A couple months ago I was having trouble sleeping. I generally like to watch TV — which is an antiquated word for “streaming content.” I got into old awards shows. It started with watching the opening monologues by the comedic hosts, but I felt unsatisfied with the appetizer and decided I wanted the whole damn meal.
During her acceptance speech, one TV actress thanked her “team” who made sure that she ate and slept and showed up to work on time. A whole team of people to do what a teacher has to do on her own every day. That’s nice. But wait, a whole “team”? To help one person perform the essential work of … being an actor? I keep hearing how important the teaching profession is, but I don’t think anyone really believes it. Our society demonstrates who is important by what we give them. Teachers don’t make the $150-200k per year it takes to pay a personal assistant. It turns out Cypher from The Matrix was right when he said he wanted to be re-inserted into the matrix as “someone important.”
“Like an actor.”
Magazines publish stories about celebrities who “do it all.” Acting, endorsing products, attending panels and conventions, running their own production companies, parenting, and working out. What they rarely mention is how much help they have from personal assistants. If I had someone picking me up and dropping me on a spinning bike then putting a healthy snack in my mouth the second I got off the bike, I’d be in great shape, too. If my personal assistant were slapping the Funyuns out of my hand, I’d be svelte as a superstar.
A few weeks ago, while I was hole-punching a class set of copies of “I Want a Wife” by Judy Brady (1971), it occurred to me that I, too, would like a personal assistant.
Self-described “recruiting firm built for the needs of today” Pocketbook posted “How to Become a Celebrity Personal Assistant.” Tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) be available all the time, do everything. After reading the description of the job responsibilities, I got a clear picture of what my life would look like if I, a teacher, had a personal assistant.
I’ve decided my personal assistant is named Gustav.
Congratulations, Gustav. You’re hired. Here is a detailed list of your duties and responsibilities.
Good morning! It’s 5 a.m. The kids, Odie, and I sleep until 7, so don’t wake us. First, feed the cats. Know that 50% of the time, they will sniff it, wrinkle their noses, and walk away. Throw out the uneaten portion, and better luck next time, Gustav.
My kids need a healthy, convenient lunch packed — one they can both enjoy, and finish in the 10 minutes they’re allowed to eat during their 30 minute lunch. The lunch must go in the backpacks. By the way, my kids hate everything good for them, so be creative! Get those lunches packed and put in the backpacks by 7:45 because you have to get the kids to school by 8.
I also have to leave by 7:45, but I, too, have some needs. I need my hydroflask filled with water, and I need a healthy snack and a healthy lunch. Something delicious and nutritious I can enjoy in 5 minutes (snack) and 15 minutes (lunch) respectively. By the way, I hate everything good for me.
Gustav, I have 2 different preps (courses) to teach today, prep 1 twice and prep 2 once. Flip that for tomorrow. My class periods are 85 minutes long. Here are my lesson plans. Make all of my copies, prepare all my materials, and distribute them to all 38 students every period. At the end, collect and organize them, then grade them. Finally, record those grades in the school’s online grade book. I know our system doesn’t import grades from Google Classroom, so you’ll need to enter the grades there, then take a screenshot of the scores, then input those grades by hand into the online grade book. No, there is not an easier way. Yes, it’s completely stupid and wastes hours of time.
While I’m teaching, answer all my emails. Yes, even from the students who are currently IN the room, and could just as easily raise their hands and ask me that question to my face. Welcome to the modern classroom, Gustav.
Walk around the class continuously and tell students to remove their ear buds while I’m teaching. You will need to do continuous loops because as soon as they spend a few moments without ear buds, they will put them back in their ears and you will have to tell them again. What’s that? When you were in school you had to listen to the teacher during class? Haha! Me, too! But these kids don’t have to listen. Why? I don’t know why.
