I received an email from an x student of mine. He was one of my better students despite the fact that he often showed up to class high and rarely did his homework. He often said that when he was in class he gathered knowledge through a process of osmosis. When he was not in class he was no longer interested in school- he just wanted to live out his youth free from institutional expectations. I respected this. This is the email I received from him today: “Hey dude, how’s life? I hope everything is cool cause the word around town/school is that you are now working as a bartender? WTF! That is cool and all but how did you go from the best English Teacher ever to a bartender? Is everything cool? Just curious. Shoot me back when you have a chance. Peace.”
I thought about the email for a bit. How would I respond? I was not at all bothered that the school community in which I taught all now know that I am a bartender. Bartending is a noble and age-old job that has it’s value just as teaching does. What concerns me is that my school community might assume that I took a step down, that I was visited by difficult circumstances and forced to take a job as a bartender. Education in California is in an almost apocalyptic state and many parents and students may assume that I am victim of this apocalypse. What I am trying to say is that I do not want others to worry about me. I made the choice to no longer work as a teacher. I made the choice to return to my bartending ways.
So I wrote my students back this email: “Hey man, all is well. Thank you for checking in. I am bartending because I want to have my days free to write, paint, live. Teaching is a full-time job and when I did it I had very little free time. Bartending allows me to have most of my days free. It also allows for me to sleep in. As a teacher I was serving youth knowledge. Now as a bartender I am serving adults booze. Such is life.”
Hopefully he will believe me and pass along the message to those who care.