Monday, August 8, 2011

My Journey South: Second Monday, August 2006

By the time I left the school that Monday afternoon I was an emotional time bomb waiting to explode. Any adrenaline that had been helping me survive was long since gone and the heat was sapping what little energy I had in reserve and the events of the day didn't help things a whole lot.

I had seen enough of my classroom the night before to know that it would need a thorough cleaning before I could do anything else to prepare for the school year. I arrived at the school early, ready and willing to do whatever necessary to get my room in shape for Wednesday. My well-laid plans were waylaid by the introduction of something into my life known as the "faculty meeting." I spent the rest of the morning being told exactly what I needed to have in my classroom and how it should look, but never actually getting the opportunity to do any work in it. Because I now only had a day and a half to get ready for students, and because my room looked and smelled like it had been the rodent resort of choice for quite some time, I decided to forgo lunch and do some disinfecting. 

[At some point in the day I do enough investigating to find out that the sign-on bonus that I was told I would receive when I arrived wouldn't be ready for about two weeks. This was kind of a big deal because I had been working as a sub for the past four years, barely making enough to pay my bills and not getting paid at all during the summers. Money was tight and that is what I needed to get an apartment, sign up for utilities, and all that other fun stuff you have to pay for when you move.]

I quit working a little before four only because I had to stop by the district office to sign my contract, but before I left I thought I should discuss things with my hostess-to-be. I tracked her down in her office where she was still working out the schedules only to be told that she would be at the school kind of late and thought maybe it would be best if I returned to the hotel for the night. I don't know if was her stress or my imagination that made me think that she would just prefer I not stay with her at all. 

So now I am physically and mentally exhausted, the heat feels like it is sucking every fiber of life out of me, my blood sugar is crashing because I skipped lunch, and I was just told that I am basically homeless...not a bad first day on the job. 

I made to the district office before they all left and went into the human resources office to sign my contract where, of course, she asks how I am adjusting to everything. At that point I completely lose it. I am not just crying, I am literally sobbing. She tries to reassure me with promises that I'll find someplace to live and they won't let me be homeless and they can even give me an advance on my salary by the end of the week. 

I left there feeling slightly better, still shaken up but thinking that she understood. It was after four, I planned to visit a real estate agent, but even if they had something there was no way I could move into someplace that night...surely she wouldn't expect that right? Right?

I went from there to the hotel...the hotel I was told to go back to by the assistant principal, the hotel I could have sworn the human resources manager just told me I could stay at until I had someplace more permanent,  the hotel the school was supposed to have paid for the night before...wait, what do you mean they never took care of the bill? You don't have ANY rooms available? For the second time in less than an hour I was sobbing uncontrollably in front of a complete stranger.  

To anyone with a passing familiarity with Hampton, SC an obvious question would be "Why on earth would their hotel be full?" It turns out that a local company was building a new plant and construction crew was from out of town so during the week they all stayed at the Days Inn. Anyway, I must have looked and sounded pretty pathetic because the manager did some calling around to see if all the reservations would be used and came up with one extra room. However, they also called the human resources office and were told to give me a message, the district would pay for Sunday night and that night but I needed to have a place to live by Tuesday. [The district never did pay for any of it.]

I don't know how my life seemed to fall apart twice since I left the school and it still wasn't five o'clock yet, but I managed to make it to the realty office before they closed. As I sat there explaining that I had just gotten to town the night before and had to find someplace to live, the entire story started spilling out and I became a sobbing mess once again. I never cry in public and for the third time that day I was losing it in front of complete strangers. The realtor's wife (office manager) gave me a hug and let me cry until I was able to regain control. Then, despite all evidence pointing to the fact that I was a complete lunatic, they told me about options, promised to check on some possibilities, and made an appointment to pick me up at the hotel to see some apartments later that night. 

In between all of this I was trying to let my parents know what was going on, but my cell phone wouldn't work. At some point, I don't remember now if it was that night or another, we came to the conclusion that as long as the hotel had a room I would just stay there until I found something permanent, the never knowing from day to day wasn't worth it. 

I made it back to the hotel and crashed for a little while, trying to regain some sense of calm, wondering what I had gotten myself into and if this was really what I was supposed to doing why were things going so poorly. Not long before I was supposed to be picked up, I went to get some things out of my car and noticed that someone had placed a tract on my windshield. I flipped it over to see if it was from a local church and once again started was from a church in North Canton, OH. 

I have already written about my apartment search in an earlier post, The Best Nest, so I won't go into it now. I know this was a long post, but it was a long that still makes me kind of emotional when I think of all that was, all that could have been. 

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