Gustav, after school you must go pick up the children and take them to lacrosse practice (Pringles) and the park (Viva). No, it cannot be the same park. Someone might figure out they are sisters and they will be furious. Pringles will be at practice until 6, and she needs a healthy, filling snack before she goes, not only because she didn’t eat her lunch, but also because she needs some energy for practice. Viva wants to hang out with her friends until exactly 4:30. You will pick her up and take her home. She will likely have told 2-3 friends you’d be happy to give them a ride to their respective homes also, so plan on that. Once Viva is home, throw away the lunch she didn’t eat, and make her something to tide her over until dinner. By the way, she hates everything, but she is so hungry that she is going to die. Go back to the other park and get Pringles and bring her home. Referee their fights about the air conditioner in their room, and who gets to use the Playstation.
The Hello Fresh bag is in the fridge. Make dinner! While Odie and I are eating and the children are talking about the foods they wish they were eating instead of the delicious meal you have prepared, do a load of laundry and fold the load you did this morning. You remembered to do a load of laundry at 5 a.m. this morning, right? Look, I can’t remember everything; I need you to anticipate my needs and take some initiative. After dinner, scrape the vegetables into the worm compost bin and the meat into Tupperware for sandwiches. Wash the dishes. Feed the cats.
I’ve had a hard day and I need to bitch about it. Listen to me with sympathy, humor, and a glass of wine or a margarita that you have provided. I need you to be my friend as well as my employee. I don’t have time to nurture relationships. I also do not have the energy to listen to anyone and I’m gonna need you to leave me alone after you make sure I have what I need to wind myself down.
Make sure the kids brush their teeth and change their clothes before bed. I don’t want them sleeping in their school clothes. And they’ll need tomorrow’s outfits laid out and ready to go. Let them pick out the clothes, because your taste, like mine, is probably “trash.”
Gustav, it’s 9:00 and I’m sure you’d like to go home and see your own family or significant other. I’ll see you later. And by “later” I mean 11 p.m. when you sneak into the kids’ bedroom and make sure they aren’t sleeping with their headphones and screens on. Yes, I know you told them at bedtime to put those away. You’re preaching to the choir.
And now, it’s time for you to make love to my husband. Just kidding. Unless you’d be willing to? No, no, no. I’m totally joking. Totally. Ha ha.
See you tomorrow at 5 a.m.! Except I won’t because you’re not waking me until 7. Congratulations on the end of this relentless day.
My God. Who wouldn’t want a personal assistant?
So, That Happened
I’ll be back to a regular posting schedule next week.
Everyone recovered from Covid.
Monday morning I was showering and raw sewage bubbled up from the drain. It was a horror movie come to life. It wouldn’t drain and the toilet wouldn’t flush. Did I mention we have one bathroom?
We’ve done this dance three times this year, and at least twice a year since we moved into this rental in 2018. Not the literal shit dance that I did in the shower, but rather the plumber rigmarole with my landlord.
He has known for 4 years that he needs to descale and hydrojet the old pipe. I’ve stood in our bathroom with him and a plumber at least four times with the toilet removed, staring at a 70 year old cast iron pipe that has narrowed to two inches in diameter. It’s always a different plumber, because after landlord tells the plumber he’s crazy and it doesn’t need that, he sends the plumber away (unpaid) and then the next time our shower and toilet clog, the list of plumbers who refuse to come to our house gets longer. Always while we’re at work, someone comes and does some sort of patch job that makes it work (slowly) for 4 weeks to 5 months, and then we do the dance all over again.
Enough is enough. We’re moving. So I’ve spent the last week and a half on all the rental apps, dodging scams, visiting awful rentals, pining for rentals I can’t afford, and forgetting to eat and sleep. We found our dream house and applied then waited four days for good news. The rental agent texted me that the landlord was deciding between us and one other applicant. In the end, we didn’t get chosen.
“I dreamed a dream and now that dream has gone from me.”
Then I dreamed a bigger dream and got a better house. I’m picking up the keys tomorrow.