Once an English teacher, always an English teacher…

I had carefully planned and shopped and done everything in my power to avoid shopping on Christmas Eve. When our television broke on Christmas Eve eve, I was afraid, I was very afraid. At this time, my children were young, and shopping on Christmas Eve meant traipsing through desperate crowds, trying to shop while keeping three small Dagens at my side. But my husband said those fatal words anyway, “Honey, could you please go buy a replacement TV for us tomorrow?”

“I will go,” I declared with some irritation and unusual assertiveness, “but if I don’t walk into that store and hear someone say ‘Hello, Mrs. Dagen, how can I help you today?’ I am walking out the door without buying a thing.”

He found an advertisement for the TV he wanted, handed me the description, and I set off to Circuit City, three children in tow.

The parking lot was packed, the store was a madhouse, and I walked in, fairly certain I would turn around and walk back out. But then I heard:

“Hello, Mrs. Dagen, what can I help you with today?”

I looked up to see Drew, a former student, decked out in a red Circuit City shirt, addressing me as a professional. I replied the only way I could:

“I’m buying a TV today.”

And I did. What’s more, the store delivered it mere hours later on Christmas Eve. My husband must be pulling some strings up in God’s heavens…

But the real moral of the story is this: my former students (and their parents) call me “Mrs. Dagen,” because they will always think of me as a teacher, despite my career move more than a year ago. Just this week, my friend Kathy, mother of two of my former students, posted this cartoon on my Facebook wall:

See? They still think of me as the English teacher. And perhaps they should. Yesterday, I was in a meeting with the company that has been redesigning our website, and as the designer tutored us, she breezed through a typical scenario. After one response to a client booking a room flashed for a mere second or two on the screen, I had to know.

“Um,” I said, ever intelligent. “Are those replies editable?”

She went through a lengthy explanation to say yes.

“Good,” I responded. “Because ‘receive’ was spelled incorrectly.”

As they say, “You can take the English teacher out of the classroom but you can’t take …” I have no idea, actually. Perhaps I should say, “Once an English teacher always an English teacher.”

I spend my working days now with a team of fellows from the university producing marketing campaigns for inventions. I am called the Editor, the Technical Editor, and, most recently, the Marketing and Communications Specialist. However, “persnickety” covers it all. I not only find errors, but I also add comments (and provide links to sources, when I feel I need backup) to explain why something is wrong.

(I hope I didn’t make any errors in this writing. If so, feel free to join me as a persnickety grammar police officer in the comment field, righting wrongs and giving reasons.) 🙂


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