I Miss the Little Things · 4 April 2020

It might seem strange, but I miss being at work. Yes, I miss my students. Immensely. But I never really thought about all the little things I miss.

The big things I miss about working in a school are obvious. Interacting with students. Seeing them act like zombies in the halls. (Okay, I do not really miss seeing them walk through the halls like zombies until their coffee kicks in. I know. It is a strange thing seeing coffee addicts at 14. When I was a kid, I remember adults telling us that coffee would stunt our growth. Oh how times have changed.) Still, I obviously miss the students and the interactions we have each day. Whether those interactions are short, long, about school (maybe even about the subjects that I teach), or even not about school. Those interactions are important, and I miss them. I miss the students.

I also miss my colleagues. Especially, the interactions I have with them. Social interactions, work interactions, just catching up interactions. All those interactions are what make work so enjoyable. The thing is, I have always known that I love my job because of all the interactions between myself and students and colleagues. I just never realized how much I miss the small stuff. Some of the seemingly insignificant interactions.

I guess it is like many things. We do not miss them until they are gone.

Most of the little interactions I miss have to do with people and their daily rhythms. They get coffee or water or use the restroom nearly the same time every day. This is even more pronounced when your life is run by a bell. Ring. Time to go to class. Ring. Time to go to the bathroom. Ring. Time to hurry back to the classroom before all the students get there and start a riot that nobody ever anticipated because students cannot behave for more than a couple seconds without somebody in charge telling them what to do. Okay. Not really on the last one. At least not where I work. But the points is that there is certainly a rhythm to what people do.

I know plenty of people’s rhythms because I usually stand out in the hallway between classes and watch. (Not in a creepy way.) Which brings me back to the little interactions I miss.

When I stand out in the hallway watching students and teachers go by, I miss saying hello to them all. Rather, to students greet me or who at least make eye contact. (I really find it difficult not to say something when somebody makes eye contact.)

“Good morning.”
“Nice sneakers.”
“I love your hair.”

It is amazing what a couple words can do to lift people up. Even just saying, “Hello.”

It is also amazing watching people who do not want to make eye contact. There are those who lower their eyes. There are those who talk to their friends. There are those who turn to look at the wall as they walk by just to avoid making eye contact. And those are just the people I have worked with for years. Okay. Not completely true. My colleagues all usually make eye contact. (Or at least they did before I wrote this.) I miss those short interactions. Just a couple words and a smile. Or maybe even just a nod.

I also miss the repeated interactions with my colleagues.

D: “I know how long it takes to get back to my room.”
A: “I gotta run.”
C: “I just had to get something out of her room. I’m not stealing!”

But it is not only the words that are fun. It is the smiles and the routine. It is the knowing glances. It is the nuance of language and expression and understanding that come from years of developing a relationship. The quick smile that says, “I know I’m late.” The twinkle in the eyes that says, “The coffee just kicked in.” The shake of the head that says, “You do not want to know.” I miss those things too.

One of the most important little things I miss is actually what I thought about when I decided to write this. I miss lunch with my colleagues. Do not get me wrong. I enjoy having lunch with my wife. I cherish that time. Still, I miss the interaction with peers that does not involve talking about students.

“I heard that movie was great!”
“Don’t waste your time on it.”
“Did you know that apples…”
“I tried that once.”
“You know, math is part of everything.”
“Who said anything about cats.”

I miss those little conversations and snippets of conversations. However, I do not miss the poop talk. If you have never had the experience of poop talk, let me explain. It comes with being around a bunch of people who have babies. Poop, poop, poop, and more poop. Diapers and baby food and sleep deprivation and all those conversations abound when everybody’s kids seem to be the same young age. Actually, truth be told, sometimes I miss the poop talk. Babies are such wonderful creations.

Perhaps my favorite and most cherished little interaction I have had over the years came at lunch, and turned into a misunderstanding on Facebook. It went something like this:

S: “You like your bananas ripe.”
Me: “I guess so.”
Se: “S likes hers so green that they make your teeth feel fuzzy.”
S just laughs. “It’s true.”
That night on Facebook.
S: “Did you know that brown bananas are good for cancer?”
L (a friend from high school): “I am sorry to hear that. I will pray for you.”
Me: “I do not have cancer. I was just eating a brown banana at school today and S was telling me the benefits of eating brown bananas. But I do appreciate your prayers.”
The next day at school.
S: “You have some good friends.”
Me: “And you are one of them.”

I am not sure of the specifics of the conversation or even of the Facebook interaction, but I do know that I have some good friends online and in person. Which is what I was talking about in the first place. I miss all those little interactions. Those little interactions that over the years have added up to caring and friendship.

There is one last little interaction that I miss. It usually happens on the day I post my blog. My friends and faithful fans, M&M, like to tell it like it is.

M: “Well another attempt. And another fail. Keep striving to become mediocre.”
&M: “What he said.”

Yes. I miss being at work. I miss seeing my students. But mostly, I miss those little interactions between my colleagues. I miss my friends.

© 2020 Michael T. Miyoshi

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