Today a colleague was described as downright heroic because he has to teach four preps this semester. I shared this remarkable accomplishment with another colleague, who emitted a hollow laugh. Like me, he teaches four preps every semester, except that right now he's teaching an overload, bringing him up to five preps. I don't know if that makes us heroes or suckers.
(I really don't mind four preps. I'd rather teach four different classes than two sections of the same class, primarily because I hate to repeat myself--and besides, so many others regularly teach many preps that it hardly feels heroic.)
But the point is that even teaching four preps is not enough to make me feel heroic this week. I'm buried under grading and committee meetings and course preps so I end the work day exhausted and wanting to go home, but then I remember what's waiting for me at home: dirty dishes that we can't wash, sweaty workout clothes that stink up the laundry room, dirty toilets that we can't clean or flush because we still don't have running water after 11 days. It's hard to feel heroic when you walk in the door of your house and get slapped in the face by the stink of unflushed toilets.
It's true that we are coping fairly well, maybe semi-heroically. Lots of friends have opened their hearts and homes (and bathrooms) to us, and we've managed to keep a lid on (most of) the chaos, but everything just takes a little bit more time and advance planning. I've learned that it's not a great idea to leave two baskets of dirty laundry sitting in my car for eight hours on a sunny day (quick, where's my car air freshener?), and I've grown accustomed to taking an extra towel to campus so I can shower at the rec center.
But today was the worst. The absolute worst. The stinkingest, suckiest, kick-in-the-guttiest worst day of this entire ordeal. It was supposed to be the best day because the well specialist was scheduled to come out and fix the well, so I should have come home to clean, fresh, abundant running water. Instead, I came home to the news that the well guy got unavoidably detained on another job and won't be here until tomorrow, and also, by the way, oops they forgot to mention that I have to be prepared to pay them $2000 before they start work. Surprise!
And this was absolutely infuriating because last week the well guy had promised (1) that they would send an estimate well in advance; (2) that we would have to make a small deposit before they could start work; and (3) that we could set up payments for the rest of the bill. So you can imagine how delighted I was to be told that I have to scrounge around under the sofa cushions to see if someone dropped a spare two grand down there--by tomorrow morning!
"Heroes don't cry" I told myself as I dialed the number for the well guy's company, where a very pleasant young woman said oh yeah they, like, forgot about that whole small deposit promise and maybe we can work something out as long as we can pay, like, $500 in advance. Like, tomorrow. Which, fortunately, we can, like, do.
But now here I am at the end of an extremely exhausting day in which I have run through the full range of emotions from hope to anger to panic to despair so that instead of feeling like a hero, I feel like someone who needs a hero. Calgon, take me away! (Where's Mr. Clean when I need him?)