In response to his wife’s frantic demand for attention Joe quickly turned the shower off and replied, “Really!? Wow. Tell her I’ll be right with her. What’s her name?”
“Oh, darn. I’m not sure. I heard ‘Becky’ maybe? Sorry. I’ll find out.”
Joe slipped a large bath towel around his waist and splashed wet footprints from the master bath to the phone in the kitchen. Misty held her hand over the phone’s receiver and whispered, “Rebecca Feldt. She teaches second grade.”
Joe nodded vigorously, mouthed thank you and took the phone from his wife. “Hello, Rebecca? This is Joe Kleen. My wife tells me you need a substitute for tomorrow?”
“Oh, hi, Joe,” came the gumbo voice from the phone, “I sure do. I bumped into Nick Hayes at the Winn Dixie this morning and told him that my regular sub had to cancel at the last minute and he suggested I call you? Are you a friend of Nick’s?”
Joe hesitated for just a second and said, “We have mutual friends but no, I don’t really know Nick. I am available tomorrow though.”
“Oh, well, that’s fine. I found your name and number on East Side’s substitute list and I’m kind of in a bind. Eileen Lampey, that’s who I normally get, she had to cancel at the last minute. Well, the last day anyway.
“Her daughter went into premature labor four weeks early and Eileen loaded up her car and drove to Iowa of all places. Imagine! Iowa in November. Poor dear. Very odd that a first baby should come early; usually they’re late if anything.
“I am so glad I found you! I hate having to scramble at the last minute, especially when I arranged for this months ago.”
“Yes,” Joe managed to squeeze into Rebecca’s monologue, “That has to be disappointing. So, tomorrow at what, 7:30, right?”
“That’s correct, 7:30 until 3:30. You have recess duty but no lunch duty and I have my lesson plans all ready in my sub folder which I left on my desk. They’re a fun class but you have to keep them reined in or they’ll walk all over you. Oh! I didn’t leave my notes on which students you might need to keep a special eye on, Eileen knows my class so well that I don’t have to. It’s in the folder, you’ll just have to dig for it. Have you taught second grade before, Joe?”
“No, Rebecca, I haven’t. My first long term in school observations was in Kathy Mullinix’s second grade class up in Connecticut years ago but I haven’t taught second graders.”
“Oh, please call me Becky. Yes, I noticed you talk a little funny. The kids should be able to understand you alright, most of them are displaced northerners too. I prefer a female teacher for younger children but I don’t imagine you’ll do them much harm in just one day. So how long have you been at this, Joe?”
“I just moved down here with my wife in June. I haven’t found a full time teaching position yet so I’m substitute teaching while I look for a position. I really appreciate you calling me, Becky, always good to get your foot in the door at a new place.”
“Yes, that’s true. As I said Nick thought of you and there you were on the list. I’m so glad to have this work out. Okay, Joe the folder is on my desk and my phone number is with the folder. I gave your wife my number too, do you have it? If you need anything please call me as soon as you get in because I won’t be home after about 8:00 o’clock, you’ll just get our answering machine. Leave me a note on anything unusual, okay?”
“I do have it, Becky. She wrote it on the pad by the phone. If I need anything tomorrow morning I’ll call right away. Enjoy your day off, I’ll take care of your class.”
“Our school secretary is a good resource if you want to reach me later and can’t. Okay then, bye.”
“Bye,” Joe said as he hung up the phone and then jumped high enough into the air to brush the top of his head on the eight foot ceiling. “Yes! First teaching job tomorrow.”
Misty stood before Joe with a huge grin on her face, “Joe Kleen, did you just obfuscate the truth and mislead that poor woman for personal gain? My little boy is growing up.”
“I did not lie…”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, tiger! Nobody used the word lie here. I only heard your half of the conversation but it sure sounded like she was drilling you for work history and you danced all around her barbs. I am praising you, not chastising.”
“Well, yeah. She was asking if I’d taught second grade and what was I supposed to say? ‘Why no, Becky I’ve never been unsupervised in a classroom before. Thanks for calling, I’ve got this handled and have a good time on your day off.’ I answered her questions without giving her too much information.”
“You did at that; great job. This is so exciting! Your first teaching job. Wait till I write Mom and Dad.”
“Yep. Now I just have to call JT and tell him I won’t be in to work tomorrow. I sure hope he’s as good as his word as far as that not being a problem.