In an effort to get out the house and make some money (completely separate objectives, but both equally worth merit), I’m going to be doing some tutoring at a local primary school. Helping an eleven year old touch up his English, basically, before he takes his common entrance into secondary school. I’m sure it’ll be life-affirming and fulfilling and all of the things that films like Dead Poet’s Society and Good Will Hunting teach us that teaching is. I’m basically going to be Robin Williams for an hour every week. I’m working on the beard and rampant arm hair, honest.
Anyway, before she’ll leave me alone with her son, the mother (understandably) wanted to meet with me first. Now, the school in question is about twenty miles, and a whole lot of hassle, to get to. First I have to cycle a good half an hour to the nearest train station, then another twenty minute train journey, before a change, and then fifteen more minutes before I get at the stop closest to the school. Then I have a fifteen minute walk up a very steep hill to get to the school. I’m not really complaining; I enjoy travelling, even if it’s such a short distance, and an excuse to crack out my bike and cycle through idyllic (albeit wet and rainy and muddy, today), fields and country lanes. And the walk isn’t all bad either.
But that amount of exercise necessitates clothing that isn’t the kind you can wear to the first meeting with a considerably upper class mother at a private primary school whose ceilings look like they were built for the giant in Twin Peaks to finally be able to stand up straight. So I do the cycle, the train journey, and the walk in exercise clothes, get to the school, and change into something presentable. I’m ushered into the meeting, talk to her for about five minutes, long enough for her to get a good idea of whether I’m a pedophile or not, and go over everything we’ve already talked about on the phone. I leave, get changed back into my travelling clothes, and head on my way. Three hours of travel for five minutes, just to assuage a mother’s worry.
All in all, I felt somewhat like an extra in a film, except I got a speaking line. I’m not really needed for most of the day, but when my time to shine comes up, I’m dragged onto set, only to perform admirably, before I’m shuffled off into whatever dark corner extras reside in when they’re not filling up empty space. It might sound like I’m complaining, but I’m really not; I’m getting paid well for what I’m doing, and I think a parent is entitled to know who your child is getting left alone with. It’s just.. that’s a hell of a lot of time and effort for those five minutes. I suppose it’s a lot like an interview, except I’ve already got the job, even if I’m not starting it for a few more days. It’s a reassurance.
You know what it all boils down to? It’s the clothes. If I’d turned up in the clothes I’d traveled in, and explained why I was wearing them, I’m sure she’d have been fine about it. But it’s that niggle in the back of her mind, thinking that perhaps I’m not going to put effort into a first impression, so I might not put effort into the tutoring of her son. I made the effort, and all I did was avoid a negative. I think that’s what I’m getting at, that’s the alien feeling. I’m used to putting in effort and getting something out of it, rather than not losing something. I’m maintaining a status quo, rather than progressing. And that feels like a backwards step.
Or, y’know, maybe I’m just overanalysing a five minute meeting, because it took up so much of my day. The important thing is, I don’t think she’s too worried about me pulling a Lenny and crushing her son’s skull while I’m ruffling his hair in a friendly manner. That’s the important thing.