School has started in Mantorville for instructor James Arkham. Although he started out excited about this new job, things haven’t remained his blissful once he began teacher workshops and the first day of school. Arkham continues his narration to psychologist Joshua Symonds.
the no one-is-ever-going-to-help-me-entitle-this horror story
The next two days werenʼt much better, except people knew my name. I didnʼt remember most of theirs; Iʼve always been bad with names (not a good trait each fall in a teacher). Chuck had chosen to rent a cottage in Machen (river towns love to feature waterside tourist stuff, and he, raised in Nebraska, I think, went for it hook, line and sinker), so he and I went our separate ways when each day ended.
I tried to focus on being prepared for that first day of school and my new classes and meeting the kids. I worked in my room, getting a bulletin board all set up, arranging chairs into work areas, getting myself organized on the computer and with textbooks (the school used some really small-time publishers I was unfamiliar with, so I had a lot of reading to do to be ready for classes, too). Periodically a fellow teacher or someone—custodian, secretary—would stop by or ask me to their office for some piece of business, but overall I was just left on my own.
On my own. No other phrase could describe my position at Mantorville High better. They left me out of… everything. Almost from the first, I felt like there was some strange current moving behind the scenes, underneath the conversations—a flow of power I was unable to comprehend. The other teachers were attuned; even Chuck came to seem like the rest as the fall dragged along…
I was the outsider. I was the one who was different, strange. Only Howie seemed possibly as outside as me. Howie. He was also the only one who really tried to talk to me, who got to know me. Was that because he felt as alienated as I did? Or did he just feel sorry for me?
Anyway, I tried to focus on the imminence of school.
But those kids in the classes, they gave me the same feeling. “Outsider.” No one said anything, no one did anything definite, but there was a sensation somehow. Something emanating from them, like determined mistrust. I felt it directed much more strongly at me than Chuck: he gained their acceptance much more easily, perhaps due to his familyʼs local connection. The only ones as ostracized as I felt myself to be were the couple of new kids in the school—six elementary ones I never did know and two high school kids.
Those new kids had my sympathy from the start because just standing in the halls I could see how their peers immediately reacted to them. I had been sensitized by my own experiences with the faculty, but those teenagers kept the new duo at bay with clear and antagonistic behavior. When I pointed that out to Chuck on that first day of school, he just muttered something about in small schools it was difficult to fit in quickly.
They opened the year with an all-school assembly. If there was a point to that assembly, I donʼt remember it.
Now we have almost reached the point where something happens. Thanks for the responses I’ve received lately. I’ve almost run out of text that I’ve written for the story, however. We’ll have to see how soon I can get stuff going. Tomorrow’s Sunday. Let’s see what you get then…