At ten past the hour, I would get up from the front desk at school, and do a head count. Sometimes someone else does the headcount, leaving me to get up to move around to push in chairs. It’s a way not to stiffen my back, and keep things moving. I leave the students alone, clutching my name badge since I feel like a cat with a bell. I put my keys, normally kept on a bungee around my arm, in my hand or pocket. Either one makes noise in a quiet library.
The regulars look up and smile, a few say hello, and their heads would go back down or look ahead. It’s the start of the ascent, the climb towards midterms with tests and assignments. A few students would tell me about the workload, a few more would tell me about the workload at school then the workload at home. Most of the time I get questions about how to print assignments, where to load print accounts, and why the printers default to double-sided jobs.
I keep hearing about the pressure. The students have pressure to make their deadlines. My friends with kids have pressures to bake for the class, deal with teachers, and my friends still in teaching have mounting pressure with classroom management and keeping track of 30 kids. In that class more than half do not read or write at the expected level.
The other half, those at level or above, face pressures to get into the right school. The journey starts now to produce the grades, the extra-curricular activities, and keep one eye on the university while trying to not to have one mistake make it to YouTube or Twitter.
All the pressure. Either we experience it, or put it on ourselves. I had Billy Joel’s song in my head during a headcount this week. While writing an original draft of my post, I thought about other kinds of pressures and had Freddie Mercury in my head. Mercury and Joel had this operatic sense about life although they dealt in rock and roll. Despite hitting the airwaves in the 80’s, the songs have as much application as they did back then.
The 80’s had shoulder pads, suspenders, and Gordon Gekko saying ‘greed is good’. The Japanese awed the world with their work ethic and technology. Nobody talked much about the money snorted up the nose through cocaine to cope with pressure, or office workers dying of Karōshi, literally dying of overwork.
A person once told me the students sign up to the pressure once they applied to school. I understand. The stakes feel high if a person leaves a previous job with the hopes of never coming back to it. It’s alright to shout out the craziness, and other times sing along with Billy and Freddie (and David too.)This is ourselves…under pressure.