At the end of the school year, I had an awakening. It all started when I left school in the middle of the day to run an errand as the senior class advisor. Unbeknownst to me, I was about to enter the world of the unknown, the world of the normal adult workday.
I’ve never paid much attention to what other adults do during the workday. During the summer, I’m not working myself, so I don’t give workers much thought. It wasn’t until I had the chance to mimic a “regular” adult during the workday that I started to notice some unusual things. As I sat in the local coffee shop waiting for my lunch and instinctively checking my watch with that nervous twitch that I’ve developed in anticipation of a bell going off in the middle of a bite, here were some of my thoughts: Do they always take so much time to eat lunch? Wow, they talk a lot. Was that a swear word?
I decided to do some investigative work. Here are some of the differences I uncovered in a teacher day vs. any other workday.
1. They talk to other adults.
Conversations about your favorite dinosaur or the best college major are fine for one day but try to entertain these conversations day in and day out for 180 days. Try asking your lawyer cousin if he’s ever really seen a fly wearing a tie down the bay, and then be prepared for looks of concern and confusion. Why? Because adults in other professions talk to other adults all day long, and unless they have small children, they are not likely fluent in “teacher talk.”
2. Speaking of talking, they finish those conversations.
Have you ever had a conversation with another adult while your eyes are locked in on someone else, yet the other person continues talking as if you’re making normal eye contact? If so, you’re definitely a teacher. As a teacher, you’re usually too busy multi-tasking and watching for potentially misbehaving students to have a real conversation from start to finish.
This doesn’t happen to people in the “real world.” They just causally look each other in the eye and converse back and forth until their conservation is finished!
3. They take sick days when they’re sick.
No one sucks it up when they’re sick like teachers. When adults in other professions are sick, they’re actually told to stay home by their bosses and colleagues. They simply take a sick day when they’re sick. There’s no reason to make a detailed plan for someone else to fill their shoes for the following day, and there’s no worry that they can’t find someone to take their place in their absence. For most adults, their work just gets put on halt for a day.
4. And when they come back to work after being sick, they don’t have a mess to clean up.
Is there any other profession that requires workers to have substitutes? For most working adults, they never have to experience the dreaded substitute note with records all of the mishaps you’ll have to fix when you get back to work.
5. They eat and actually taste their food.
Almost all working adults that I have encountered have an hour long lunch break. I know the look on your face right now, and I’m making it too. Enough said.
6. They use “adult language.”
SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! People in the real world swear at work? (See what I did there?) Naturally, this one is all about context, but the bottom line is that other adults don’t worry about their coworker’s mom calling them up because they slipped and said a**.
7. They pee when nature calls.
Just when you thought you mastered the three-minute, between-bell conservation, nature calls. One longer-than-necessary student story, one “What did I miss yesterday?,” one co-worker phone call, and your time is up. You can’t leave your students unattended or interrupt your lesson flow. Will you ever get to go? It can be agonizing. Here’s a fact that may sting so brace yourself: people who work in the “real world” just go pee whenever they have to go.
8. They don’t get a summer break.
Sure, this list makes a typical adult workday seem like a walk in the park compared to teaching, but if it’s any consolation, they don’t get a summer break.