Posted by: krusty505 | August 19, 2011

On the Flip Side

Last week I posted about how dynamic our school is and how we couldn’t have gotten things going at our new campus as quickly as we had in any other type of structure than that of a charter school. Of course, there has to be a flip side, right? And sure enough there is. As great as it was to get things going as quickly as we did, we also operate under this huge bureaucracy called THE JAIL! If our school is a drop of mercury nimbly dancing on a sheet of ice, the jail is a glacier patiently grinding a mile thick hunk of granite into submission. Seriously, it’s funny how things get “done” out there sometimes, and really all you can do is laugh about it and carry on. Some examples might help.

Our classrooms are solid block floor to ceiling, so basically they are an echo chamber inside of a fun house. To say it’s loud in our rooms would be like saying Osama Bin Laden was a wee bit extremist. It’s so echo-y in there that when we have a staff meeting, people have to plug their ears up for fear of getting a migraine. If two students are talking to me at once in my room, it’s like trying to pick a voice out of the crowd at a Led Zeppelin concert. In our other campus, we have carpet in the classrooms, and still there is an echo. That’s how bad it is. Well, the jail is willing to lay carpet in our rooms. In fact, they’ll even pay for it! Getting them to actually put the stuff down is another story, however. We’ve been promised carpet since before the school opened, and late last week, a guy from maintenance came and asked me to put up all the furniture in my room and the one across the hall from me so that he could lay the carpet over the weekend. Yipp-ee!

I arrived on Monday to find my furniture neatly stacked where I left it and no carpet laid. Chalk one up for the Mendenhall Glacier.

Our principal bought us all phones over the summer. These handy, modern devices are a great way for people to communicate when they aren’t near their Outlook inbox! What’s great is that they make a noise that you can hear from across the room (I’d hate to think what they’d sound like in our uncarpeted rooms, but…), so if you’re not near your trusty email, you are alerted that someone needs to speak with you. I don’t know the full story of the phones, but the details I’ve been able to suss out from overhearing our principal try to get them connected go a little something like this. The ports (we used to call them jacks back in the day) that the phones plug into are controlled by the county; thus, only county workers can activate them. We need licenses to make the phones work. They have to be purchased and processed at a county office, not at the jail. Someone has to then activate each port, plug in the phone and program it for a specific user. Sounds simple, right?

Now, we have an IT firm that has created a computer network out at the jail for us, which is separate from the jail’s network, but which uses the same cable routing and ports as the jail, so that when we want to plug our computers, routers and printers into our network, we need to deactivate the jail’s ports and reactivate the ports on our network. I imagine this to be somewhat like an epic Tron-style battle of cables, ports and little bits of flying data, but somehow these guys make it work. If you think this metaphor is a bit of a stretch, keep in mind that one of the defunct passwords the IT guys used in our system had some Star Wars reference, so yes, they are that nerdy, but they work hard for us in an environment that is not conducive to open access to the world wide web, so we are all happy to live with a little nerdiness. If our phone system ran on our network, getting the phones working would be a simple matter of emailing our IT guys (don’t forget, we don’t have phones yet, so we can’t call them) and having them come out and hook them up, but evil Vader and his minions have another plan for our rebel fleet.

I’ll give you one guess as to whether or not we have phones yet… glacier 2 points, school 0.

The jail’s mechanical system is schizophrenic. In the summer it’s freezing; in the winter, boiling. I literally wear a hoody in my classroom with the hood up. If the students didn’t already wear uniforms, I’d swear some of the CO’s would assume I was the thug in there. I mean, I run hot, but in my room, my hands get so cold, they shrink. I sometimes think my watch is going to slip right over my hand and off my wrist, and not because Peter Pickpocket is a student of mine. Many of our staff have discovered creative ways to try to adjust the temperature in their rooms. I won’t get into all the details for fear of causing trouble, but it’s comical to see how they attempt to stave off the creeping glacier from turning their rooms into a meat locker. Nothing works!

Maintenance is a full time gig out at the jail. The plumbing backs up routinely; this give the term shit-show a whole new meaning. All the doors are magnetically controlled, so they require constant up keep. Lights go out routinely because they are run nearly 24/7. Frequently, maintenance runs tests on the electrical system, so the lights go on and off in the rooms, sometimes for hours at a stretch. The maintenance workers roll (literally) along the corridors pushing these little carts with all their tools in them. Sometimes you can catch one and ask him to change the temperature settings in your room. You shiver up to him and in a subservient and quivering voice politely ask him if he can turn down the a/c in your room. “Oh, yeah, sure thing, buddy!” is the usual answer. The next day, you’re comfy/cozy in your perfectly cooled room. This typically lasts for about 24 hours. Then, it’s back to freezing.

Yup, you guessed it. Glacier wins!



  1. OMGsh! I am LMVAO! Everytime I read one of your posts it literally makes me snort from laughing so hard (similarly to how I reacted to “Lowe’s” in the meeting the other day). Your humor, as quirky as it is, really comes through in your writing.

    • Thanks, Jenn. I’m glad it came off as humorous and light. And I agree, “Lowes” was hilariousXD

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