I am THAT person in the Teacher's Lounge.
My friends who teach will know exactly what I'm referring to. The lunch bell rings and after you've ushered out the charming future criminals and leaders of American on their merry way, you head towards the lounge. Inevitably you calculate your walk there, and run into your colleagues/friends with whom you sit. That's when you enter into the lounge and sense instinctively that the entire dynamic of the space is off kilter; there's a sub in YOUR seat.
True to form, teachers are creatures of habit. At the start of the school year, a seating chart-if you will-is established. Everyone knows where they sit and it's never questioned. The problem only arises when new people show up or when an innocent sub, looking for escape from the freezing classroom she's babysitting in, wants a flesh-thawing respite. She unknowingly has taken your seat. And it's all weird and awkward because you're not sure where to sit now. But only you know that. She has no idea that now you can't discus the latest episode of The Hills, or The Office, with your friend. How could something like that be shared across the table?
Except today, you was them, and the sub was me, and I KNEW I was in someones seat. And it sucked. I felt it immediately. The polite smile that lasted a little too long; nothing threatening, just the slight detection of annoyance. Oh, she must be a sub. How cavalier of me to believe that any seat was available.
I shoved in my last Trader Joe's Honey Whole Wheat Pretzel Stick and quickly left, headed back for the sub zero freezer referred to as Room 109. I think I almost heard a sigh of relief as the door closed behind me. Figures.
This is what it feels like not to belong.
Not knowing where the thermostat is located,
no knowing how to use the thermostat,
not to be part of a daily something-
not to have a seat at the table.