Monday, 19 May 2008

12 minutes can seem like an eternity

Last Thursday, I turned up for a meeting I was dreading, only to find the meeting room empty. I took a seat, twiddled my thumbs for a while and after five minutes I got a giddy feeling in my stomach I hadn’t experienced since high school – “Maybe I can leave?”

Whenever a teacher was late for a class, a buzz would go around that if they didn’t turn up by 12 minutes past, then we were allowed to leave. The added bonus of an unexpected free period was such that we ignored that we would just have to make the time up at a later period. And if anybody brought up the idea of going and finding another teacher, they were shouted down with desperate cries of, “The rule is 12 minutes!” and “That’s why they have the rule!” Inevitably, there would be an echoing groan as the teacher was spotted hurrying across the quad towards us.

In fact, over my six years at high school there was only one time when neither the teacher nor a proxy turned up and we actually made it out of the classroom. Even then, we were spotted walking back to the boarding house by the deputy-headmaster and sent back to the class where another member of staff was waiting with a video for us to watch in place of the lesson on asexual reproduction.

This was much like the freezing rule – allegedly if the temperature ever dropped below a certain mark (the figure was always two or three degrees below what ever the current temperature was) then it was too cold to teach and we’d be sent home. Again, I think it was just an urban legend, as it never happened to us. Roo tells me it was the same in South Africa only they’d be sent home if it got too hot so they could swim in the pool and take their family giraffe for a walk.

Despite a plea from my 14 year-old inner child to just leave, my 30 year-old actual adult decided that as I was getting paid to attend the meeting I should find out what was going on. I phoned around and discovered that the other meeting attendants had gone to the wrong room and would be with me presently. So I sat back down, ordered the notes I’d need and doodled a picture of a pig driving a tractor while I waited for the others to arrive.

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