Monday, September 16, 2013

Teachers' Cafeteria--Part I

Teachers' Cafeteria
Part I

I was sitting in the silence
Of the basement cafeteria,
Towards the ending of the school day,
With all the teachers gone.

I was sitting in that silence,
In that oasis of quiet,
And I heard a constant humming
That I couldn't really trace.

So I sat there and I listened
And I wondered what it was.
Perhaps it was the humming
Of machines – perhaps of pumps.

It was cold there in the basement,
Though all the lights were on.
The lights were all fluorescent,
So they didn't warm at all.

And the quality of air there,
I'd noticed, wasn't best.
I breathed a little deeper
And I thought to take a rest.

So I looked towards the couches –
Inviting, checkered green –
And I briefly thought of taking
A little nap, unseen.

But no – I looked and saw then,
From the clock upon the wall,
That the bell would soon be ringing,
So I couldn't rest at all.

The school day, it had ended,
But the work had now begun.
For three more hours, I'd labor,
And at six, I'd have to run.

For if they found me staying,
For much beyond that six,
They'd said they'd call policemen,
Who'd come for me with sticks.

2013 mid-September
teachers' cafeteria, basement, New Utrecht High School
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn


Please see also: 

   Teachers' Lounge

Those verses were written in the teacher's lounge of the Brooklyn Studio Secondary school, when I had begun subbing again after working for a year at the nearby New Utrecht High School.  Teachers' lounges are a rarity in the New York City public school system.

The Brooklyn Studio Secondary School is in the Bensonhurst district of southwestern Brooklyn.  The building is on 21st Avenue, between 83rd St. and 84th  St.  It contains both a senior high school (grades  9-12) and a junior high school (grades 6-8).  An adjoining building (which can be accessed from the basement) houses an elementary school (kindergarten to grade 5).  There was a time when a student might spend all his/her years of K-12 schooling in those two buildings.

The New Utrecht High School is also in Bensonhurst.  The school building stands between 79th and 80th Streets and between 16th and New Utrecht Avenues.  This six-story building, which towers above the surrounding residential ones, can be clearly seen on Google Earth, along with the school's playing field and the elevated train tracks over New Utrecht Avenue.

Both of these schools must be close to a hundred years old.  When I looked up their buildings on the NY City Map website, at,  I found that the current buildings for the Brooklyn Studio Secondary School and the New Utrecht High School have official construction dates of 1909 and 1931 respectively.  However, I think that the original school at the first site commenced operation a few years later, around 1913, which would make the school there, in all its incarnations, a century old as of now (2013), while the second (New Utrecht) started a few years later.

Please see also:

   Teachers' Cafeteria--Part II

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