When an EFL Teacher Sits in a Waiting Room…

T'm paying attention! (Naomi's photos)
I’m paying attention!
(Naomi’s photos)

Setting: A standard looking waiting room – a couple of chairs, some magazines and a water cooler.

Participants: One tired EFL teacher, a woman whom I know slightly from the neighborhood and her 20-year-old daughter.

The Dialogue

Me: Hello! How are you?

Woman: Fine! Have you met my daughter?

(Woman turns to daughter and nods in my direction):  She’s an English teacher. (I’m not insulted that the woman doesn’t remember my name, I don’t remember hers either…).

Daughter: Really? Do you teach high-school?

Me: Yes.

Daughter: Do you teach the LITERATURE? All that “bridgingshmiding stuff? (she is referring to the “bridging tasks” we have in the Literature Program. Shmiding is her own invented word).

Me: Yes, I teach all levels.

Daughter: You know, that material was really hard. My favorite story was “The Split Cherry Tree” . (turns to her mother) You know, we learned a play and  stories and even poems in English written for native speakers. Really hard words! (turns back to me) But I got a 97!

Mother: (in a complaining voice) “Tell me, how could she get a grade of 97 when she won’t speak in English?”

Me: Your daughter is very talented. (Sigh. Did I mention that I was tired?)

Daughter: Our teacher made us work really hard. We went over everything over and over again. (YAY! She appreciated a teacher!).

Mother: That’s the way it should be (in a satisfied tone).

Daughter: What was the name of the play we learned? I can’t remember. I liked “The Split Cherry Tree“.

Me: “All My Sons”?

Daughter: Yes! That’s it! Isn’t it about a doctor who saves someone fighting against their country?

Me: Perhaps  you mean the story “The Enemy“?

Daughter: Oh yes, we learned that one too. What were the poems we learned? I liked “The Split Cherry Tree”.

Mother: They are calling our name. Bye!

Me: (to myself) Phew, now I won’t have to play “guess the poem” with her… There might have been cherry trees in them. Back to my own book!



10 thoughts on “When an EFL Teacher Sits in a Waiting Room…”

  1. Very cute story.
    Thanks for taking the trouble to relate it to us.
    Looking for an Israeli publisher for a book I have written called “Showing Up.” A true story where I come to my daughter, a frum painter, living in a settlement on a mountain in a trailer in Israel having her third child. I come with an agenda, to expiate a sin i have committed by not showing up at my father’s death bed. Time is during Saddam Hussein’s threat to drop poison gas on Israel. I reluctantly leave teaching college to help her with the two tots aged 2 and 4 and brave our family’s four cultural differences, Syrian, British, American, Sabre Jews and daily life on her austere but beautiful settlement. We prepare gas mask and rooms against poison gas. Mother (me) and daughter have major quarrel on a highway prior to birth, but birth is normal in hospital and grandmother by now in love with the two tots and mutual. America bombs Iraq and threat of gas passes. Grandmother leaves for her job in U.S. with regret. At Ben Gurion security suspects her laptop is a bomb. Exciting take off though grandmother exhausted but happy and wishes for return to Israel. I do not expiate my sin, but unlike my cold family, I do show up when needed.
    As Woody Allen said, Ninety percent of success is Showing Up.
    Gilda Haber, PhD gildahaber.com

  2. Wonderful! So nice to hear positive feedback when we work our GUTS out, even if it’s in the waiting room! Thanks for sharing!

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