Friday, July 18, 2008

Puritans and Jesus Juice

I found the article which follows on Sun-sentinel.com.

You can scroll to the bottom of the blog and read it, but basically, it works like this. This teacher came to school drunk and now she is probably going to get fired. The question is, does she deserve to be fired?

Yes, this particular teacher because she clearly has a problem . . . (read the article).

But in general, no, teachers who come to school drunk ought not be fired.

Teachers who come to work drunk should be reprimanded perhaps, and sent home definitely, but not fired.

In fact, workers in general who go to work drunk should not be fired, unless of course they are airline pilots and other people who work in sensitive areas--and even in these cases, maybe they should be reprimanded and sent home rather than fired.

But in America, where we are really just modern Puritans, teachers who appear drunk in front of their students in a classroom will be fired.

It is not because the teacher is "drunk" or otherwise incapacitated that she will and must be fired in America, but because alcohol has long been considered a vice and a sin and therefore singled out for an especial level of vilification by we modern Puritans.

Don't believe me?

Instead of arguing this point, let me just drop a few scenarios on you.

A teacher comes to school groggy, tipsy, and otherwise incapacitated due to the stength of the medication she has been taking for her cold--the principal says, "Go home. I came down to get you because some of your kids came and told me that you don't look so good. You're stumbling and mumbling. Go home. Get better. See you tomorrow, or whenever you can stand up straight." Sounds reasonable, no?

This actually hapened to me. I did not go home because that is the way I am--I don't let colds or principals push me around.

A teacher comes to school groggy, tipsy, and otherwise incapacitated due to the stength of the pain killers she has been taking after her recent dental/oral surgery--the principal says, "Go home. I came down to get you because some of your kids came and told me that you don't look so good. You're stumbling and mumbling. Go home. Get better. See you tomorrow, or whenever you can stand up straight." Sounds reasonable, no?

This one happened to me, too--the medicine was oxycontin, and I did not go home because I could not even drive--only God knows how I was able to drive to school under such strong medicine--I went into a dark room and stretched out on a couch for the rest of the day--but I was not fired.

A teacher comes to school groggy, tipsy, and otherwise incapacitated due to the stength of the medication she received after giving birth a week earlier--the principal says, "Go home. I came down to get you because some of your kids came and told me that you don't look so good. You're stumbling and mumbling. Go home. Get better. See you tomorrow, or whenever you can stand up straight." Sounds reasonable, no?

This one did not happen to me--duh--I'm a male. But something similar happened to my eighth grade English teacher. She was bleeding and what not. It was gross. They sent her back home for another week, or maybe it was two.

A teacher comes to school groggy, sleepy, and otherwise incapacitated due to the 36 straight hours she has spent wide awake grading her midterms and those of another teacher has suddenly taken ill--the principal says, "Go home. I came down to get you because some of your kids came and told me that you don't look so good. You're stumbling and mumbling. Go home. Get better. See you tomorrow, or whenever you get some sleep." Sounds reasonable, no?

Been there. Done that--and no, I did not go home. I took over three classes for a faculty member who due to an emergency suddenly and unexpectedly moved away. My grading load was incrediable. I am sure I stayed awake more than 36 hours straight that first weekend to get caught up. I was basically stumbling and mumbling through my classes that day. Everyone who saw me, patted me on the back and told me what a great and honorable thing I was doing.

A teacher comes to school groggy, tipsy, and otherwise incapacitated due to the excessive alcohol she drank the night before at a friend's celebration--the principal says, "Go home. I came down to get you because some of your kids came and told me that you don't look so good. You're stumbling and mumbling. Drunk, huh? I know how that is. Well, get out of here. See you tomorrow, or whenever you get that liquor out of your system." Sounds reasonable, no?

Well, this one has never happened to me because I do not drink. Never have. Never will--and not because of some religious objection, I'm no Puritan--but because I simply do not like the taste of alcohol. At weddings, I sip a little champagne in honor of the bride and groom. At strip clubs, where I used to go before I got married and was forbidden by my wife to dare visit ever agaian, I would sip a little beer from the mandatory cover charge drink they forced me to purchase. In college, I think I drank a whole beer and a cup or two of wine to prove to my friends that I could drink, but simply chose not to. I do not drink. I have one vice, gambling. And that is enough.

But I have seen drunk teachers harrassed and persecuted in the public schools; in fact, one of my favorite teachers in seventh grade was fired because a student went through her desk one day when we had a sub and found a bottle of wine. She was fired, and let me tell you this, she was hands down one of the best teachers I have ever had. Her replacement was someone we came to love after a while, but she was only an okay teacher.

