The life of a substitute teacher is not a glorious one. Working a second and sometimes third job is a requirement if you want your life to include lavish luxuries such as food and gasoline. The great thing about being a sub is you still get the headaches that come with being a real teacher; without the lucrative pay and respect that comes with actually being one.
As a substitute, my “work” is constantly changing. I’ve subbed for every subject under the sun. I could be at a school for one day or three months. There’s been times where I worked at five different schools over the course of a week.
Every school building you set foot in is unique as the children inside. Different lay-outs, rules, demographics, vibes etc. Some are relatively new and have been built as recently as post-9/11 (but pre-Katrina). However, most were literally built before Major League Baseball was integrated (April 15th, 1947). Some walls have been up since before the infamous “Black Tuesday” Stock Market Crash of 1929.
Some schools actually value the lives of the student body (please do not assume this is the norm). They’ll ask you to do something like identify yourself upon entering the building; since it’s an election year we know this isn’t even that important. The office people (ladies 98% of the time) may talk to you in the small variety, nothing that has any sense of personality, meaning or value. That weather sure is something! Some schools will give you a badge to show the people in the building you're not an intruder.
If you’re in a really nice area they might even take up to two (2) whole minutes to go over things like safety protocols, school rules and expectations. You know? In case an actual intruder enters the building/someone brings in a firearm. Luckily, that only happened 3,300~times in U.S. schools during the 2016-17 school year, so you're Gucci brah.
Other schools are like desperate, horny, drunks. They seek attention. It may have been years since they’ve tricked someone into entering. They'll say yes to the first person to make eye contact any hour of the night. They’re just happy a living, breathing human-being showed up to fill the void. These schools will hand you rosters and like polling places in 40ish states, won’t verify if you are who say you are.
Now YOU get to be in charge of the children!
In one of the districts I work in (until they find this), as long as you have a college degree (any concentration; auctioneering, fashion & textiles, pastries...does NOT matter the slightest) and a pulse, you too can experience the joy of making sure twenty-six 8th graders don’t kill each other over who gets to be in the tik-tok.
As someone whose factory settings are that of unease and anxiousness; the uncertainty of things you normally take for granted make the job of being a substitute teacher incredibly difficult. I’m not saying it’s commercial fishing or mining coal, but at least they/them know where the bathrooms are when they punch in at the fish or coal store.
That brings me to one of the most forgotten plight facing substitute teacher in the public education system; the substitute's bathroom dilemma.
Using the bathroom is something many of us take for granted, but shouldn’t as approximately a third of the world’s population will poop outside today (and not because they're at Bonneroo)
The origins of the toilet are well-debated amongst fecal historians. One thing that cannot be debated is the origin of the term “plumber”. Everybody knows it dates back to the days of aqueducts and led pipes in Ancient Rome; plumbum is Latin for led. While the “flush” can be traced back to the 16th century (1500s for those who didn’t waste college for a history degree). Modern “flush” toilets weren’t commonplace in American homes until the 20th century (1900s). The Cincinnati Reds are older than the first American toilet paper-roll patent! The days of outhouses and water closets are really not too long ago.
Frankly, as someone who has spent more time of their life on the throne than Louis XIV, I feel more than qualified to dive ass-first into this horror show. My self-inflicted battle against lactose intolerance has given me plenty of experience in bathroom-panic. This is a topic that America doesn’t want to talk about, but it’s my job as a journalist to inform the public of the struggle that is going to the bathroom as a substitute teacher.
In the overwhelmingly vast majority of schools the teacher’s bathrooms are locked and require a key for access. That’s to be expected for basic privacy concerns. No issues ye(e)t.
Here’s where things get shitty (I had to say that at least once) for those trying to make a difference in lives of America’s youth. Some schools simply will not give subs the keys; no matter what. I have dealt with this more times than I can count. Textbook public edc rationale. Subs haven’t earned that right to use the bathroom! Gotta pay your dues! They’ll trust you to watch children and be responsible if they stay alive for anywhere from 43 to 92 minutes, but will force you to shamefully ask another teacher to let you use their key when you need to make a mud pie. Got it!
Luckily, the school in this story found me worthy of a key to my classroom/bathroom/any door in the building with a locking mechanism. This is not where the potty problems end. Suppose you’re part of the 10-15% of Americans that lives IBS or the 5-7% that have actually gotten it diagnosed. You are put in an position so awkward it could be sub-plot to an episode of Curb. If you’re like me, with not much of an anal on-deck circle; sometimes you can go from all-systems-go to CODE RED at a moment’s notice. Batter up!
Now you’re in a real bind (not literally, obvi).
You can do a few things because simply going to the bathroom when you need to go is not an option. Who will watch the children watch twitch streams?
The first thing you can do is pray. Pray your sphincter can reach “mom saving her baby” level strength and avoid becoming known as the sub who shit their pants. Should your body fail you, one of the goth kids will lend you the AR-15 that’s in their locker to kill yourself and avoid the shame that is life as the sub who shit themselves.
Perhaps the situation isn’t as dire, but you don’t think you'll make it until lunch or your free period (if you were lucky enough to avoid coverage duty). Depending on how the school works, you can really only do two things.
The first is like winning >$5 on a baseball-scratch-ticket. Rare, but not impossible, just v unlikely.....
You may be lucky enough to open the door and find another teacher/administrator in the halls. If you do, you can ask if they’ll watch your class for a few minutes while you “talk to your wife about an emergency” so the kids don’t know your anus is a ticking time bomb. Hopefully this person is cool enough to watch your class for 5-10 minutes. There are plenty of teachers who would rather your colon explode than take care of children when they don't have to.
