Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Falling a little bit in love with the old man in the elevator.

I had to go to a meeting in a large ten story building downtown this morning. My meeting was on the 9th floor. Several of us were waiting on the 1st floor for the elevator to come. A group of teachers were there. They had a meeting on the 8th floor.

We all crowded in. On the way up, one teacher was grumbling to another about our public school system's new policy of offering sensitivity training.

She said, "We don't need no help getting along."

An elderly gentleman was standing next to me. After the teachers exited on their floor, he looked at me and smiled gently.

"That teacher used a double negative," he told me. I nodded sadly.

"So, I simply discounted what she was saying," he went on. "It's unfortunate."

I smiled hugely at him.

"I like you already and I don't even know your name," I told him.

He held out his hand and we shook.

"I'm Woodrow," he said.

"I'm Maria," I said.

We both got off on the ninth floor. He went to his left and I went to my right. We waved goodbye to each other.

I think I fell a little bit in love on this raw October day.


the only daughter said...

And another human connection is made. YaY.

Eric said...

Awesome...I once fell out of love with a girl, mostly because of her poor spelling and grammar.
What can I say, I like girls who are smarter than me.

LizW said...

I also find good grammar and spelling a turn on. There, I said it! A pet peeve of mine is using "me" when it should be "I" in a sentence. Any time my kids did that, I would point it out. It must have stuck, too. My daughter now corrects her boyfriend when he makes that mistake. I would agree with Woodrow - when people use bad grammar, they do lose a great deal of credibility.

Miss Healthypants said...

Aww, I love it!! *smiles*

I am a little bit in love with the security guard at our local Walgreen's, who always smiles and says hi and said, "Hello, Precious!" to me the other day. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm not even sure I should comment. In fact, I shouldn't. But you said you fell "a little bit in love" with what? I am a teacher. I have been on that very same elevator, and I have heard that very same double negative, and I have heard far worse from the very people we entrust to educate our children. But, I have seen those very same people actually and in real time rescue children-in-need, with language that would make even you blush. Do not discount them. They teach children who don't have what your child has. Please, do not judge us before you know our jobs. Please. Everyone has been in school. That makes everyone an expert about education, right? Maybe Bing has an opinion. I don't know or pretend to know your job, but don't be so arrogant about mine.

sister AE said...

i like him too.

Skeeter said...

Hi Maria,

One can met the most interesting people on an elevator.

Best wishes,


LL Cool Joe said...

Quite often I'll meet someone like that that just touches my heart. :)

Maria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maria said...

Hi Anon,
Sorry, but I stand by my post. I was not dissing teachers. My daughter has had many incredible teachers. Yes. She does go to a Montessori school and no, that is not public education. But, even if she were in a public school, I would expect her teachers to be just as good. I think ALL children deserve that. And using good grammar is part of what she needs to be taught. That is not only my job, but her teacher's job as well.

I expect my plumber to know how to fix a toilet. I expect my dentist to know how to fill a cavity. I expect a book store owner to be knowledgeable about books. And I expect my child's teacher to know how to teach her proper grammar. It is their JOB.

Yes, I did share this story with Bing. She just laughed and shook her head. And believe me, she DELIGHTS in telling me jokes, etc. about my profession.

I think to be accepting of a teacher's bad grammar is unacceptable. We should expect no less than proper grammar. I think that teacher's salaries are deplorable. I have seen Bing's pay check and it isn't pretty. She works harder than anyone I know. I honestly believe that teachers should earn as much as doctors. But, I also believe that they have a responsibility to teach my child proper grammar. I think settling for less, is well....SETTLING.

No apologies. No sheepishness here. I thought that old man was a delight and I still do.

jelly said...

I agree with you 100% on this post...and I believe I fell alittle in love with your elevator friend as well. :-)

Eric said...

You've sure got me curious about the two you deleted, Maria.

Elizabeth said...

What I love is that you make unexpected allies wherever you go. Thanks for sharing that...


Maria said...


Eric, I deleted the first one because after I posted, I realized that I had incorrectly spelled a word!

