xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: All by myself I get lonely...

Sunday, 20 September 2015

All by myself I get lonely...

Bobby Darin had a some great hits back in the late fifties and sixties. A couple of them were about loneliness, including classic Golden Oldies such as “Me and My Shadow” and “All by Myself ”. Fortunately, I have never really suffered from the pangs of loneliness, although, there was one occasion when I was left all alone. Unlike Bobby Darin, who said he was left all alone, feeling blue, I was left all alone feeling puzzled. Or maybe bemused.

At the time I was working for Edith Cowan University, observing, advising and mentoring student teachers on their teaching practice in schools. I did this job for eleven years and really enjoyed being involved with eager and enthusiastic trainee teachers and their hard working and dedicated classroom mentor teachers. Over the years I visited about twenty different schools and developed positive, professional and friendly relationships with the teachers and administrators in these schools. Well, all except one, that is.

It wasn’t one of my regular schools, but I had been asked to call in and see a practice student to help out a colleague who was indisposed. My first classroom visit was scheduled for 11-00am. I turned up at the school, by appointment, at about 10-00am in order to introduce myself to the principal, meet with the school’s Practice Co-ordinator and also to find out exactly whereabouts my student’s classroom was.

After a brief meeting with the principal, I met the Practice Co-ordinator who took me to the classroom and introduced me to the teacher and her practice student. The Practice Co-ordinator then told me that she had to hurry away because she and the principal had a parent meeting to attend to at 10-45am. By that time it was about 10-30am and the classroom teacher said that I was welcome to go to the staff room for a cup of coffee. She said that Morning Recess was at 10-40am but she and her student would not be going to the staff room as they wanted to get everything ready for the 11-00am lesson.

So, following the directions she gave me, I found myself in the staffroom a few minutes before the siren sounded for Morning Recess.  I was looking forward to my caffeine shot for the morning and for some stimulating conversation with some of the thirty or so teaching staff.

The staffroom was of a rather long and narrow design. At one end was a stainless steel sink, an instant hot water urn, a refrigerator, a toaster and a medium sized micro wave oven. On the shelves above the sink were supplies of coffee, tea, sugar, sweeteners and some packets of biscuits. I quickly made myself a cup of coffee, dropped a $2.00 coin in the Visitors' Cup and went to sit at one of the three large tables that stretched lengthwise down the room. These tables had five cushioned chairs on either side of them.

There was no one in the room so I decided to sit at the middle table, facing directly opposite the doorway leading in to the staffroom. This left a large empty table on my left, near the sink, and a large empty table on my right at the other end of the room. I thought that by sitting facing the doorway, at the middle table, all the staff coming in to the room would see that I was a visitor in their midst.

The siren signalling recess sounded and about a minute later a young lady entered. I looked at her but she did not make any eye contact as she moved to make herself a cup of tea. I watched her as she moved away from the sink and sat in a chair at the end of the table on my left. After that, four staff members arrived. Again, I watched them enter the room but none of them made eye contact. They moved straight to the sink area and chatted happily as they made their tea and coffee. Then they also went and sat at the table on my left. A few more staff entered and they also sat at the table on my left. Eventually, the ten chairs at the table on my left were all occupied and I figured that soon some staff members would sit at my table and I would not be sitting at that middle table all alone, just like Bobby, “All by myself in the morning…”

Well, more staff did come in. They did not make any eye contact either. As they moved away from the sink with their cups and biscuits they saw that the table on my left was full so they moved down the room and sat at the table on my right. I could hear Bobby Darin singing, “All alone, I’m so all alone.”
I watched as more staff arrived and also chose to sit at the table on my right. “I sit alone, with a table and a chair…”  Yes, there I sat, all alone at a big table with not one, but  nine empty chairs, in what was now quite a noisy staffroom There were ten people at the table on my left and ten people at the table on my right.

With both of these tables filled, I felt certain that  I was soon going to have company at my big empty table in the middle. More staff came in. To my surprise they surveyed the room, looked at my table, though not directly at me, and then they did a very strange thing. They came to my table and they took chairs from it and went and squeezed in with their colleagues at the other two tables. This was an independent Christian based private school. Whatever happened to "Love your neighbour"? Even a neighbourly "Hello"would have been nice

There I was, all by myself at a table with no chairs and thirty chatty people crowded around tables on my left and on my right. “All by myself I get lonely, watching the clock on the shelf…”  Well, just Like Bobby I did start watching that clock on the shelf, except it was not on the shelf. It was a large wall clock above the entry doorway. That clock told me it was 10-55am, so I figured I may as well finish my cup of coffee and move off to the classroom to observe the 11-00am lesson.

I drank my coffee and was just about to push my chair back when the young lady, who had been the first person into the room after me, looked across from where she was sitting at the table on my left and said to me in a very friendly voice, “Don’t sit there all alone, bring your chair over here and sit with us.”

There were quite a few things that I could have said to her but I just thanked her politely and  replied that I had some tasks to attend to.

As just me and my shadow walked out of that staffroom, I imagined a fellow teacher leaning in to ask that young lady, "Who was that tasked man."

To which she may have replied, "I think he was the Lone Stranger."


  1. Jane who might be a relation23 September 2015 at 18:11

    Staff rooms can be like that. Not ours though - we make everyone so welcome that they want to be there permanently! xx

  2. So nice to get a comment, thank you, Jane.
    I spent many happy times in school staff rooms, though. I know some can be quirky. Like the person who always insists in sitting in the same seat. In one staff room we had trouble with a teacher who used to come to school at 8-00am and eat most of the biscuits for his breakfast. In another we had a teacher who was having her lunch, or a piece of fruit stolen every day. We set a watch on the staff room to see if any students were going in during class time to steal the lunch. No luck. Eventually we discovered the culprit was another teacher who was jealous of her coleague's popularity..

  3. An element of mistrust exists in every workplace when a 'stranger' appears I believe. I don't blame anyone, it's just human nature to be cautious.

  4. Hi Noel,
    Perhaps the staff thought you were a member of a ERG team!

  5. It was a Catholic school, Neil. Do they get erged?


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