Thursday, March 26, 2009

At the Fair/The Blizzard

When I was going through the job-hunting process last year, I didn't blog about it until it was very much over. I needed to keep it under wraps for a variety of reasons (Howard), so my blogging was silent on that particular story.

Not so this year, since I've made it totally known that I'm looking.

I'm sitting at the biggest teacher job fair in the state right now, in varying states of despair. I came to the same job fair last year - it was here I found STMS. This year is rather different. For example, the biggest district in the state withdrew from the fair because they instituted a hiring freeze. The next three possibilities nicely took my resume packet, but they said they were only going to

You see that part where I stopped typing? That's when an official got on the P.A. system and announced that the University was closing at 12:30 due to the weather. Turns out the snow that had started to fall lightly when I arrived at the fair (at 6:20 in the morning) had turned into a full-blown blizzard that shut down schools and the airport across the metro area.

I shut my laptop, bid farewell to one of my STMS friends who was here recruiting for the elementary school, and headed out into the storm.

Driving was a nightmare. I made it onto the highway near the school, but it was white-out conditions with ice packed on the roads. I pulled off at the next exit, intending to make my way back to the hotel where I had spent the night. Instead, I took a wrong turn and got rather lost. As I finally navigated my way back to a recognizable starting point, my car slid off the road and slammed into a curb. Whrrr. Whrrr. Yup - stuck.

I got out of the car and remembered that I had taken the emergency shovel and cat litter out of my trunk to make room for the boxes I was moving out of my classroom. I had 12 clocks and a copy of the OED in my trunk, but nothing that would help me get unstuck.

I grabbed a windshield scraper and started hacking away at the ice under my tire. Ice and pieces of the scraper flew around me, and I got back in my car and tried again. Nope.

Just then, this man appeared in my rearview mirror. "Put it in reverse!" he hollered through the blowing snow. I did so. He pushed and gave me directions and we rocked the car back and forth. A second guy appeared yelling, "You need some help?" even as he started to push on the other side. By the time a third stranger stopped, they had gotten me and my car away from the curb and back in motion.

I felt horrible I couldn't stop and thank them properly, since I was merging into traffic at the time. I yelled, "Thank you!" as often as I could while waving out my window.

Ah can always depend on the kindness of strangers!

I crawled my way back to the Super 8 hotel, and managed to book the very last hotel room available in the area. At first, the clerk said it would be a smoking room; but when I got to the front desk, he realized I had stayed with them the night before and gave me the exact same room again. Once again a boost to my faith in humanity!

So, I hauled my stuff up to the room, called the people who would probably worry about me and then called and ordered a pizza. It was about 1:45 by then, and I hadn't eaten anything aside from the granola bar I had for breakfast.

The pizza came about 90 minutes later, and I settled in for a night in the hotel.

Here's the view from my window at about 5:00pm:
Stuck in Greeley

I'm back at the job fair now. I figured as long as I was stuck here another night, I might as well take advantage of it and try to find some more possibilities. I've walked the aisles a few times, but a lot of districts didn't come back today, including the two others I had interviews with yesterday. I am sticking with optimism and looked at all of the schools that probably wouldn't require me to move. Again, slim pickings.

I do have an interview set for 11:30 with a district that's about 40 minutes southwest of my house. Not a bad commute, but probably all canyon roads. It's a drama position, but they're salary for my level would be $7000 less than what I'm making this year. A job's a job, though, and I feel like I should stick around for it. If only because it'll hopefully give the roads more time to thaw before I head home.

Oh, and here's a kicker - they closed school early yesterday and all of today. The one time I use a personal day....

At least it's spring break next week. I'm heading out to SLC to work on "Making Waves" (and to play). Wasatch Theater Company wants to do a full production of it, and SLAC wants us to perform it, so we have a lot of work to do. Exciting, though, isn't it? So, if you missed the performance last fall, you'll get a chance to make it up to me! :)

Where was I at the beginning of this long tale? Oh, yeah. The prospects yesterday.

Basically, as in most fields, employment is grim for teachers. I am really (REALLY) glad that I'm doing this as a resident of the state and as an experienced teacher. There are two student-teachers sitting near me right now talking about where they might move to, how it would be great to get an apartment with more than one bedroom, how it "pisses [them] off" when their 8th grade students turn off the lights as they leave the room. "I'm going to write them up on it, seriously. What are they, three?"

Ah, youth. Theirs, I mean, not their students. If only turning off the lights was the worst of my students' misbehavior!

I know that I'm doing the right thing, leaving STMS. I also still believe that Denver is where I'm supposed to be. Despite the lack of opportunities even to interview, I believe I will end up exactly where I am supposed to be next year. Heidi, with her infinite and always timely wisdom, offered me this advice: Think of the absolute last day you can imagine being without a teaching job (I'm trying to make it August 30, but it's really more like August 1). Okay, that's your freak-out date. Anytime you start to panic about not having a job, stop yourself by saying "It's not August 1, so it's not time to freak out yet."

And it's working.

I'll keep you posted.


  1. Thank goodness for kind strangers and pizza delivery!! Cherie, I know you'll find a job that suits you better. I also like Heidi's advice!

    Oh! Please lemme know if you have time for a little get-together next week!! Would be grand to see you!

  2. Why haven't I read your blog sooner?! Kind strangers rule, and so do the right jobs. My panic date is 9/1. Thanks for that - I'd already started to freak out.