Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Our school secretary, Nina, is retiring after 46 years of service- at the same school! Having only held a record of four years of service at the same school- that amazes me! I hope in 34 years no one blogs about me saying, "That old Mrs. Fairfield, she is FINALLY retiring after 46 years of service. We all think she lost her mind 34 years ago when she had that one class, but she held on. Rumor has it, she still visits those kids from 34 years ago in jail and she is STILL trying to teach them to read..." Seriously though, Nina is a super wonderful lady. She is not just a good secretary, she is on the ball and keeps us organized and calls all of my student's parents for me (a lot of secretaries say, "call your own damn parents Sara!"), but she is a great mom/grandma type of lady. When I found out she was retiring, I was truly hurt. I was in the office and asked Nina (in a how dare you? tone) "How dare you? Who will take care of me- I mean us?" Nina answered sweetly in her Southern Belle Accent, "Well, sweetie, I'll make sure whoever replaces me will take good care of you. I'll personally see to it." That didn't make me feel better, because I know no one will take care of me. I like having someone take care of me. I had a principal who took care of me. She kept me organized, gave me many reminders of what is coming up, prioritized my to-do's for me, and even told me (gently) to clean my desk. Others saw it as intrusive and rude. I saw it as a way to show she loved us. I have been using a lot of the office motrin lately because I have these headaches and they just won't go away (I send them home at 3:00- then they show up the next morning at 8:15). Nina unpacked a shipment of medical supplies and said, "Sara, I got more of that pain reliever you like. Do you also want some Tums?" What other secretary would think of the teachers while stocking the medicine cabinet? She is like one of those perfect moms from those shows in the 60's. She is always dressed up. Her hair is perfect and she always wears lipstick- she can even put it on perfectly without a mirror- I've seen it. I am quite sure she wrote articles for the Ladies Home Journal back when they let random people write their articles. She knows where EVERYTHING is. "Nina, where is the whiteout?"- "Door one honey." Nina, where are manila envelopes?" "Door three, dear." Most secretaries would say, "If I tell you, you won't remember. If you find it yourself, you won't ask me again." I know because I've had secretaries tell me that. Nina doesn't care how many times she has to tell you. I went in a week later and asked again, "Nina, where are the manila envelopes?" "Door three hon," as she's putting on her lipstick. She lets me whine and complain all I want without getting sick of me, she agrees with me no matter what I am saying, and treats the students like they are her grandchildren. Nina types everything on the typewriter because she can't trust the computer, "that thing doesn't work when the weather is bad." When I started school this year, I had to come in early to unpack my room. Nina welcomed me with a big old Southern welcome and told me, "this time of year is my favorite. I can't wait to get back to school. I get so bored in the summer." I looked at her blankly and thought, I love summer. I didn't get bored at all. I guess that's how you end up putting in 46 years of service. Today I went into the office singing, "now we have only 9 days left, 9 days left, 9 days left, now we only have 9 days left until they set me free!!" Nina informed me that the end of the year is always sad because the fifth graders leave and she tries to keep track of them all but she never sees a few of them. She takes pride in having "taken care of" two generations. Half of my student's parents grew up with Nina. I will miss Nina dearly. I am sure I will bawl at the retirement party tomorrow after school. I usually do, even if I don't really like the person that much. Part of it is because they say they'll visit, but you know it won't be the same, and the other part is because I am not the one retiring. This time, I know I'll cry because I know no one can replace Nina in the office, or in my heart.