Do teachers get detention for being late too? I hope not…

It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I have a problem with chronic lateness. I know that the psychological explanation for this is that I value my time more than the time of others and therefore am just a horribly rude individual who has no regard for anyone else.

In other words, psychology just called me a giant jerk.

Which might be the direct result of me skipping all of my psychology classes in college, then acing the tests. Well played, psychology, well played.


 But in reality, the answer is far more complicated.


Actually, it’s pretty simple. The universe hates me and conspires against me to make me late, no matter what I do.

Case in point: my resource teacher sent out a very tactfully worded email just before spring break warning the English department that if we were going to be out of the building for more than 15 minutes, we needed to take leave. Which included leaving early if we were off seventh period (guilty last year… unfortunately, I teach seventh period this year, so no more sneaking out at 2:09 to beat the onslaught of student-driver traffic) or arriving after 7:25, even if we are off first period.

Which, I’m pretty sure was aimed DIRECTLY at me as I have had to slink past my administrators in the front hallway more times than I can count at approximately 7:27. They’re very nice about it and usually just laugh at me, while I hang my head in self-inflicted Jewish guilt and shame while whispering vows to arrive on time the following day.

Or at least sneak in another door of the building.

But after that email went out, I knew I could NOT be late anymore. My leave days are FAR too valuable to be wasted on my chronic lateness. Well, okay, OFFICIALLY, they’re not right now because there are no US Bruce tour dates on the horizon. But those days carry over to future years. So I still plan to hoard them like my mom is hoarding baby clothes in the desperate hopes that I will soon become impregnated by my perfect (aka Jewish) boyfriend. So being late is NOT an option! (You hear that mom? I meant that as a double entendre! It’s not happening any time soon, so there’s NO reason for them to know you by name at Buy Buy Baby! I’m on to you woman!)

So for the first day back from break, I had a foolproof plan: I set my alarm for 20 minutes earlier than I would normally wake up, knowing that I would need those full 20 minutes to arrive at school two minutes earlier than usual. Why? Because arriving at 7:27, the parking lot is as empty as the shelves of a DC area grocery store when a single flurry is in the weather forecast. Any time between 7:03 and 7:25, however, it’s like the world’s worst game of Mario Kart as every horrible teenage driver and angry, late-for-work parent drives the wrong way down one-way lanes to get the kids in the building on time.

 So using math (for the first time since high school calculus—don’t let your math teachers lie to you kids, you’ll NEVER need math in real life!), I calculated that it would take me ten times as long to make it through the parking lot, ipso facto, waking up 20 minutes earlier was a definite way to arrive at school on time.

Except that math failed me when I accidentally set my alarm for PM instead of AM and woke up at 7:02. EPIC FAIL.

But I’m a survivor! I picked myself up from that catastrophe (and may have texted my work BFF, who came and snuck me in a side door. LOVE YOU!!!!!), and tried again yesterday.

And I did it! I woke up at 4:40 (because I’m a psycho exercise addict and was more willing to wake up twenty minutes earlier than cut my 5am workout short), did my whole 5am (sorry, 4:40am) workout, got showered, dressed, prettily made up, and hustled my cute little teacher butt out the door BEFORE 7am! It was wonderful! A miracle! It was like the heavens parted and Leonardo DiCaprio himself descended on a cloud with a choir of angels to praise my ability to leave the house early enough to get to work on time! Hallelujah and praise Leo!

I stuck to the plan exactly and drove like a demon, just like I always do when I’m running late for work, and I arrived within a quarter mile of the school with twenty minutes to spare!

Where I then sat, for the next twenty minutes, waiting in the turn late to get into the school because two teenage drivers got into an accident and were out of their cars screaming at each other, taking cell phone pictures of the damage, threatening to sue each other, then stopping for a leisurely breakfast of bagels and smear on the side of the road, while blocking every lane of traffic.

I finally got around all of that (they could have at least offered me a bagel!), pulled into the parking lot, ran (no easy feat in high heels, let me tell you! But I was dedicated! I would get there on time, even if it meant a broken ankle!) to the school, composed myself, and walked in the front door.

At 7:27.

Because I forgot that it doesn’t matter what time I leave my house. I could leave at 6:03 or 7:23 and somehow, through some vortex in the space-time continuum that I do not, cannot understand, still arrive at school at 7:27 each and every day.

So maybe it’s a good thing that there are no impending Springsteen tour dates. Because it looks like I’ll need a little time to save up some more leave before he plays any more US shows. And if anyone wants to prop a door open for me and save me the humiliation of trying to come up with a valid reason other than that I’m chromosomally incapable of arriving places on time, I’d appreciate it.

