by Kate Flowers, English Teacher, Heinemann Fellow
An algebra teacher, a Spanish teacher, and an English teacher walk into a bar.
Wait. Revise that.
An algebra teacher, a Spanish teacher, and an English teacher sit in a car.
For four and a half hours.
Yes, that’s right.
Four. And. A. Half. Hours.
And we’re just talking about 128 miles here.
And that, folks, is why I’m posting my first Slice of Life Challenge so late—but it’s still March 1 in California. I left school with my colleagues Jen and Ji at 3:30 today to drive to a conference we’re attending in Sacramento with our principal Thursday and Friday. Since our principal had a 5:00 school site council meeting, we decided to let him drive separately, joking that he might get to Sacramento at the same time we did.
We knew we’d hit traffic, but the snarl we found ourselves in as we meandered through the sodden green foothills defied my imagination. I drove the first leg, until we stopped for Thai food in Tracy. Ji drove the second leg, while I answered parent emails on my phone sitting in the back seat. Why did I download that Schoolloop app? Now, instead of scrolling through Facebook, I feel compelled to answer emails IMMEDIATELY.
Over dinner at a Thai restaurant in downtown Tracy, we traded 9/11 stories. Jen told us about how she and her students listened to the horror unfold on the radio—they didn’t have a TV in her classroom. Now, at the same school, she could stream live video from her computer and project it from her LCD projector for the class. The world has changed in so many ways since that day. If 9/11 had happened now, we’d be watching it through Facebook Live and Snapchat.
Just fifteen miles outside of Sacramento, we hit our last traffic snarl. Jen checked Waze, which reported a major accident. Fifteen minutes later, we rubbernecked at an overturned flatbed trailer, and then stared in horror at the smoking shell of a car in the median, still being hosed down by a firefighter. Clearly, in that hour we sat telling our 9/11 stories in the Thai restaurant, something terrible had taken place along our route. I tell my students that telling our own stories can save our lives, but tonight that saying seems literal.
And yes, our principal arrived just ten minutes after we did, even though he left at 6:00. Bay Area traffic is not to be underestimated. “You guys grabbing a drink?” he asked.