One of my favorite things about taking the tube is having the time to read my book. Suddenly, commuting to a job doesn’t seem so bad. The minutes tick away and I dig deaper into my story. Of course, the occasional drunkard may sit across from me and try to engage in conversation, and I just keep reading. Sometimes my eyes roam across the page but my ears are listening to the people around me and that can be entertaining too. But if my entire day is filled with searching for a job and doing things for others rather than myself, those precious minutes sitting on the underground with a good book can take my mind to any dimension and I feel I’ve had time for myself and a freedom from the normalcy of a jobless routine. Satisfaction indeed.
Today I went to drop off a job application to a school in NE London. The mention of the tube stop, Seven Sisters, made Ali’s cousin and uncle cringe, the East-side is known to be a bit rougher all around. I don’t really have the choice to be so picky at the moment, I need to explore all my options, even if that means wandering into an urban area to teach kiddies from all sorts of backgrounds. Wasn’t that what I was going to do in NYC anyway?
I made my way easily through the underground maze. When I got out at the last change over, I found myself surrounded by men and women with black, coned, top hats and bright yellow vests with reflectors on them. I was looking for the Victoria Line and decided to ask one with his shiny silver badge protruding from the front of his hat. Policeman. He seemed nice enough but annoyed that I just wanted directions. It was as if I was interrupting his job. Perhaps he was hoping for a mugging victim to rescue. Not to self: look for an employee of the underground next time. There were police everywhere and announcements on the over-head speakers about watching your bags, not leaving anything unattended and that this was a high crime area so be aware of your space and your belongings. Right. So that’s why there were so many police around. I wondered if it was like this all the time or if something had recently happened.
I made it to my stop and there were a fair number of police guarding the underground there as well. When I emerged from the “pit of despair” I saw what everyone was cringing about. It was certianly a rough area of a large city. Wow, big surprise, we know they exist but usually only see them on tv. There weren’t men with knives or guns bulging in their pockets. I didn’t get offered any drugs on any leg of my trip. It was just a little more run down, and the residents looked to be struggling through life a bit. But aren’t we all in some way? I didn’t feel afraid. I was just aware fo my surroundings. I felt happy to have the opportunity to apply to a school. Not many have invited me and my American qualifications so far.
I followed the directions that the school’s secretary had given me and ran smack into the school. It was situated less that five minutes from the underground station, with a small gated playground. I had to press a button and wave at a camera so they would let me in. Once in, there was another button to push under a big sign that said BOYS. This must be where the boys line up when their day begins. I walked into the shcool and followed the signs for the office while the kids seemed to be changing into their PE uniforms right in front of me, next to the office.
Two very cute, sweet Afro-Carribean girls, both aged 8, one much smaller than the other, gave me a tour of the school. We knocked on all of the doors, I met almost all of the teachers and their assistants, and they went back to their daily routine. Some students were taking their SAT’s and couldn’t be disturbed. Ick, testing. Everyone was very friendly and I enjoyed the girls’ tour. It was a colorful school, very diverse, seemed fully staffed with average classroom sizes and a helper in each room. I felt comfortable in the school and very welcome. I met the Head teacher on my way out and it was a pleasant experience.
So, now I wait. The applications will be shortlisted and I hear back in a couple days if I get an interview. Regardless of what happenes, it was a good experience. I got to see more of London, although definitely the side that visitors just wouldn’t wander to. Except me, but I suppose I can’t be considered a visitor any more.