July 04, 2005

Little Jobs

Uncle Blather wanted a funny story and who am I to deny him?

When I moved to Connecticut, I was ill, and needed to take some time off. However, I soon grew restless and began to search for something to do. As it turns out, Milford, Connecticut is home to one of the state’s Audubon societies. They needed volunteers so I had something to do. I was there quite often and took an interest in, what they called the touch tank.

The touch tank was a huge tub of salt water which contained sea creatures from the local beach. Along with the minnow-like fish, there were crabs, clams, and even a small lobster. We would care for the tank and show off the various species to the guests.

It got to be a rehearsed act. I would pull a ‘spider crab’ out, and everyone would ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ and I’d point out the other, small creatures and that too was fascinating.

However, there was one point in my ‘show’ that was always the high point, if not for them, then for me. I would tell them about the fish and that they’d become rather tame because they knew that we were going to feed them. The fish would nibble at my fingers and it was all very cute. However, I’d say, I had no idea how trainable these fish were. With that I would bring my thumb and large finger together in a ring and hold them over the water, “Watch them jump through the hoop!” and people would lower themselves to stare at this marvel. I would wait a moment and exclaim, ‘no no no no’ and wave my hand, the fish were NOT going to be jumping from the tank. No way.

However, it gave me a good laugh each time.

After spending all of that time playing with fish, I was ready to deal with people again. I applied for and got a job with the Milford schools. Half my day was going to be spent at one of the high schools, helping out in the computer lab; however, my day began as Subfinder. This position sounds like I should have been wearing tights and a cape, with a big S emblazoned on my chest, but it wasn’t that glorious.

Subfinder was a computer that the district purchased to handle the daily need for substitute teachers. Not only did this thing log the absences that needed filling, but then it went on to call people and to place the in the openings. It was amazing. By the time I arrived, early in the morning, most of the work was done. However, there were always a few vacancies that I needed to fill, it seems that cajoling and begging were not abilities built into the software.

I also became the Subfinder instructor, teaching new teachers how to use the thing. What was remarkable was how efficient the whole thing was. People from other districts would call to get jobs in our town, even though the district paid less, people could work steadily if they ‘shopped’ on Subfinder.

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