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If Teachers Were Allowed to Carry Flasks, I Maybe Could Do that Job, Too.

The checkout lady at the grocery store thought I was a teacher.

She scanned the glue stick I’d purchased in order to assemble approximately 587 open house invitations for work (okay, maybe it was 120) later that evening, and then asked the question.

“Are you a teacher?”  Big smile.

I looked at the artichoke, thick hickory smoked bacon, 2 bars of salted chocolate, green onions, cauliflower, and four bottles of wine that followed the little orange stick down the moving assembly line counter, like good little students on their way to lunch.

My friend Katie (yes, another Katie), who actually is a teacher, suggested that it must have been the wine — not the glue stick — that tipped her off.

And I have to agree.

Sometimes I think maybe I’d like to be a teacher.  Only not the glue stick-wielding, double line-arranging, hand-holding kind because things like craft projects and untied shoe laces and stalactite boogers make me uncomfortable.

And I have very little patience.

And I wouldn’t have nearly a big enough wine budget.

But sometimes I think I’d like to be the Dr.-preceeding, university-working, wall-to-wall office bookshelf-having kind.

I’m not sure what I’d teach, but I would teach it well.  I’d find a way to reach into the minds of impressionable young people — people who actually want to learn — and mold their pliable little brains into whatever strong-yet-imperfect sculpture I think future generations should uphold.


Like my friend Dennis would attest, though he’d somehow manage to avoid the cliché, that’s easier said than done.

Which is probably why I’m not a teacher.

But here’s the thing.

Each and every one of us has the opportunity to teach something every day — whether it’s part of our actual job or not.

From the way we speak to the lady behind the grocery store checkout counter who somehow mistakes us for someone who might choose to hang out with 30 children all day to the way we react when our spouses tell us they dropped and cracked the iPhones they refused to adorn with heavy-duty cases because they didn’t like the bulk, we always have the choice to handle encounters with grace and finesse over short tempers and rudeness.

With the exception of jackass drivers on the roads, I’m rarely rude to a stranger.  Where I could stand to improve is the way I am with the ones I love.

Because, whether we realize it or not, we’re always being watched.

Minds — both young and old — are always being affected by the choices we make every day.

We have the ability and choice to make someone’s day better, or to make it worse.  It’s as simple as that.

And I think, in my obviously thoughtful and optimistic state of mind this morning, that I’m going to focus on making days better.

And maybe the wall-to-wall office bookshelves will come with time.

How about you? What do you tend to choose?

P.S. I lied before when I told you that I imported all of my previous subscribers. I was wrong. This did not happen. And now I’m sad. So please re-subscribe by typing your email address into the “Subscribe to this blog via email” section in the top-right corner of the page, just below the header. I MISS you!


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Dennis Hong

Hey, thanks for the plug. Why, yes, teaching has driven me to drink. Er… drink more, that is.

Bex Hall

Loved this column/blog! I always look forward to reading what you write.

One of my favorite quotes is “Always be kinder than necessary. Everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”

And it’s so true. On the drive home yesterday (four lane with emergency vehicle only crossover spots) someone decided to stop the flow of traffic at 55-60 mph to turn into one to go the opposite direction. It was a little unnerving for me because folks were blaring their horns and rapid stops and traffic blockage. Near rear ending could have occurred.

I was a little miffed at first and then I corrected my train of thought. What if the driver had just gotten a phone call that his or her loved one was in the hospital? Or his or her house was on fire? Or then again, he or she could have just been a jackass!

You never know!

Well written Katie!


Inspirational! I like it!! I resubscribed to your page like you said to and I want to know how it knew that it was me. The autoreply said Howdy! :)


Haaahaha. I set it up like that just for you. ;)


I would never in a million years have the patience to be a teacher!


Ditto that.


Lovely! Yes, it takes practice, but the more you practice having compassion for others, the easier it becomes and the happier everyone gets. We can negatively dismiss the people who cross our paths or we can realize that they are challenged people just like we are and that we have NO IDEA what they are going through or dealing with. We all want to be happy. We all want to be free from suffering. People who behave in hurtful ways are themselves in a lot of pain. Remembering that helps me to have compassion for those I might otherwise feel negatively toward. It can be a hell of a challenge sometimes, but it’s well worth the effort!


So true! Sometimes it’s hard to remember that we’re not the only ones with problems. Or the only ones having a bad day. And I’m starting to find that lifting the moods of others lifts my own as well. So it’s kind of a win-win. :)

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