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Why did the goose cross the road? Because it hates me…

Monday morning, as I was driving to school, I had a near death experience.

I almost hit a goose.

Granted, that probably wouldn’t have caused MY death. But it would have damaged my car, and at that point, I would have gotten out of the car and if the goose wasn’t dead, I would have made sure it felt the full force of my wrath.

But there I was, driving to school, following the speed limit exactly, because I’m never running late in the morning (yeah, I can’t even type that with a straight face. Fine, I was running massively late and therefore speeding. And on the phone with Darya telling her about some less-than-blog-appropriate exploits from my weekend. And putting on lipgloss. Texting while driving may be illegal, but I’ve never seen a law against applying makeup while driving. Which, to be honest, is probably more dangerous than texting while driving in my case), when all of a sudden, I’m forced to SLAM on the breaks, praying that there isn’t a car following too closely behind me, to avoid murdering this poor, bewildered creature that happened to cross my path on Montgomery Village Avenue.

Which I’m sure scared Darya as much as it scared me, because mid-sentence, I suddenly screamed, “GOOOOOOOOSE!!!!!!” Not what you want yelled in your ear at 7:15am.

I stop just in time. And so does the goose, which then proceeds to plant itself in the middle of the road and glare at me.

Now, I’m a teacher. I’m good at giving the glare of death. But I could learn a few things from this goose, because not only was it NOT budging, I was pretty intimidated by the way it was looking at me.

But I was late for school. (Or if my principal is reading this, I was on time and didn’t WANT to be late for school! Honest!) And that goose was in my way. So I did what any normal person would do. I ran the little bastard over.

Not really. I actually honked my horn.

Nothing happened.

I rolled down my window and tried to reason with it. “Hey goose! Get out of my way!”

Nothing.

And finally, the goose won, because I backed up, got into the other lane, and drove around it. And I swear it was glaring at me in the rearview mirror as I drove away.

But, with that behind me, I continued on my way to school, only mildly later than I had already been, and didn’t think more of it.

Until Tuesday. When I was driving along, late for school, applying my lipgloss, and rocking out to the new Bruce album, which came out that morning, and suddenly had to jam on the breaks again and scream “GOOOOOOOOSE!!!!!!”

Yes. There was a goose in the middle of the road. And I swear it was the same one because it was sitting there waiting for me. Glaring at me. Making it perfectly clear through its evil goose-telepathy that it was daring me to hit it.

And once again, I tried reasoning with it, I tried honking at it, but in the end, had to go around the goose.

I do understand that normal people would probably assume it was a coincidence. The odds of it being the SAME goose are pretty small, and clearly geese lack the intelligence to glare at me maliciously while shooting evil mental telepathy at me.

But I’m not normal. Because I understand that the avian world is out to get me.

Need proof? My first complete sentence was “duck bite hand,” which was the result of the first time a bird attacked me. Then when I was two, an ostrich attacked me for my peanut butter and jelly sandwich at a petting zoo. And there was the one that almost pecked my brother’s eye out at the San Diego zoo. And the seagull that pooped on me at the beach. And the one that defiled the inside of my new convertible the day that I got it. Birds are evil, evil creatures. And for whatever reason, they have identified me as their primary target.

At this point, the movie The Birds scares me more than ET does, and that’s saying a lot.  (I don’t care if you loved that movie as a kid, that little alien monster is freaky!)

So Wednesday, I left a couple of minutes early to foil the evil goose’s attempt to make me late to work again. And as I rounded the corner where the creature usually waits for me, I slowed down to avoid causing further damage to my brake pads.

No goose to be seen.

But now I’m worried. Because what if the goose WAS planning to ambush me again and didn’t foresee my ability to leave the house early? It’ll just be angrier now. And I’m completely positive that I’m going to go out to my car after school one day and it’s going to be sitting in the parking lot behind my car, leaving me with no escape route to avoid hitting it.

Or worse, be ON my car.

Not my car.  But clearly it CAN happen!

Or even worse, it will have left me a present on my car. And not the kind I want. The kind Rosie leaves on my rug when she’s angry with me.

Actually, now that I think about it, it might be worth the damage to my car to run the evil goose over.

Game on, evil goose. Game on.

The 11th Commandment: Thou shalt leave a note when thou hittest a parked car

Yesterday, something so vile, disgusting and inhumane happened that I’m actually loath to talk about it.