Sometimes there’s nobody around to help. Which leaves an option as a sub that makes sudden death seem favorable; calling the office for help. You know? The same people you want to avoid inconveniencing by any means necessary. Yeaaaah, call them cause you gotta make a stinky! As a sub you likely don’t have any relationships inside the building. Your hands are tied, you have don't really have other choice; call the office or change the day's lesson to geysers to better paint a picture of what you're going through.
This is what you want to avoid at all costs. I have made the call twice in the last month. (An optimist would say I'm batting .500; a pessimist would say a 50% completion rate isn't gonna cut it in this league)
So you ask the office if they can send someone to watch your class; allowing you the privilege of going to bathroom. I tried this the other day and nobody showed. This only amplifies the embarrassment. Now you really have to decide between doubling down and calling them back to say you really have to use the bathroom OR keep rolling the dice and hope you don't crap out.
Allow me tell you a first hand account of how ridiculous using the bathroom as a substitute teacher is.
During my first week at a long-term job I was on the third floor and saw a bathroom with this sign placed upon it.
“Wow, I did not anticipate this school to be so progressive. Good for them!” said the voice in my head; as he too is worried about getting cancelled.
What the voice in my head doesn’t say out loud in fear of cancellation is we as a nation let a "bathroom problem" that affects less than 2% of the population dictate the national media for months! Let them divide you to take awake focus from major issues 101. Worst of all, it butterfly-effected into this and embarrassed me worse than someone hassling about a hit and run.
I sympathize and empathize with the trans community, to say they deal with a lot would be an insult to everybody. I don’t need to dive into their struggles, as if I have a clue, but I can promise them no fear of rejection from your loved ones can compares to the soul-crushing awkwardness of what entailed for Mr. Dozo.
I wish it was simple as (Kid Cudi) this:
And while the wokest of "no beers below 12.4 APV" bars may have tried to one up each other with "open to all" bathroom signs, they simply are a bad idea for bathrooms designed for use of multiple people.
I could not be anymore in favor of gender neutral bathrooms for single stall use. I’ve used an open woman’s room at gas stations countless times in my 28 years and as recently as yesterday (100% truth). It was an employee of Season's Corner Market that suggested it! Normally Season's Corner Market has one uni-sex bathroom, but this one was fancy. I simply think the fact that I have a penis (legally) does not mean I should risk pooping my pants.
There’s no reason for one stall bathrooms to care what you identify as. If it’s only one person, who cares....just wash ya hands and don’t leave the seat wet.
Once more than one person is in the mix, that’s when things can get uncomfortable rather quickly. While I do think a simple "go where you feel comfortable" policy would be ideal; it's not practical with scumbags out there who use it as open season for being a perv.
So I see the "co-Ed" bathroom sign and because I know what that sign means.... I used that restroom. When nature calls, you answer. I don't think this makes me Billy the Kid.
The bathroom I'm referring to has two full-stalls and one sink. Classic two-person bathroom set-up. Once I opened the door I ran to the nearest stall as I began to drop heat. I had to go so badly that the fact this bathroom was unisex with multiple stalls didn't make me think anything out of the ordinary. I've been to bars with two stalls, a urinal and no dividers. So a set-up like this in a school built during the OG Prohibition didn't set off any alarms. Then as I heard the door open, I clearly saw women’s shoes enter the room through that 1/4 inch seem all public stalls have that ever-so-slightly reveals you to the world.
No more than 30 seconds later, another woman enters the room. I immediately start to wonder wtf is going on? Naturally, I fear the worst and ponder why the fuck does this school have a "co-Ed" teachers' bathrooms? How is this a good idea? They SUCK! How am I supposed to relax when I'm pooping if there's a mom that isn't mine 18 inches away? No amount of gender equality is going to eliminate hundreds of years of awkwardness associated with publicly defecating. It's incredibly awkward. Trying to not make loud noises either from the exit or the splash is an Olympic caliber feat of athleticism. Now throw a member of the opposite sex in the mix?? Pooping in public is already one of the most shameful experiences a human can have. (Personally will go anywhere, I'm just trying to be relatable) We as a society have found a way to make people feel horrible for doing something literally all people do. Sorry I don’t have a remote for my ass hole. As I’m trying to shit on mute in this “co-Ed” restroom, I now feel the pressure of trying to wrap up so others aren’t waiting, while also trying to take my time and leave after them. Talk about being caught between a shit and a fart.
I wait until the coast is clear and return to class. Acting like I didn’t just totally tear up the “co-Ed” restroom.
About 20 minutes later I get a call; if you’re a classic DOL reader you may remember how I feel about the phone in class.
It’s a women’s voice on the other end. She introduces herself and we chat for about 30 seconds before I felt the closest I ever have to an actual puddle. It is here when I learned this bathroom was anything, but “co-Ed". Two women complained that a man was in their bathroom.
See this school has two “co-Ed” bathrooms. I just was stupid enough to not realize there was the men's and women's "co-ed" bathrooms. Classic mistake.
Exactly. Makes no fucking sense. Apparently, this change was made solely to appease the transgender community, despite this school having zero transgender students. You read that correctly. At least that's what this lady told me on the phone. This school turned the teacher’s bathrooms into the men’s and women’s rooms into the "co-Ed"; male only and "co-Ed" female only restrooms because someday there may be a student when a student who can't use the teacher's restroom anyways, feels excluded.
Don't get me wrong, in today's day in age you need to prepared. Proper bathrooms will inevitably affect all school districts in the country, it'd be like not installing handicap ramps/stalls because no current students need them. But like all education problems it was solved without basic logic. This school really thought the best solution was to have fake "Co-ed" bathrooms? I must not have all the facts straight. Part of me thinks I can't be the only one who made this mistake, but considering the door looked like this the next day; I think it's safe to say I was.
Shit like this is why I need Barstool to save me. #hiredozo