I came across an article, yesterday, about NYC's "Rubberroom." For those of you that aren't teachers, this may mean zilch to you, but it is a very real place if you have ever taught for the NYC/DOE.
I actually spent two weeks in the "Rubberroom" during the last two weeks of November in 2004. So, Samuel Freedman's article, "Where Teachers Sit, Awaiting Their Fates," dated October 10, 2007 in the NY Times really struck a chord. Mostly, it struck a chord because the "Rubberroom" is a place I got to know intimately, even though I was there for a little over two weeks.
For those of you that don't know, the "Rubberroom" is a place where they send teachers that have supposedly commited a crime. For example, if you are a teacher and you get a DUI or arrested for anything (unpaid partking tickets) you end up in the "Rubberroom" because the NYC/DOE keeps tabs on you here until your criminal case is sorted out. I guess, this is a good precauation, but the place is a depressing black hole, where nothing seeps out.
I met some of the most brilliant teachers there and some of the most vile, whiny, lame teachers I have ever come across in my life. The reason is simple: everyone there is there under a presumption of guilt. But it's not that easy, because as we all know (teachers), all a student has to do is allege something and it's a wrap. Even if that student has a history of lieing, the NYC/DOE has to move on their allegation and re-assigns you to the "Rubberroom."
When I was there, I experience many of the things that Freedman writes about in his article, like the territoriality of the inhabitants. I once got into a shouting match with some crazy dude because he said that I took his chair. While we shouted, everyone went about their business, as if the natural mode of the place was loud and inconsequential. I hated every minute spent there, but I did come out of it with a cycle of poems called "Rubberroom."
I will include a poem here from that cycle; I've wanted to publish it for ever but have failed to find a home or publisher for it. No worries, it is the third chapter of my Ms, "Spicaresque" so if that ever get's published, we in bidness. The cycle's written in Acts and Scenes. What follows is the prologue for Act Three.
ACT THREE: PROLOGUE
I thought I went to grad school
to never end up at the Fordham Police Station
in an interrogation room for four hours
while a detective runs me for priors.
Next is hunting acronyms
on the seventh floor of the R.O.C.
that will reassign me to the maw
of the South Bronx.
My U.F.T. rep. says
they call it the Rubberroom
because you get to bounce
off the wallslike a regular 'tard.
A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.