While I spent my day from sunup to sundown (both of which I missed) educating the youth of America and helping to ensure a better future for our world, a vicious hate crime of epic proportions was perpetrated against me.

Some unholy minion of evil HIT MY PARKED CAR.

Even this, however, I could forgive, under the right circumstances. People call most collisions “accidents” for a reason, after all.

But whoever committed this immoral atrocity also violated the most rudimentary and fundamental law that separates humans from animals: he or she did not leave a note.

I immediately jumped to the most rational possible conclusion, which was that Verizon had hunted me down and lashed out against me in the most unforgivable manner possible as retribution for my (completely warranted) campaign against them.

Then I realized that was super unlikely because they can’t even get their acts together enough to keep my internet and cable functioning, let alone figure out where I work and which car is mine all in enough time to arrive there during normal business hours.

So unless Verizon is MUCH better at revenge than they are at providing reliable cable and internet service, (and factoring in the fact that I work at a high school) it was probably a teenage driver who hit my car.

Which doesn’t make it any better. Hitting someone’s car without leaving a note is one of the most reprehensible acts that a member of a civilized society can commit.

It’s a little known fact, but when Moses went up onto Mount Sinai, God actually presented him with ELEVEN commandments, not the ten that we’ve all been taught. But the Israelites had no idea what a car was and therefore discarded the holy eleventh commandment: Thou shalt not hittest another man’s car without leaving a note with thine name, phone number, and insurance information.

You want to know why we keep having tragedies and natural disasters? Start following the eleventh commandment and maybe the world will be a better place.

As a strict adherent to the sacred eleventh commandment, I am personally of the belief that there is a special circle in hell for people who hit other people’s cars without leaving a note.

No, they don’t belong in the VERY deepest circle of hell, which as we all know is reserved for Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Martha Stewart, Stephenie Meyer (the chick who wrote the Twilight books), and those people who put their children on leashes—that level, of course, is ruled by the master of all that is dark and cruel and evil. He goes by many names. Some call him Satan. Some call him Beelzebub. Some call him the Space Cowboy. Some call him the Gangster of Love. Some people call him Maurice. But most of the modern world just knows him as Dick Cheney.

The eleventh commandment violators wind up in the second deepest level of hell.

Yes.

I mean the circle that is presided over by Dan Snyder. Because having him in charge of that particular eternal torture chamber is the ONLY way to ensure that it will suck enough to truly punish these monsters who are willing to disobey the laws of civilized society.

Now I don’t want you to think that I’m unreasonable. I DO understand that there are some circumstances under which it is not only acceptable, but actually advisable to hit someone’s car and NOT leave a note. In fact, there are three (and ONLY three) situations in which there is no need to leave a note.

Scenario 1: You are Jack Bauer. Granted, if you’re Jack Bauer, the car you’re driving was commandeered *cough*-stolen-*cough* at gunpoint while you were chasing terrorists and essentially saving the free world. And I’m not sure if it’s really YOUR responsibility to leave a note when you hit a car with a stolen car in the first place.

But if it WAS you who hit my car, Mr. Bauer, don’t worry, I completely understand.

Unless you were NOT chasing terrorists down for once and were really on your way to pick up your dry cleaning, in which case I expect an apology and a check for the damages.

Just kidding. Please don’t shoot me.

Scenario 2: You are Legend. I mean you are literally Will Smith. And the entire world’s population has died out due to a cure for cancer that you created and that went horribly wrong, and the only other living creatures are horrible vampire/zombie monsters that are trying to get you.

However, in this scenario, it’s only okay to hit other cars and not leave a note if you’re 1) driving at full speed away from the vampire/zombie monsters in the middle of the night when they can come out and attack you, and 2) spending your days working on finding a cure and therefore saving mankind.

If you’re just driving around during the day, it doesn’t matter if everyone else is dead, you still need to leave a note. In fact, that’s probably WHY the vampire/zombie creatures were so pissed off. They didn’t want to eat you. They were mad because you hit one of THEIR cars and didn’t leave a note. Vampire/zombies deserve common courtesy when you mess up their property too, you know!

Some legend YOU are.

Jerk.

Scenario 3: You’re in a Delorean and you have to make it to 88 miles per hour to get back in time and when you arrive in the past, you hit a car that wasn’t there when you left in 1985.

But be warned, this scenario ONLY applies if you’re using the time machine to see a Springsteen show from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. If you’re messing with the space time continuum to ensure that your parents kiss at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance so that you can be born, you’re still expected to leave a note.

