Leave It Better & Better Leave

Our supervisor at school bought us a Keurig machine. I'm grateful even though I don't use it often. It produces too much waste and only average coffee — I'll stick with the Aeropress — but every so often on a tough day I'll make a cup. Most always, I find a spent pod in the machine. I shake my head at that.

In an old interview, James Carville talked about always leaving things better than you find them. He borrowed a friend's cabin and before leaving, cleaned it and set a fresh bottle of good bourbon on the kitchen table. That image appeals to me. No note, just the bottle and an understanding of how things should be done.

I'm not the best at leaving things better at school, but I put the toilet seat down, remove the coffee pod, and am supportive of my colleagues. These seem the most common of courtesies.

A few of us encourage courtesy and collegiality at school, but it's an uphill push. I called in sick and received a group text from a co-worker complaining about picking up my slack. I understand the frustration — the organization should provide coverage but can't get it together — but her text was anything but collegial.

How will I leave this school I'm quitting? Not with a bottle of bourbon on the desk, much as those left behind will need it. I didn't a cabin from a friend. I've worked a punishing job as well as I have been able and was paid for my efforts. We're square. I'll go out the door leaving nothing behind but the job which has been like a Keurig: convenient but wasteful and unsatisfying. I'll miss a couple people. Others leave pods in the machine or complain about me when it's the organization's fault. And those in charge have inadvertently encouraged me to run away fast as I can.

A new teacher will take the classroom next year. I'll have cleaned out some stuff, left things I think might be useful, and leave, in lieu of bourbon, a wish that things work out better for them or that they figure things out much faster than I did and get the hell out of there fast as the Keurig brews a bad cup of coffee.