22 June 2009

Texas Nationalism

Texans are very proud people. Mostly they are proud of the fact that, for a very short amount of time, Texas was its very own small country. Sometimes they forget the fact that they voluntarily gave up their independence to join the United States. Many a Texan will tell you that they are the only country that can fly their flag as high as the US flag. This is not true. While Texas is the only state that can claim such a distinction, it is not a country. Texans will also be quick to tell you that they are the only state that can secede from the Union. While it makes me happy that this claim does in fact acknowledge that Texas is only a part of a country that includes 49 other states and a handful of territories and commonwealths, this assertion is also untrue.

What Texans will not tell you is that although the United States was willing to go to war with Mexico to get California, the country was not equally willing to fight for Texas. They also get upset if you remind them that if Alaska were to be divided in half, Texas would become the third largest state in the country. I have not yet determined if this is because they don’t like being told that they are not the biggest, or if they are still quite certain that they are an independent nation and not merely another one of the 50 states. I frequently refer to a Texan’s confusion over sovereignty as Texas Nationalism.

I found yet another example of Texas Nationalism during the last week of school as I dutifully stood at my metal detector post and checked student backpacks for weapons. Textbooks were due, so the backpacks were a little more full than usual. I noticed that one student was carrying a blue book with a large Texas flag on the cover. This book piqued my curiosity. Since Texas History is taught in 7th grade, I could not imagine what high school subject this book was for. When this student handed me his backpack I checked said book for the title. Much to my chagrin the book was labeled Texas Algebra 2, as though Algebra is somehow different in Texas than it is in the rest of the world. Slightly irritated I more closely examined the textbooks in every backpack that I inspected. I discovered that the textbooks for each of the following subjects also have Texas in the title:

American History
World History
British Literature

The only title I saw that did not include Texas was for Chemistry

11 June 2009

Registered Mail

Today I had my first experience using Registered Mail. I had to send an item back to the manufacturer for repair. The warranty suggested that I send the item via Registered Mail. It seemed like a good idea to me, so I packaged up my item and headed off the post office (which I am proud to say that I located quickly, without getting lost). When I arrived at the post office I was quite surprised and delighted to discover that I was the only post office patron present, and was not required to wait in line. The postal worker pleasantly greeted me and asked if he could help me. I walked up to the counter, handed him my package, and told him I would like to ship the package as Registered Mail.

He dropped the package as though I had just told him it was radioactive. He coughed, straitened his glasses, leaned across the counter, and confirmed, “You said Registered Mail, Ma’am?” When I verified that he had in fact heard me correctly, pleasant postal worker was replaced with flustered postal worker. Perhaps it was his first experience with Registered mail too. He fumbled in his pocket for a minute and pulled out a key, unlocked a drawer under his desk, and handed me a pile of paperwork. Fortunately I am well practiced in filling out paperwork. While I wielded my ballpoint pen and attacked the forms, he proceeded to wrap my entire package in official brown post office tape. Then he stamped all six surfaces of my package several times with a bold red “REGISTERED” stamp and the date. Then he carefully made sure that the registered date was also stamped around all edges of my package. He mentioned that no one would be able to open my package without the recipient knowing.

The whole procedure took enough time for a long line of disgruntled postal patrons to gather. I could feel their impatience mounting with each stamp, and I felt kind of bad. Once my package was sufficiently secured the flustered postal worker looked nervously around the room. Obviously unsettled by the number of people he saw in the post office lobby, he again leaned across the desk and apologetically whispered, “Ma’am, I need you to declare the value of the item.” I declared the value of the item as requested, and he again glanced anxiously around the room before writing it down on the appropriate space on the form. I almost felt like a spy sending super secret documents involving the most sensitive issues of national security, except for the fact that the process wasn’t subtle at all.

10 June 2009

The End

On the last day of school I went to give my principal my offical letter of resignation. She refused to accept it because it was not on her form. She told me that unless I filled out her resignation form I would not get my last paycheck. I kind of doubt that since my paycheck comes from the district and not from my specific campus, but I decided it was not a battle I was willing to fight, and filled out her form. Then I requested a copy of the form. That made her kind of mad, but it seems to me that a resignation letter is something important that is worth keeping a copy of. So she handed me the copy request form which I also filled out.

Having finally filled out all of the correct paperwork I am currently unemployed. I have recieved a job offer from a school much closer to home and that's my plan for next year. I hope suburban kids are as amusing as inner city kids. The good news is that the last month of school was quite eventful. So I have lots of entertaining stories that I just haven't had time to write about yet. More of those will follow soon.