lowering feeling. Yeah, okay, girl who is eight years younger than me, I get it. I messed up. Whatevs.
So I was off to a rocky start, but I was resolved to do better second period. Practice makes perfect right? So my second group came in, and, blessedly, they were perfect. Sat down, got right to work, and were very quiet. I made sure I took attendance, and did NOT send it with anyone. I also wrote a note on the back apologizing for sending first hour’s attendance with a student, and making sure they knew the student I had marked absent actually had showed up. I had no problems with these kids, which made me even more bored. I had already looked at every poster in the room and messed with every available thing on my desk, and I felt like a creep just staring at the kids.

“hey kids don’t do drugs, also don’t get an English degree or you’ll end up subbing in your old high school”

Finally I gave in and looked at my phone. It was my turn on a game of Words with Friends, so I played that–and of course, a video ad came on after, blaring loudly into the quiet room. My class just looked at me like I was such a loser–again, a very lowering feeling. Whatever, kids. I make 60 bucks for doing this, and you chumps are doing it for FREE. Suckas.
After second period, I had lunch time. That means I was supposed to eat lunch at ten thirty. TEN THIRTY. For almost every day of the past ten months, I haven’t even been awake by ten thirty, how am I supposed to eat my lunch now?! During sub training they told us we weren’t supposed to really go off campus during our lunch, but I didn’t know what the procedure was if we were eating at the school and I was too scared to brave the High School Musical cafeteria by myself.
So I found my way back to the freshmen office to ask what to do. The moment I walked in, the student office aide took one look at me and goes, “Ohhh, don’t you look adorable?!”

That’s better, eight years younger than me kid. I have hope for your generation yet. I spoke with secretary, who informed me that I was actually more than welcome to go off campus to grab lunch, as long as I was back in time. I hurried over to the nearest Subway, thinking I would just get myself a sandwich and save it to eat later. Luckily there was no line, and I made it back with about five or ten minutes to spare.
My third period class appeared soon after, and I took roll. They started out very talkative, and one kid asked out loud what “cansado” meant. Oh yesss, here was my chance to show off my skills. “TIRED!” I almost shouted, excited because I knew the answer. Also, because I was feeling it very strongly.
The kids were impressed, naturally, and somebody goes, “Whoa, she speaks Spanish!”
“Oh I have a minor in Spanish, actually,” I told them impressively. “So you can totally ask me if you have questions, and I might be able to help you.”

There’s a 30-40% chance I can actually assist you!

They settled down pretty quickly, and did their work quietly, so I thought it was going to be another nice, easy class. Unfortunately, that was not to be, and I ended up having to threaten to send a kid to the office. It felt very strange, I just kept thinking in my head I don’t really have the authority to send someone to the office though, surely? Luckily I didn’t actually have to resort to such drastic measures. I guess my intimidating face was pretty impressive.
The hour after that was my planning hour, so I went and visited my 8th grade Spanish teacher since her room was right by mine, and along the way I found my sophomore math teacher’s room as well, so I chatted with them. It was quite the blast from the past, especially since my former middle school Spanish teacher was now at the high school in the old room where I had Spanish in high school. I finally was feeling hungry, so I ate my Subway sandwich. It tasted slightly strange after sitting out for awhile, but I had little other choice.
Fifth period showed up, and kids started filtering in. One student came in and goes, “Wait, you can’t be our sub. How old are you? You’re not old enough to be a sub!” I assured her that I was 22, and, in fact, more than old enough to be the sub. “Oh you look like a teenager!” she said disbelievingly. WELL YEAH YOU KNOW WHAT, SO DO YOU OKAY.  If I’m being entirely truthful, however, I was surprised it took that long for a student to say it.
After the bell rang, I started taking roll. Halfway through, however, they came over the intercom to announce the winners of a week long fundraising contest between the different grades. My class was made up of freshmen, and they let out a deafening cheer when it was announced that they had won, and were to report to the auditorium for a reward assembly. I had to yell them down in order to finish taking roll. I was almost as equally excited as they were, because it meant that I had an unexpected free hour.


Now, you may be saying to yourself, okay, that stuff you’ve told us so far is kind of embarrassing, Sara, but that’s nothing SERIOUS. I mean, after the cheesecake pizza story or getting lost and missing your friend’s wedding, a mix up in attendance is negligible. And beginning of fifth period Sara would have agreed with you– I was actually mildly surprised at how relatively normal things were going. But as fifth period wore on, I began to feel slightly unwell. My stomach started getting wonkier by the minute, and finally I felt the urge to go to the restroom in fear I was going to lose my lunch.
I didn’t throw up, so I washed my face and neck with cool water to try and help. I went back to my room for the start of sixth period, and sat for awhile before I realized that the assembly must last two hours, and I would have another free period.
I wanted to be excited, but I was not feeling so hot.

It felt a little like this, except instead of the stocks I fell into tummy upset.

I was feeling progressively worse and worse, and when I finally ran for the bathroom, this time my lunch made its unwelcome reappearance.  I started shivering soon after and felt hot and cold, and I realized that I was more than likely not going to be able to cover my final seventh period class. I wasn’t sure what to do so I tried to call my sister (she’s going to be a teacher and has subbed before) so I could ask her what to do. She didn’t answer, however, and I remembered she was taking our dog to the vet. So finally, unsure but feeling even worse, I made the long trip back to the freshmen office yet again.
Of course, the secretary was speaking with a parent, so she told me to just sit down and wait. And so, trying not to throw up again, I sat down and waited for five or ten minutes while she finished with the parent. She then called me forward, looked at me, and then goes, “Ohh, you’re the sub! I’m sorry, I thought you were a student!”
After embarrassingly explaining the situation, the secretary attempted to call a few people to see if they could cover the class. Finally she told me, “Just go on home, hon. You can’t sub if you’re throwing up.” In a fluster of shame and nausea, I rushed back to the classroom, collected my things, and drove my way home, where I fell into bed and slept about four hours.

So there you have it, Dear Readers. My first attempt at substituting ended in an episode of suspected food poisoning. I’m guessing that things went south when I let my sandwich sit out for a couple hours before eating it. So… in a ridiculous joke of the universe, my first day of subbing was ruined by none other than Subway. Because, you know, my life is one big cosmic joke.

I’m just going to take this as a sign that I was absolutely right when I decided I was not meant to be a teacher.

6 comments on “The Curse of the Sub

  1. Anonymous says:

    oh goodness Sara… thats a horrible first experience. but i understand the getting pegged younger thing. happens.
    sorry you got sick though! they had a sub for the sub!!! hope youre feeling well

  2. […] to follow with this post right after, but I got busy substitute teaching for the first time– a disastrous experience you can read all about on my other blog if you’d like. A winter storm just hit OKlahoma yesterday, and this outfit is from a week or […]

  3. Julia Ellitt says:

    Sara! I am really enjoying your blog. Keep up the good work lady!

  4. […] Readers. I am finally feeling recovered from my rather unfortunate first experience with subbing, so as promised I am bringing the story of my first and only interview–also a disaster. As I […]

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