On October 17, I worked outside at school. What I thought would be a simple day of improving the curb appeal of our school turned into a much bigger ordeal, involving phone calls to the building and grounds supervisor and to the assistant superintendent. Of course, I was oblivious to all of this as I dug, tugged, planted, and weeded without a care.
Construction is set to start on our building this next week. A couple of years ago, the community passed a referendum allowing us to build a much needed new middle school. With the building of this school, the district made a pledge to the community that the two middle school facilities would be equal and equivalent. Therefore, since the new building would have a stage and fancy new ‘cafetorium’, then our 'old' school needed one as well. So construction starts soon, involving tearing off the east wall of the gym.
The landscaping around the building was installed back in 1999 when the school was built (told you it was old!), and hasn’t been maintained much since. Oh sure, there have been some bushes pruned (don't get me started on ignorant shearing...er...pruning!), and mulch laid down each spring, but for the most part, it’s been forgotten and neglected. There were holes where plants have died and have never been replaced, leaving big holes in the plantings around the foundation. There were dandelions that looked as though we were growing them as crops - some sort of outdoor science experiment.
Toward the end of September, the building principal from one of the elementary schools came by unannounced to see what parts of the existing landscaping (in the construction zone) could be removed and replanted at his school, as a sort of fast, cheap (i.e. FREE) way of sprucing up his grounds for an upcoming outdoor dedication ceremony. Needless to say, that did not sit well with the assistant principal, who already feels as though the junior high is the black sheep of the district.
She then approached me so see if I had any ideas. My plan was to move everything in the construction zone into the gaps of the existing landscaping. That would mean digging up the big daylily clumps, dividing them, and replanting them around the front. "Go for it!" she said. "I'll get you a substitute, and you can have the day to do some much needed yard work around here, since we can't get Duane to do it!"
So, I had just settled in for the job – put my iPod in my ear so I could finish Angels and Demons which had been started but never finishedon the long trek to Destin this summer – when the guy in charge of the district’s grounds (i.e. mowing) shows up and asks what I’m doing.
How much do I say? Do I admit I'm a teacher from this building doing HIS work? Do I call him all the names I'd overheard being flung in his direction? Do I outright lie?
But I restrained myself. I told the truth...just not all of it. I explained that I was just moving some plants around before construction commenced, and he thought it was great – one less thing for him to have to do. However, once he reported that fact back to his boss, a phone call was made to the building principal. Then somehow the assistant superintendent in charge of facilities became involved. As I look back, I'm glad the union didn't become involved.
Fortunately, I was able to finish my work, the landscaping was much improved, and thoughts that maybe now the powers-that-be will take our requests a little more seriously dared to float around my head (silly, silly thoughts!).
Once I finished dividing and transplanting all the daisies, daylilies, and Echinacea, it all had to be watered. When the custodian went to find the hose and the faucet key, it turns out the hose had been taken to another building (didn't I mention the black sheep thing earlier?). So the head of building and grounds was called, the situation explained, and he promised to have them watered over the weekend.
Monday comes, and the plants still are wilted. During the day, I happen to see the head of B&G in the office, and I ask him personally if he would make sure they are watered. Amid big grins and much head bobbing, he assured me they would be. Naturally, it rained about a quarter of an inch that night, so he probably figured he didn’t have to water.
Now the transplanted plants are dried up little bumps in the ground. I guess his laziness just cost the district a few hundred dollars in plant replacements. But I also guess that they won’t be replaced, and we’ll be left with holes again. Sigh.
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