Essential Worker Zh43dfC
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
A school teacher and Mississippi governor Tate Reeves walk into a bar.
3:22 PM. For 48 hours now Reeves has been catching hell on social media for rescinding the mask mandate only 24 hours after the Covid vaccine was made available to teachers and needs to unwind a little before going home.
The teacher needs to drink because she’s been in the Covid classroom with no vaccine nor pay raise since August, on-line teaching, hybrid teaching, in-class teaching, parent advocating, attendance clerking, and social working.
The school teacher is double-masked. Reeves and the bartender are not masked at all.
She distances herself by six feet while simultaneously giving both men the side eye, reaches into her teacher bag, comes out with four new blue medical masks which she expertly tosses at the two men (which they catch) and says,
Yes ma’am, Reeves and the bartender say as they scramble to double mask up.
Reeves looks at (let’s call her Ms. Julie) and says, Governor Tate …
I know who you are, Ms. Julie responds. Her cell phone buzzes.
She answers an email from a bewildered parent, points to the Tanqueray and martini glasses while producing a Clarion Ledger from her teacher bag with the other hand, and says to the bartender: Make it a double. And make it dirty.
Tate, Julie says to Governor Reeves. May I call you Tate?
Governor Reeves and the bartender exchange quick glances and think to smirk then don’t. Both have been out of school so long as not to think of themselves as students but not so long as to have forgotten how to obey reasonable authority.
Yes ma’am, Tate Reeves says. He signals the bartender for his usual.
The bartender pours up Julie’s drink, sets it in front of her and, pro forma, begins to ask can I start you a tab, then, finding himself inside her metaphorical death stare, thinks better of it. Suddenly remembering being a frat boy, he says,
One dirty double martini on the house. Nothing’s too good for a teacher.
The teacher slides the Clarion Ledger down the copper-clad bar to Reeves. She fishes her olives out of her martini, creates a Canvas assignment, and takes a call from her teenagers at home who want to know what’s for supper.
Governor Reeves takes a swig of his Shiner Bock and loosens his tie up.
The teacher knocks back her martini in one gulp, then masks back up. She scrolls on her phone to Reeves’ Facebook feed and reads verbatim without smiling (she hasn’t smiled at anyone who’s not a kid since September 4th) --
“Executive orders that interfered with peoples’ lives were the worst…” referring to Reeves’ gleeful news to the anti-maskers of Mississippi that the CDC and Fauci reign of terror that stripped citizens of their own free will to catch Covid and maybe even die was about to be over.
Reeves starts to speak. Julie holds her hand up in the universal teacher symbol for shush up. Reeves starts to sweat, motions the bartender for another round and rolls his shirt sleeves up. Monday, she says, was already hard AF.*
Students at home with Covid depressed because they have Covid. Students in quarantine depressed because they’re not at school. Students at school depressed because their friends are all at home. And teachers.
Teachers – we didn’t even have time to book a vaccination because the appointments had been available for what – eight hours when the news broke? Spring break coming up, and here you go lifting the mask mandate without even thinking of us?
And fully opening bars and restaurants back up?
Spring Break 10 days away and all our students will go to Disney World and bring back more Covid then ten more weeks till school’s out in May. Did you ever think that maybe numbers were down BECAUSE at least some of us were wearing masks and social distancing? Did you ever think about them?
Do you not now expect the numbers to go back up?
Did you even once think of extending the mask mandate until at least Easter so that teachers would at least have time to get our first shot before calling the mask mandate off? Julie knocks back another martini. She masks back up.
Reeves looks pained. He finds his voice.
I want you to know, he says, with sincere political appreciation, that I appreciate every single thing you and all teachers do. It’s important for me that you know that I believe teaching is the most important profession in the world, and that’s why…
I know, I know, she interrupts. That’s why I’m bringing home $2500 a month.
Julie takes a text from CVS saying your prescription Xanax is ready to be picked up while calling her ride or die for a ride home, changes a grade for an online student who’s surfaced after ghosting her three weeks ago and orders Domino's for her kids.
That’s why teachers may get a $1000 pay raise next year meaning after taxes, about $63 more per month. I know. I also know, she finishes, standing up, that there’s nothing worse than a leader who wants out of the business of and I quote (here she makes air quote signs) of “telling people what they can and cannot do.”
Tate, she says, Governor Reeves, if you need someone to do your dirty work for you, to tell people what to do, I can step up.
Julie (who was a drama major in college and had big dreams of making it big in Hollywood before life forced her to teacher up) rises off her barstool.
Reeves and the bartender look at each other.
They do the man grimace. The bartender reaches into the cooler for another Shiner Bock for the Governor. The governor takes a text from his wife and says no. The door slams. They shake their heads in the universal man symbol for women!
PMS, I guess, says the bartender, taking his masks off.
Reeves laughs, good-naturedly, no harm done. He removes his masks and shoots them sling-shot style into the garbage, waves goodbye and says over his shoulder,
Damn. Why didn’t I ask a teacher?
The bartender howls and says, I know, man. I know.
*AF is polite for "as fuck." Because, after all, he is the governor. And she's a teacher.
Down in Mississippi : JB Lenoir
Mississippi Goddam : Nina Simone
Jazz Is The Teacher : James Blood Ulmer
teacher, don’t teach me nonsense :: Fela Kuti
Teacher Teacher : Rockpile
School Days : Chuck Berry
Call Me : Blondie