Ajarn Street

The anatomy of a teachers room

What goes on in that cramped, airless little room?

The Water Cooler
The worst thing about the water-cooler, apart from having to drink from one of those cylindrical cones of paper that implode after 2.7 seconds emptying the contents over your crotch, is that you invariably have to make small talk with Reg. Reg is always at the water cooler, initiating conversation with little gems such as "How's your class going?"or worse still "take a guess at how many pints I had last night. Go on - take a guess" This is usually followed by a report on the current state of his underpants
The Water Kettle
No matter what time of day, be it first thing in the morning or last thing at night (when you're the only person in the building) there is only ever half an inch of water in the water kettle. And there's that discomforting whooshing noise isn't there as you realize you're going to get half a cup of coffee out of it at best. Oh, and ants seem to love water kettles. Don't know why but they do.
The Word Up Board Game
Half the pieces might be missing and the box may be about to crumble to dust but by jove Missis!, come the last day of term, there's no finer way to waste a couple of hours than to settle a bunch of students down in front of that familiar blue board before disappearing to the fire exit for a ciggy.
Scotch Tape
There are two types of scotch tape in this world of ours - the quality stuff that your Mom uses to wrap Christmas presents and then the kind that you find in teachers rooms - the kind that involves taking ten minutes to locate the end and then all you succeed in doing is taping your fingers together.
The Teachers Room Scissors.
When it's time to cut up small squares with the names of zoo animals on them, then it's time to locate the teaching room scissors. Even though someone many moons ago fashioned a paper label with 'Teacher's Room - Do Not Remove' and affixed it to the item in question (usually a bird) you can never find the damn things when you most need them. After several days it dawns on you that the receptionist is using them to trim her split ends.
The Pot Plant
All it takes is one friend of humanity and one milk bottle half-filled with water. That's all it takes to nourish it and give it the gift of life - but no, it's all too much to ask. Plenty of people will walk past and say "is no-one going to water that thing?" but who wants to water plants when there are Bangkok Post crosswords to be done
The Photocopier
Why is it that when you have exactly five minutes to prepare and photocopy a lesson sheet, the teacher at the photocopier is xeroxing forty mock TOEFL tests? And then when he's finally finished, the toner runs out or steam starts to emerge from the most unlikely outlet. Cue much shoulder-shrugging from those not claiming responsibility for replenishing the stocks of toner.
The Teachers Room Phone
Basically a useless piece of plastic. You can't dial mobile phone numbers. In fact, you can't dial any number since the school received an itemized bill showing that someone called Stockholm at three in the morning. When it was time to own up, all the staff suddenly developed chronic amnesia.
Comedy Mugs
No teachers room is complete without a comedy mug. "I am a virgin - this is a very old mug'. 'Sex instructor - first lesson free' You get the picture. Comedy mugs are usually drunk out of by the same teacher who attaches newspaper clippings to the notice board because one of the characters in a juicy story has the same name as a member of staff.
Marker Pens
Nothing puts a smile on a teacher's face faster than a brand-new marker pen. That unmistakable whiff of 'newness'. That feeling you get from tearing off the protective cellophane with your teeth. If only the world was that perfect.
You usually have a choice of three colored markers - the black one that resembles a chimney-sweep's brush. The red one that's drier than a Bangkok bar on election night, and the green one that none of the students can read anyway.
Lockers are the root of all evil in any teachers room. They offer perfect excuses for a teacher to hide away the most widely-used textbook in the staffroom and then bugger off on a fortnight's sick leave. I've seen wars break out in teachers rooms because Trisha swore she left 200 baht in there the week before last and is now scanning the room for the most likely-looking lock-picker.
The Grill Oven
Once upon a time four teachers clubbed together and ventured excitedly into the Robinsons electrical department. They carried back the grill oven with thoughts of piping hot pizza slices and rounds of hot-buttered toast before morning class. Now the teachers have long since departed and inside that once-happy grill oven is a layer of grease so thick you could write your name in it.....and a dead cockroach
If your teachers room is an organized, systematic affair, then you probably have a refillable glass jar with 'Coffee-Mate' written on it. It may sometimes even get washed under a cascade of warm water each time it gets refilled.
Or you have the coffee-mate jar that no-one can be bothered to fill and the jar acts as a sort of 'mother-ship' to all the half-empty foil packets that no-one can be arsed to tip in.
The Ghetto Blaster
The worst thing you can do is send a Thai member of staff out to buy a new classroom ghetto blaster - because big is never beautiful. You end up with a double tape-deck with Dolby surround-sound and woofer system for 950 baht, made by a Japanese company that you've never heard of. After three weeks, one of the cassette compartment doors falls off and it eats every tape in sight.
The Teachers Room Bookshelf
One day, one of the teachers decided to organize the teachers room bookshelf. Interchanges went on one shelf, grammar books on another and workbooks on the bottom. The person probably hummed a little tune as they did it. It doesn't matter. The only book anyone is interested in is '101 easy-to-use grammar games', and that's currently in Kevin's locker. Where is Kevin by the way?
The Maid
Come on, let's hear it for the woman with a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp and an arse the size of Argentina. She potters around the teachers room in a garish yellow overall, muttering to herself in some obscure Cambodian dialect that only the other seven people in her village truly understand. Always armed with her trusty damp cloth, when it comes to muck and grime she specializes in redistribution rather than actual removal. But when the work's done, there's always time to put her feet up in reception and tell the most gossipy receptionist about her troubles. And believe me - there are plenty of 'em.
The Rogue Mars Bar
Fiona bought it as a naughty little treat to have after her lettuce and cashew nut salad, but then decided to 'save it for later'. So there it sits - in the middle of Fiona's desk. Tempting, appetizing, beckoning. And every time you walk past it your stomach grumbles louder ever louder - and all because you spent lunchtime smoking fags and marking the exam papers that you should have done yesterday.


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