Dilemma: Shoot-out at the Copy Room

This excerpt is from Chapter Three, “The School as Workplace”

Shoot-out at the Copy Room


Sometimes your best ideas do not come during your plan.  On this Tuesday morning, you are driving to school and thinking about your plans for the day’s lessons when “the perfect activity” unfolds in your brain.  You’re so excited that you nearly run every light between you and the school in an effort to get to a computer and a copying machine.

Once you arrive at school, you hurriedly race to your computer.  You type with zest and speed and develop a handout that you feel will produce the best class of the semester.  You only regret that you are not being observed by an administrator today.

When you pull your handout off of the printer, you glance at your watch; it reads 8:10.  You still have twenty minutes until class. Triumphantly, you march to the school’s copy room.

Approaching the copy room, though, you notice a line of colleagues standing in the hallway, waiting for the one machine that is working this morning.  No problem, you think.  There’s plenty of time.  So you get in line behind Mrs. Allen and wait for your turn.

Unfortunately, Mr. Benson is three spaces ahead of you, and Ms. Carlson is behind him.  Mr. Benson is an American Government teacher who brags that he is the “Copy King” due to the bulk of reading material he gives to his students.  Judging by the stack of papers in his hands, he looks to be padding his lead over any competitors vying for his throne.

Ms. Carlson is an older teacher.  Older than what?  Seemingly time itself.  She fondly recalls the days of using duplex machines and still has not quite adjusted to the “new-fangled” copier that the school purchased five years ago.  It is common for her to need assistance with anything other than simple single sided, non-collated copies.

You scan your watch after a few moments, and it reads 8:15.  Luckily, Mr. Benson does not take too long to make his copies, despite their apparent bulk.  Ms. Carlson approaches the machine when Mrs. Jones storms into the room.

“I’m sorry, but I have a first period class, and I had a meeting this morning. You don’t mind, do you?” she chirps.

Ms. Carlson steps aside saying, “Oh, no, of course not.  I’m in no hurry.”

You’re a little upset, but there’s still time, and you say nothing.  Plus, Mrs. Jones only has a couple of originals that need copying.  Alas, she only takes a minute or two, and now Ms. Carlson is up.  She, however, runs several copies that she inspects then throws away because lines from the original are cut off at the bottom of the page.  Then there is a paper jam as she tries to stop copying a page that she did not mean to copy.  You and Mrs. Allen help her clear the machine, and you look at your watch to notice that the time is now a little after 8:27.

As Ms. Carlson finishes her copies, you remember that Mrs. Allen has plan first period.  Furthermore, you remember letting her slide ahead of you in line during your lunch-period a few days earlier.  You kindly ask her if you can go ahead.

“Well!  I’ve waited longer than you have.  You can wait; I’ve just got four things to copy.” And she proceeds to make her copies.

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