“Why are you here? Just go. Change to another class.”
“He won’t even let us go to the bathroom.”
“Your writing is boring. It puts me to sleep.”
“If you leave early again, I’ll call the police.”
“You have no chance in here. I will fail you.”
I couldn’t believe these false accusations against me. I sat in the HR director’s office with the dean and associate dean; this wasn’t happening. I was just in this office a year ago for some other BS!
“Your students don’t want you back in the class,” the associate dean told me.
I sat there dumbfounded, my backpack and school bag beside me on the floor in the spacious office. The associate dean bum-rushed me as soon as I walked in the door this morning. “We have a meeting with the dean and the HR director in ten minutes. It’s bad. Bring your bags and all your stuff. Leave your gradebook.”
That could only mean one thing: I would not be going back to my office. I would not be coming back to my job. Why? What had I done?
Like the paranoid fool I am, I began frantically thinking about anything illegal that I had done. I hadn’t picked a fight with anyone. I hadn’t molested any students. What did I do that was so bad??
The dean and her associate walked me to the HR building; we walked in single file. I was last. The long walk. I had just watched a documentary the other day about life on death row.
The dean decided to have mercy on me. The next logical step was for me to get a week’s leave without pay — a method that the college uses to get rid of people since termination paperwork is too time consuming. However, she suggested that I receive yet another written warning instead.
Plus, I got pulled from the class. I would now be doing lowly tutoring work with the educated rejects in the writing center who languished away for minimum wage. At least I could keep my other two classes: the ones I actually liked. The one I got pulled from was an ESL class full of rich, spoiled international students lucky enough to make it to a U.S. college. A lot of them had powerful fathers who knew how to pull strings for their kids back home.
I got back to my office. My colleague and good friend, Rebecca, a Spanish professor, was sobbing in the next office as she packed all her books and knick-knacks in boxes. “So today is your last day?” I said.
“Yep.” She fell apart again. I had never seen her pretty blue eyes so red, puffy, and full of tears. Oh, what I wouldn’t do for such a loving soul as Rebecca.
The new dean and her associate don’t like Rebecca for reasons unknown. We don’t know why because Rebecca is one of the most respected, sincere, hardworking faculty members at the college. The new deans are essentially putting her out to pasture at some rinky-dink satellite campus ten miles away.
Rebecca is a good, faithful Methodist. Even though our Christian traditions vary somewhat, we always found common ground on the essentials of the faith.
She was only given one week’s notice about being “shipped down the river.” I wanted desperately to give her some sort of memento. Not a Starbucks mug or anything ordinary and cheesy. All I could think of was my Divine Mercy prayer card that I kept in my wallet.
I didn’t want to see her open my petty gift in the envelope that I made with a piece of printer paper stapled along both sides.
She told me later that it was the most thoughtful gift that she had received in her short time at the college. In my note that I included with the card, I tried to encourage her with Romans 8:28 which says:
God works for the good of those who love Him.
Rebecca probably had no idea what the Divine Mercy chaplet was. It didn’t matter. On the front, underneath the picture of Christ, are these five words:
Jesus, I trust in you.
“At least I’m not the only one having a terrible day,” Rebecca joked between sobs after I told her about my third written warning in two years.
She initiated a hug right before leaving her office for good. I was nervous because Rebecca is very attractive. Anyway, we hugged, and I’m glad we did because she’s my friend and I’ll miss her greatly.