When I lived in Philly, I was one of the lucky few to have an apartment located walking distance from my job. Every day at 4:30 in the afternoon I clocked out, ran down the fire escape stairs while fumbling with my earbuds, and made the 12 minute walk home. Some days I stopped in the library on my way to use their internet (I didn’t have internet at my apartment) or check out books or dvds, some days I sidetracked to the coffee shop to sit for a while, some days I stopped at the farmer’s market to buy something, some days I gave the finger to some driver who wouldn’t stop for me. (Cars: they usually don’t stop for you in the States. Huh. Filing this under things that are done better in Macedonia.)
Here I’m about an eight-minute walk from school. I always time these things pretty exactly because showing up to work with time to spare isn’t my strongest suit – like one of the doctors I used to work with said, I never really showed up late, but I was always clocking in on the dot, running down the hall with my ID badge ready and not greeting anyone till I had clocked in. On Friday I finished work around 5:30 pm, grabbed my jacket from the teacher’s lounge, and booked it out of the school, getting caught up at the gate in a crowd of third- and fourth-graders. We said goodbye, then I walked down the hill that leads to the hill I walk up to get to the street my street branches off of (great descriptions, I know), getting caught up here behind a herd (flock?) of sheep, along with a bunch of my fourth-graders. One of them, Shpend, was predictably adorable and said, “Wow! There are a lot of sheep!” before escaping the sheep to his home. As I walked behind the sheep with five or six of my students, it occurred to me that sheep are pretty dumb animals – at every side street or open gate some sheep would divert to wander around, eating grass and looking confused, until the sheepdog found them or it dawned on them that they were all alone. Some went down a path towards a home to graze, and my student Femi went down to chase them up. They came up in clumps – he got a few up to the street, then let them be and came back to walk home, shouting every time he thought a sheep was on its way. Every time he was right the girls would start squealing, but as the main group of sheep got farther away the lost sheep were more and more freaked out when they made it back to the street, until the last one tried running (right at us – so imagine a group of fourth-graders and their teacher all trying not to freak out in the face of stampeding sheep…that is, one stampeding sheep) up the hill, slipped when he got to the street, and skidded on his side at us until regaining his footing.
Then we got yelled at by a farmer for being immature, which embarrassed me because, let’s face it, I was acting just like my nine-year-old students. We walked the rest of the way down our street very demurely and when I turned onto my street we all waved goodbye. Yeah, the fourth grade is the best.