And if you’re not bringing me with you to see Springsteen, and you hit MY car, I will travel back in time Terminator-style to kill your mother and make sure that you’re never born. But unlike Arnold, I’ll actually get the job done. Then I’ll go see Bruce in 1978. Because really, what’s the point of time travel if you’re just going to go hang out with your dorky teenage parents? Lame.

So, to whoever hit my car and didn’t leave a note, I’m going to give you one day to find me and make it right. You have exactly 24 hours to fess up.

And if it turns out that you fit into one of the three aforementioned acceptable scenarios, all will be forgiven. But the odds aren’t in your favor because Jack Bauer isn’t real, the human race hasn’t been wiped out by a killer cancer vaccine, and no one took me back in time to the 1970s. Which means you should be very, very afraid about what awaits you in the afterlife.

Because trust me, you’re going to be BEGGING to hang out with Adolf, Saddam, Martha and Dick Cheney in the deepest circle of hell after ten minutes of being tortured under Dan Snyder’s evil regime.

Just ask any Redskins fan.

Hands-free laws are like communism. In theory, they work. In theory.

A week ago today, a new Maryland law went into effect making it illegal to use a cell phone while driving without a hands-free device.

In theory, this is a great law. In theory. But as Homer Simpson would say, “In theory communism works. In theory.”

In reality, however, this is usually still a good law. Driving with a cell phone SHOULDN’T be legal. Just like how radar detectors probably shouldn’t be legal in any state. But I’m really glad they are in most of them.

Unfortunately, in the last week, I’ve proven that I personally am the exception to the rule, because somehow I’m a MUCH more dangerous driver when I have to worry about my Bluetooth headset.

For a normal person, this doesn’t make any sense. A normal person was probably already using his or her Bluetooth before the law was in place because it’s easier and safer. But I got my first cell phone right when I was learning to drive. So I can literally count on one hand the number of times that I’ve driven a car without having a cell phone with me. (And every single one of those times was a panic-driven mad dash home to get my phone when I’ve realized that I forgot to bring it. I’d honestly rather show up naked somewhere than show up without my phone. It’s like Linus with his blanket. I just can’t be without it.)

With that said, I don’t talk on my phone all that often, either in the car or otherwise. And the few people who I actually do call on a regular basis are on speed-dial, so when I DO use my phone in the car, I do it safely.

I will admit that I’ve been known to text from the car. I know, I know, I’m a monster. But everyone who texts has done this before. If you’re going to come after me with pitchforks and torches, you’d better go after everyone else too. I HAVE, however, limited myself to doing it at lights or in non-moving traffic because my school had an assembly on texting while driving that was so emotionally scarring that it’s probably going to wind up costing me a sum that could bankrupt Bill Gates in therapy bills down the line.

I made it through the first two days of the new hands-free law with no problem. Last Thursday night, in preparation for the law’s first day, I found my Bluetooth headset (which during the blizzards last winter, I decorated with pink rhinestones—I glued rhinestones on almost everything I owned during the blizzards. Rosie should be grateful she has fur, because if she didn’t, I probably would have bedazzled her too), charged it, and put it in my car.

As soon as I got in the car on Friday and Saturday, I put it on and promptly forgot about it because it’s pretty comfortable.

Which meant that I forgot to take it off and LEAVE it in the car for future use.

So by Sunday, when my dad called me as I was running some errands, I had no clue where it was. And in the ten minutes between when he first called me and when I finally located the headset (which was somehow under the floormat on the passenger side of the car. I still no clue how THAT happened), I almost died approximately 17,986 times. Had I just answered my phone (or figured out how to answer it on speakerphone on the Palm Pixi—if anyone can help me out there, please let me know!), thousands of innocent lives could have been saved from the potential danger that I put them in while trying to find my headset.

And unfortunately, I went through the same process several times before figuring out that it’s a SECONDARY offense to be talking without a hands-free device. So as long as I’m not speeding or running a light or drinking a beer while driving, cops can’t pull me over FOR talking on my phone.

Now they tell me.

But I AM trying to follow the rules. I found a clip to hold my headset in place in the center console when I’m not using it so that I’ll always know where it is, and I’m making a concerted effort to leave it in the car when I am done driving.

However, when they stop letting me hold my ipod to change the playlist that I’m listening to, I’m moving to a state with less stringent driving laws.

Which won’t be Virginia; I love my radar detector too much.

Or Delaware or Texas. Because I freaking hate those states.

Which probably leaves one of my favorite states, New Jersey*. Get ready for a new neighbor, Bruce! I think you should invite me over to welcome me to the neighborhood. Because I love you.

