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The Joys of Substitute Teaching(?)

When I graduated from college(eons ago), it was December and there weren’t very many teaching positions available.  I was an Elementary Education(K-8) with a German minor. I signed up for substituting at all of the local school districts and pretty soon was subbing most of the time.

I loved being with the younger children because they hadn’t learned all of the “driving substitute teachers crazy” tricks yet.  The worst they would do would possibly switch seats or say they hadn’t gotten that assignment, etc.  There would always be one righteous little soul in the front who would shake their head furiously, wave their hand and say, “don’t you believe them.”  Many times a younger child would find their older sibling and find out if they had had me before…I could hear many times, “oh, don’t worry about her, she’s nice.”

Having long term assignments were nice but few and far inbetween.  I had a few of approximately a week long and one longer than was anticipated.

It was nearing the end of the school year.  The teacher of the class I had been sent to was ill(I later found out she had had a nervous breakdown).  This was a small school with 6 classrooms(K-5).  This was before all of the local elementary schools were consolidated into one building.  Grade 3.  Usually not a difficult age group for me.  Usually.

The room was chaotic…lesson plans were spotty with little to no information and often times not even what the children were learning/had learned.  There had been some instances that month where a few children had been destructive and disruptive with their parents being notified.

It took me almost a week to determine where they were at and to start writing lesson plans.  I was hopeful that once I instilled some order in the  daily schedule, the children would respond.  Some did.  I ended up being hoarse by week’s end and my voice would return by Monday.

After being there for a month, I received a phone call from the district office that the teacher would be returning Monday(there were two weeks left of school at that point) and I would be relieved of that assignment.

That Friday before dismissal, I told the children that their teacher was returning on Monday and that a note was coming home to tell their parents.  I also told them I was proud of how most of them had improved over the past  month and that I hoped they would continue for the rest of the year.  I tidied up the room, left the lesson plans and a note, said goodbye to the rest of the staff and went home.

Monday morning arrives.  Up at 6 as usual to wait for any substitute calls.  Nothing.  9 am the phone rings.  The teacher had returned but left after 1/2 hour.  Would I go there immediately.

I drive over to the school…not expecting to see my entire class…OUTSIDE the building with absolutely no supervision…waiting for me…laughing.  As I came  towards them, they ran towards me, “We were waiting for you !  Are you surprised?!  We knew you would be back!”

We all went into the classroom together and you know, they were the model classroom for the rest of the school year(two weeks).

til next time…Eva

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The Bridal Shop

During my work life, I have done many different jobs.  Being a baker’s kid, my first job was in the bakery cleaning the trays and the pots and pans.  Then as I got older, I would help my mother with the sales…packing orders at first and later waiting on customers, slicing bread on the bread machine(that was a scary piece of equipment, trust me) and using the cash register.  All during High School I was expected to work on Saturdays from 8-1 and then I was left go for the afternoon to meet my girlfriend. I continued to work in the bakery during my college years.

After college, (I was an Education major), I did substitute teaching and continued to work in the bakery.  After a year of subbing and not able to get a full time position, I took a sales position at Junior/Fashion Colony up at the local mall and stayed for a year before taking a position for sales in a bridal shop downtown.  (that year in the mall was an experience I will never forget nor wish to repeat.)

The bridal shop was a family owned company…a husband and wife team.  She was in charge of the store itself…there were 5 of us who were the bridal consultants and two seamstresses for the alterations.  I learned a lot about the bridal business while being there that still is helping me today with my Etsy shop.  The husband was in charge of picking up the gowns every week in NYC and checking out new and unusual gowns. They both had impeccable taste.  The shop also had other clothing as well.  We were responsible for all facets of our bridal sales…and the bride.  The bride’s  gown, her attendants, mother, etc.  When the gowns came in and were altered, we were responsible for the pressing of the gowns before they were picked up(that took hours!)

Some of the brides were complete treasures…one I remember was a lovely woman in her 50s.  She and her fiancé had been engaged for 30 years.  They had not married nor lived together because their mothers hated each other.  After the one mother passed on, the other one gave them her blessing at last and they were planning their quiet wedding.  The bride had an antique cameo that she wanted to wear on her gown so that set the tone for something vintage looking.  I found a tea length ivory lace dress with matching hat that fit her perfectly but she was concerned about the price of it($500..which today would probably be $1500).  She asked if I would hold it while she talked with her fiancé.  She called an hour later saying he had told that they had waited for 30 years for this day and he wanted her to have the dress of her dreams.  The day she came to pick her dress and hat up, she had stars in her eyes.

Another special bride was in the military.  Her wedding was in three years(trust me when I tell you that the brides who have that long of a time to think about their weddings change their minds so many times!)  At Christmas, she came to try her gown on and had her fiancé there so he could see it.  Six months later, I received a payment for her gown with a note in it that she was not engaged to him anymore but she still wanted the gown.  Later, another payment, another note…engaged to someone else.  Final payment, final note…address to send gown…not engaged to that man anymore but still getting married on that date to fiancé number 3!

