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It funny what sticks isn’t it? There are some things that (for reasons unbeknownst to this humble writer) have lodged themselves firmly in the recesses of my mind, never to be lost or forgotten. There’s a fair bit of William Blake’s poetry in there jostling for position with which pipes you can go down to collect some coins in Super Mario Bros and an extended and exhaustive list of early 80s horror movie runtimes – y’know, really useful stuff that has limitless practical application in everyday life.
And yet, could I ever keep my duty day straight in my head from one week to the next? Could I ever pluck it from the distant deeps of my memory before the point where an irate member of SLT came bursting in just as I had my feet up to enjoy my post-lesson Curly Wurly looking almost purposefully relaxed and nonchalant just to rub it in?
Of course I couldn’t. I mean, that stuff’s actually useful. My brain has no time for that there useful stuff.
There’s no sprint faster than a missed duty sprint. You fly. But as fast as you go there’s still no gold medal waiting for you once you’ve passed the finish line, unless you count a huge sense of guilt and some choice eye-rolling as something of a prize. I don’t. For me a real prize is a bunch of gold coins that can be found in the 4th pipe just before the invisible 1UP block on level 1-1)
It’s those kind of mistakes that, if they’re repeated, can get you a name in a school. It’s not a complimentary one like ‘Hotlips’ or something like that either. People notice the people that miss their duty day. A mark is made (probably in some medieval tome fashioned in human flesh and inked in blood like in The Evil Dead which is 85 minutes long, in case you’re wondering) and the ink doesn’t tend to come off that easily.
Because missing a duty, whether it be break or dinner or bus (which is my personal favourite as there’s nothing quite like making sure the kids are all stowed away properly on what could best be described as a doubledecker pirate ship on wheels) means that someone else has to take up your slack. And just because you’ve got a mental blind spot doesn’t mean that someone else won’t have to get out there on your behalf and start chucking kids into waiting transports like so much luggage. That person might have had a seriously bad day and then it’s topped off by standing out in the rain because Mr Curley Wurley can’t get his act together and actually write down the day when he’s supposed to be hurling children onto the good ship Lynx and Red Bull.
I learnt quite quickly that excuses such as ‘my brain is too full of other things’ don’t really cut it. You’ve got to do your part or you end up leaving others in the lurch and in a job that’s quite difficult-enough-as-it-is-thank-you-very-much, that’s something nobody needs. Everyone works hard and if someone has to work that extra bit harder due to someone else not pulling their weight it can really sting. A dropped duty may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things but in the world of the school, it can signify is a lack of respect for the time and efforts of your colleagues and that shirking of responsibility looms large.
Sometimes you’ve just got to put down the Curlew Wurley, pick up a planner and make sure you’ve got your duty days there before you leave on a Friday. Blake and Mario and gore-laden chainsaws are all well and good but sometimes making a little head room for the really important stuff; the stuff that means that you’ll never get a name for yourself as someone who doesn’t really care about whether their colleagues end up doing someone else’s work because you always turns up for your afternoon of press-ganging Year 7 onto the Jolly Discarded Crisp Wrapper and you take you duty to do your duties seriously.
Thanks for reading.