*(Yes, I know New Jersey has hands-free cell phone laws too.  But it’s just a better state anyway.)

But until I move, if you call me and I don’t answer, it doesn’t mean that I’m ignoring you; it’s far more likely that I died in a fiery crash while trying to find my Bluetooth headset to answer your call.

The only thing worse than the Metro? Driving in DC

I am one of those rare, strange people who enjoys driving in New York City.

There’s an easy explanation for this: I learned to drive in the DC area.

No one is ever going to dispute that New York City drivers are crazy. They are. But they’re the GOOD kind of crazy. They’ll scream at you and give you the finger and zigzag around you in traffic. But they can do all that without ACTUALLY endangering your life. That’s why I say they’re good drivers. They have to be good to drive in NYC without dying. I can identify with that kind of driving. I respect that kind of driving.

But DC drivers are the worst of the worst. Marylanders will argue with you that Virginia drivers are the worst, and Virginians will say Maryland drivers are the worst. But it doesn’t matter where you hail from. If you’re driving in DC, I probably hate you.

 I’m a native Washingtonian, and I love my home city. But as far as traffic goes, it is the worst city in the world. Part of the problem is the city itself. I know it was laid out deliberately to be confusing to anyone who attacked, but honestly, no one who attacks is going to do it by land anymore. It’s as out of date as a walkman.

I still don’t understand why there’s no J Street in DC. Like there’s all kinds of theories about it. But none of them make any sense. Why would you use letters for streets and then leave one out? I mean, I get it if they did it to screw with peoples’ heads. I would be impressed if that was the case. But it’s not. It’s random.

Then there are the traffic circles. I have no problem with traffic circles in general. I understand how they work (if not the need for them), and don’t have a problem navigating them. But 99.999 percent of the population lacks the ability to handle them. Putting the average person in a traffic circle is like putting metal in the microwave; it causes a serious problem and it stinks. And something (in this case, my head) might explode as a result.

Traffic circles DO, however, have one perk. Say someone you hate is crossing through the circle. If you don’t manage to hit them when you try the first time, you can drive around the traffic circle a couple of times to wait for them, and get them when they cross the other side of the circle.*

(*Note: I am not responsible for any legal repercussions if you do this. I’m only telling you for entertainment purposes. Or in case Dan Snyder is crossing Dupont Circle. No Redskins fan jury will
find you guilty. Go for it. You may even get a medal.)

 I have seen more stupidity from people driving in DC, however, than in any other area of my life. And I’m a teacher. There literally used to be a sign on Constitution Avenue that said “Red means stop.” Really? Are there REALLY people driving who don’t know that? Don’t you think there’s a bigger problem if you need a sign like that?

The DC government knows that its drivers suck. That’s why they have a law against talking on a cellphone without some kind of hands-free device while driving.

 In theory, this law is great and could save lives. In theory.

But this law has a side effect (one that even I have been guilty of). You’re driving in DC and your phone rings. You’re not sure where you’re going (and your navigation system is useless in DC because sometimes there are two streets with the same name, but one is in NW and one is in SW and there’s no distinguishing between the two on your nav system—been there, done that, felt like an idiot), and you need to talk to the person calling you so that you can find out where to go.

But you can’t find your headset.

Crap.

This leads to the frantic scramble to find it before the phone stops ringing. During this panicked digging through your purse/center console/backseat/glove compartment, you wind up paying less attention to the road than you would be if you were texting while driving.

In desperation, you look around for somewhere to pull over so that you can call your friend back.

HAHAHAHA that doesn’t exist in DC! What are you? A tourist?

Then, you finally decide that you HAVE to break the law so that you don’t spend the rest of your life driving around the city aimlessly looking for streets that don’t exist. So you answer your phone, but you have to keep your head low, to avoid getting a ticket if a cop sees you. And at this point, if you’re still alive and haven’t crashed your car, you’re probably going to get pulled over anyway for weaving all over the place like you were drunk.

Again, in theory, it’s a great law.

But it doesn’t help with the idiots who think they’re still on the Metro and are reading the newspaper while driving! (I’ve seen it! I mean, who still reads a real paper newspaper these days, let alone WHILE DRIVING? And they’re worried about people talking on their phones?)

Then again, maybe the bad driving and the horrible street layout is part of a plan to make DC more green. I know that I’m more likely to take the Metro than drive there, because I fear for my life every time I cross the border from Maryland into DC. But then again, if that was true, wouldn’t Metro service be better to encourage people to take it?

Like the mystery of J street, I guess there are just some questions without answers.