The second one, I got a little too bitchy and cranky and I didn't think Anon deserved that just for expressing an opinion. The last one was just....right.

neetzy said...

Well, I love Woodrow and I am a teacher. I love him, not so much for correcting the grammar, but for focusing on what was important.

I am an art teacher. I also have an English certification. I admit. I sometimes forget minor grammatical rules.

Let's just hope that the teacher quoted was not an "English" teacher. Perhaps she was a gym teacher lapsing into "street talk" with her homies.

I have one class right now that is causing me to lose sleep. I have four upperclassmen (bullies and followers) amongst 15-16 special needs kids (ranging from mental retardation to autism, to emotional disturbances to minor learning disabilities. I am trying to figure out how to help the really needy kids AND keep my eyes on the jerks. I cannot get an aide because I "only teach art". This is an entry level class that no one takes seriously."

I love my job. I really do. My focus is on the disabled kids who need my help. I try not to get distracted by Beavis and Butthead. So what is a little launched clay on an average day?

Rebecca said...

My Papa's name was Woodrow. Awesome post to come back to, Maria.

BTW - Bah is back!!! Missed you, mean it!

MmeBenaut said...

Even worse when it's a teacher. What an interesting gentleman, speaking his mind like that to a total stranger. That's the type of idiotic thing that I would do.

And what on earth do you with someone who insists on pronouncing "anything" as "any think"?

And I know that I started a sentence with a conjunction which is not as bad as ending a sentence with a preposition :)

Annemarie of Holland said...

I've read this story a couple of times now, and something's starting to bother me. Initially I was charmed by the elderly gentleman as well, and I certainly agree with you on the issue of teachers - or any professional, for that matter - having to do their job right.

But now when I read it, I'm thinking: what a shame he didn't point out the double negative while the teacher was still there. It might have made her aware of things.

Plus, I'm tempted to think that even though she used a double negative in an elevator, she probably (hopefully) doesn't do so in a classroom.

And finally, her using a double negative does not necessarily mean she's unable to make a valuable contribution to society, or that she's uninteresting as a human being. It's a bit silly to dismiss someone because of one slip of the tongue.

Although that's exactly what I would have done in that situation, I admit. Is it a full moon? I'm never this open-minded!

~k said...

I'm a teacher, too. An English teacher. Just to get that on the record. *smile*
First of all, bad grammar makes me crazy. Typos on posters, misused semicolons, finishing a sentence with a know the drill.
Second, I agree that the key to your new elevator-friend's comment - a double-negative negates the statement - reveals not only his humour, but also the value of what the teacher had just dismissed as invaluable: perhaps she, and *many* other professionals, not just teachers, *do* need more awareness of sensitivity. (okay, and a bit of a grammar lesson too, maybe! *wink*)
Great story. Will continue to follow your musings,

Terroni said...

Interesting, the things that cause a little comment stir, yes? I thought it was a cute story about a charming old man. I never would have guessed that it could be read as offensive.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough. I too think ALL children, including mine, deserve the best education. And yeah, I’ve hired certified, master plumbers who have given me competitive bids, but who not only did not fix the problem but also made it worse, and I’ve trusted dentists who should never have been licensed. It’s a bitch when people with certificates and experience still aren’t worth anything, and I still have to pay them a premium. But, then, eventually, I find the keepers, those who can fix the leaks and the cavities and the comma splices and double negatives. I agree that no competent teacher should ever have been caught in a double negative. For shame.

But I too stand by my post. I still say, give her a break. That woman? That gentleman? That elevator? Once. I defend teachers who stand by legitimate credentials: the very young ones, the very tired ones, the ones who, after attending long meetings of their very own accord a long conference, pop off in the wrong elevators.

Point: But I am so tired of teacher-bashing. You say that wasn’t your intent. I understand. As a teacher, I know I must be extra-diligent not to ever be wrong about anything at any time to any one.

Fair enough.

I mean absolutely no harm, Maria. I will not ever post again. But I still disagree. Teachers, the good ones of us, mean the best for our charges. Despite their parents. Be well.