Teacher lounges are funny places. I love and hate them, in the same way I love and hate—oh, I don't know. Zoos. Laundromats. Tire stores. Stories are found there, that's fo sho. Lots of stories.I’ve always thought it would be a great project to collect stories from teachers’ lounges across the country, in the same spirit as Humans of New York. The laughter, the anxiety, the therapy, the human connections. The friendship and awkward silences. The way substitutes are treated. The coffee pot, the toaster, the random Sweet-and-Low envelopes mixed in with salt packets. There is a disgusting microwave, mismatched plates, random collections of cutlery, cabinets full of random-origin chipped coffee mugs. Hundreds of different chunks of napkins left from hundreds of parent-teacher-conference night dinners.
And the food—oh, the food. All day long, all year long, there are meals, breakfast and lunch and dinner and everything in between. There is a steady stream of leftovers, forgotten tidbits left in the refrigerator to die—expired salad dressings, wilted lettuce, blackblackblack bananas, yogurt with an expiration date of 1992. It isn't atypical for people to bring leftovers from home to share, or bring things they don't want in their cabinets any longer. They drop all kinds of things in the lounge, sometimes pre-announced with an email and sometimes just left on a table for communal consumption. A half sheet cake from a child’s birthday party. A tray of sandwiches from a graduation. A box of Valentine’s chocolates. Last month, someone left an entire case of Shakeology from the BeachBody Diet. I chuckled at that one. Abandoned goals, I guess.