If business were slow, as it sometimes was, there was always something to do.  Every week the two show windows were changed.  All of the clothing had to be steamed before being placed in the window.  We also were responsible for making up various complete outfits to hang throughout the store.  I loved it when the men would come in looking for a gift for their wives…grasping at straws, they would look at an outfit hanging up and say, “I like it.  My wife would look nice in that ”  I would ask, “what size does your wife wear?”  Most of them had no clue and would look around at all of us and finally pick one and say, “she looks like the size of that lady.”  I would find out what my coworker’s size was and would pack up the desired clothing.  Invariably, two days later the man’s wife would come back with the clothing, saying, “I can’t believe he thought I was this size!”  Most times though, they still wanted the same clothing he had picked.

Other slow days were cleaning days…we all hated those days!  Sometimes I would have to clean the boss’s car!  We were also responsible every morning for cleaning the sidewalk…sweeping it.  Then there would be inventory days…

keeping track of all of the gowns, hats, accessories was a daunting task.

I worked 3 years there and when I left, they begged  me to stay on as a manager.  Those were definitely learning years…all of the lace names, the gown styles, and the love for the bridal fashion that has stayed with me still.

til next time, Eva

Next Window Please…

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I worked for several banks for around 15 years in several capacities…teller and training officer.  I also did photography, various newsletters(before computer days…) as well as helping out in the HR department as needed.

I started out as a teller in a local branch.  This was in the 1980s and there was no use of computers then…we had adding machines to guide us in balancing at the end of the day(I must add that these adding machines were the old kind…the really old kind…big and bulky).  Balancing at the end of the day was always nerve rending.  Being over or short gave me many a sleepless night by mentally going over all of the transactions and customers of the day.  Being over or short would go on your record…and could mean a reprimand, probation, or being transferred elsewhere or left go.

We had a proof machine area out back and sometimes the two who did that would find your mistakes before you balanced(always appreciated, believe me…we treated those two well!).

The big priority back then was customer service…when the phone rang, it HAD to be answered by the third ring.  Customers were NOT kept waiting in any line without an explanation.  If the line were  long on a busy day, there would be an express line for people who just had a check to cash or a simple deposit.

We weren’t expected to do sales like they are expected to do now…our jobs were to provide “exceptional customer service.”  Drive up tellers were expected to give speedy service…complicated  transactions weren’t permitted at the drive up.

Being a teller meant standing on your feet for 8 hours a day basically in one spot.  I remember well my first purchase was a foot vibrator/soaker.

I chuckle now at some of the experiences I had:

a. The customers who reeked…whether of alcohol, perfume, uncleanliness…after they left, the Lysol spray was sprayed liberally all over the counters.

b. The customer who wouldn’t leave because of long winded conversations or flirting…another teller would come and tell you there was a phone call for you…just to get you off the hook.

c. The incident at the drive up…I was fairly new then and a man came to the drive up, sent in his transaction.  I completed it and sent it out.  Not what he wanted.  He sent it back in.  I did it differently.  Sent it out.  Not what he wanted.  Sent back in.  At this point, I was besides myself and the other tellers couldn’t help.  I looked out the drive up window…his car was there but he wasen’t in it…next thing I know, he came screaming into the branch saying how incompetent I was.  The manager got a hold of him and got the transaction….later came over to me and said I had done the right thing because the customer haden’t given me the entire transaction in the first place!

d. The drive up customer who did lewd gestures.  The manager told him he was no longer permitted at our branch.

e. There was one guy who I knew somewhat from square dancing classes.  He never left me alone and I wouldn’t dance with him.  Well, he found out where I worked.  I saw him coming in with his mother one day and since I didn’t have a customer, I ducked under my counter…went behind the waste can.  My neighbor teller waited on them and when he asked where I was, she replied, “oh, she is out back.”  After they left, she asked the drive up teller(who was directly behind me) where I was…she giggled and pointed behind the trash can.  “What are  you doing there?”  “I couldn’t bear to wait on them.”  “Why, I think he’s cute.”  “Well, good for you…I don’t.”

If there were a customer who had previously given us a hard time and we didn’t want to wait on them, someone else did.  The theory was that if you got rattled, there was a strong possibility that you wouldn’t balance that day.

One bank I worked for briefly only had the drive up open on a Saturday…there would only be one teller there and if it were your turn, you would be there alone and responsible to open up, open the safe and then close up afterwards.  I hated when it was my turn for that.

It’s 16 years since I’ve worked in a bank and believe me, I would not go back.  I use my vintage “next window please” sign on my bedroom window…for any burglers who might have the wrong idea!

til next time…Eva