Thoughts from the cafeteria

"Table for Teachers"
“Table for Teachers”

One of the perks of my job is the provision of a table jammed into the corner of the cafeteria. The crooked sign on it reads: “Table for teachers.” It is here that teachers can sit in undisturbed broody silence, slowly stirring their coffee, well-separated from the lighthearted laughter and smiles of the students filling the rest of the lunchroom. A dusty plastic ficus serves as a sentry guarding the table from students playing 2048 on their smartphones who might inadvertently wander out of their designated area and into the ivory tower table.

Ficus on the job

I realize the separate table is intended to be a privilege. The ficus fence separates our gated community and keeps us from being profaned by commoners. But despite the best of intentions, it feels like a teacher’s ghetto.  We gaze through the plastic leaves at a happier, more carefree world while we are safely cordoned off. Sometimes I get the feeling they are trying to protect the students from the teachers, not vice versa.

As you can probably tell, I sat at teachers’ table today, and I remembered all over again why I don’t sit there very often. It’s like locking yourself into a glass office. Everyone can see you but no one can talk to you. Awkward.

Although I don’t think I’ll be visiting the teachers’ table again anytime soon, I did put my time sitting there to good use. I came up with a slogan the cafeteria can add to the tired “Table for teachers” sign to attract more customers from among the teaching staff:

Faculty feeling frazzled? Flee to the fake ficus forest for refreshment! Fraternizing forbidden.

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