The Perils of Louella:

Chapter 197: Louella Seeks Supplies

by A.C. Cherbonnier
       LOUELLA studied her class schedule. “Is it normal to have different classes every single day?” she asked the others in the faculty room. “Or is it just because I’m a substitute?”
       Joe Dunn lowered his copy of People magazine. “It’s like that for all of us. They think it keeps us fresh, ya know? Like if you have a class at the end of the day you’re wiped out, and so are the kids, so they fix it so you see each other at different times of the day.”
       “Yeah,” chimed in Celia Hammond. “Can’t say as I’ve seen any difference, though. It just makes you forget what you’re doing. Some administrator gets paid big bucks to think this stuff up.” She blew on a new coat of nail polish.
       “Bet you wonder why we’re not doing any teaching work, huh?” asked Joe.
       “Well, when do you do it?” asked Louella. “At home after school?”
       “Nah--I save mine up for once a week,” said Celia. “No sense knocking yourself out. I mean, half the kids don’t show up to pick up their papers anyway. The parents could care less. It’s a two-way street.”
       “Got that right!” said Joe. “I mean, first you have to get them to do an assignment. And even if you could get them to do the work, you’d still have the problem of finding them some books or giving them a hand-out. There’s days I feel like I’m the best-paid babysitter in the State of Maryland.”
       “Speaking of which,” Louella changed the subject. “Where can I find some math books for my kids? Is there a book room?”
       “Oh, honey! You wish!” said Celia. “Used to be we kept track of the books and all, but then one time at the end of the school year, they came in and took all the books to a central place, and now we can’t get them back.”
       “Don’t they have a computer or something, so you can see what’s available, and then order them?”
       “Sure, right! Haven’t you been reading about how the school system hasn’t got their computer act together?” asked Celia. “I mean, they’re on their second twelve million dollars, and we still can’t get simple information like that. And even if we could get it up on the screen, we can’t print it out.”
       “Why not?”
       “They say the programs aren’t compatible with the printers yet. But with this school, that’s moot, because we don’t have a printer that’s working anyhow.”
       “Yeah,” added Joe. “I can’t print out our curriculum guide either.”
       “Is that where they have the curriculum guides? On the computer?”
       “Supposedly,” drawled Celia.
       “So where’s there a computer?”
       “Used to be we had one in here, but it got stolen,” said Celia. “Anyway, you wouldn’t have been able to log on, ’cause you don’t have an access code. They don’t want unauthorized people messing with the system.”
       “Well, what about some xerox paper and a copier? Where’s that?”
       Joe and Celia exchanged glances. “You have to requisition the paper,” said Joe. “And then you have to see if the copier in the office is working and if they’ll let you use it. Maybe yes, maybe no.”
       “What a pain!” said Louella. “How do you stand it?”
       “Just waiting for that 30 years to pass,” said Celia, flashing a smile.


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This story was published on June 1, 2000.