My dearest teaching widower had to develop patience and an extraordinary listening ear when I took my first teaching job. Mostly unprepared but wildly enthusiastic at age 18, I taught a summer Head Start class. I was a bit concerned about crowd control but my biggest challenge turned out to be the teaching assistant assigned to my room.
My assistant’s surname created an unfortunate rhyme, but I could live with that. I’ll call her Mrs. Horse for this post. She was probably 100 years older than me (yes, I was afflicted with ageism) and spent the day huddled in a corner, hacking her lungs out. Oddly, Mrs. Horse was also tethered to an empty cola bottle.
I started to get suspicious of Mrs. Horse’s hacking when she repeatedly schlepped off attempts to deliver her TB test results. I began to appreciate her distance from the class, although she still gave me the evil eye on those infrequent occasions when I caught her attention. But the killer was how her cola bottle slowly filled up throughout the day, instead of being drained. It wasn’t too long before I caught Mrs. Horse in the act of filling that bottle. Yuck.
Mrs. Horse was gone after a loooong three weeks. My dearest teaching widower had to reassure me that TB is not that contagious and she was far away from me most of the time. I survived and my widower gained much-needed practice for the future.