Slice of Life 27: Conversation after Class
By Janice Ewing
I had been warned by a previous instructor that the night custodian was irritable, and just couldn’t wait for the class to leave so he could finish up his end-of-evening chores. I hadn’t met him until last night, when he came in to empty the trash. The last students had just left and I was still gathering my things.
“How ya doin’?” I heard the gruff voice before I saw him.
“Okay,” I responded, “I’ll be out in a minute,” I said as I struggled with the zipper of my computer case.
“It’s okay,” he said, as he removed the bulging trash bag and replaced it with a new one. “Still raining?” I asked, wanting to say something as I stuffed a few more papers into my bag.
“No,” he said. “They’re sayin’ more rain in the morning, but what do they know…”
I understood that we were having the universal ‘can’t trust weather forecasters’ conversation, clearly on neutral ground, so I murmured a sound of agreement.
“Well, as long as it’s not ice,” I added.
“You know what I care about – nice weather for Easter, that’s what I want.”
I nodded, as we were now making eye contact.
“You know what I do, I just put one big Easter basket together. Then they can come over and take whatever the hell they want. Know what I mean?”
I thought I did. “You mean your relatives?”
“Yeah, the nieces and nephews, there’s no kids at home anymore.”
I added that I didn’t have kids at home anymore either.
“That candy’s so expensive. Last year I bought a chocolate bunny that size (pointing to my Dunkin Donuts medium iced coffee cup), eight bucks, and it was hollow!
“Yeah, that’s how they are,” I commiserated, “then they go on sale the next day.”
“Mhmm,” he agreed.
By this point, my bags were packed and the room was in order. For a moment, we both seemed to have forgotten that we were in a hurry to leave. We’d bonded, briefly, over the hollowness of weather forecasts and chocolate bunnies.
* This “Slice of Life” post is part of a larger blog series, hosted by the blog site, Two Writing Teachers: A Meeting Place for a World of Reflective Writers.
Janice Ewing is an adjunct for Cabrini College and a co-director for the Pennsylvania Writing & Literature Project. Janice co-facilitates PAWLP’s “Continuity Days” and this blog. She is an avid reader and writer, and especially enjoys writing poems.
The last line is powerful. And I think it’s wonderful that you took the time to chat with him. Maybe he’s not so grumpy after all. 🙂
I love the humanity in your piece. You show how wrong the previous instructor was with that wonderful exchange instead of telling us or providing commentary that would diminish the effect of this brief but genuine conversation. And I agree that your closing line is brilliant!
I, too, loved that last line! Enjoyed your slice today!
Love that last line, Janice – the hollowness of weather forecasts and Easter bunnies.Such are the niceties we exchange. Bet your next one will sound even less gruff.
With conversations about rainy days and chocolate bunnies, I hope you and your students are headed to spring break.