In college, unlike in high school, instructors (with tenure) who come to work drunk don't necessarily get fired, but they are looked at with distaste and scorn as they are told to go home.

And this is weird because we would admire the courage of an employee who fought an illness or fought through lack of sleep to come to work . . . think about it. What a hero that person is! What a work ethic! This has happened to me several times.

But here comes this other employee, incapacitated to the same degree as all the other hypothetical employees mentioned in this blog, but due to that evil fire water from hell, alcohol, and not pain medicine . . . pain medicine which is much, much stronger than alcohol can ever be . . . and we fire him/her.

. . . so the firing has nothing to do with the level of incapacitation of the teacher, who, we know, would be far more incapacitated by pain medicine than by alcohol . . .

. . . the firing, then, must have to do with how we feel about the thing which has caused the incapacitation . . . alcohol . . . spirits . . . liquor . . . fire water . . . Jesus juice (shut up, Michael Jackson!) . . .

Finally, we have to deal with the facts. People drink. It is a fact of American life. When they drink to the point of drunkenness, they should not be at work, especially around children or heavy machinery or dangerous chemicals or motor vehicles or airplanes or the White House's Red phone--they should be sent home.

But they should not be fired--not by a sane and rational culture like ours, no more so than we would fire someone who came to work tipsy on painkillers or from lack of sleep.

But, of course, we modern Puritans are not the most rational people in the world.

Not when it comes to Jesus juice.

Preston


_________________________________________________________

Pompano Teacher Accused of Going to Work Drunk Could Lose Job
by Kathy Bushouse




A Pompano Beach High School teacher accused of showing up to work while drunk could lose her job on Tuesday, when the Broward County School Board is scheduled to vote on whether to fire her.

Valjean Marguriet, a 27-year veteran of the school district, has been on leave from her job since January 14, when she came to class smelling of alcohol, according to the district's complaint.

Last year, a federal judge sentenced Marguriet to three years' probation after she pleaded guilty to charges she assaulted a flight attendant on an AirTran Airways flight from Atlanta to Newport News, Va. The judge also ordered Marguriet to undergo alcohol and mental health counseling.

The school district's complaint against Marguriet said students saw Marguriet drunk at work. She was "repeatedly telling her students she loved them," and "unable to answer simple questions. Her speech was slurred."

Laboratory tests confirmed Marguriet was under the influence of alcohol, according to the complaint.

The complaint said Marguriet came to school while intoxicated on multiple other occasions. It cites a complaint from teachers and students who recalled Marguriet appearing at Silver Trail Middle School "with slurred speech and repeating the same things over and over" and attending a school basketball game while drunk.

Kathy Bushouse (Sun-sentinel.com)

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Editorial Reviews of All or Nothing

New York Times--". . . a cartographer of autodegradation . . . Like Dostoyevsky, Allen colorfully evokes the gambling milieu — the chained (mis)fortunes of the players, their vanities and grotesqueries, their quasi-philosophical ruminations on chance. Like Burroughs, he is a dispassionate chronicler of the addict’s daily ritual, neither glorifying nor vilifying the matter at hand."

Florida Book Review--". . . Allen examines the flaming abyss compulsive gambling burns in its victims’ guts, self-esteem and bank accounts, the desperate, myopic immediacy it incites, the self-destructive need it feeds on, the families and relationships it destroys. For with gamblers, it really is all or nothing. Usually nothing. Take it from a reviewer who’s been there. Allen is right on the money here."

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Library Journal--"Told without preaching or moralizing, the facts of P's life express volumes on the destructive power of gambling. This is strongly recommended and deserves a wide audience; an excellent choice for book discussion groups."—Lisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH

LEXIS-NEXIS--"By day, P drives a school bus in Miami. But his vocation? He's a gambler who craves every opportunity to steal a few hours to play the numbers, the lottery, at the Indian casinos. Allen has a narrative voice as compelling as feeding the slots is to P." Betsy Willeford is a Miami-based freelance book reviewer. November 4, 2007

Publisher’s Weekly--"Allen’s dark and insightful novel depicts narrator P’s sobering descent into his gambling addiction . . . The well-written novel takes the reader on a chaotic ride as P chases, finds and loses fast, easy money. Allen (Churchboys and Other Sinners) reveals how addiction annihilates its victims and shows that winning isn’t always so different from losing."

Kirkus Review--"We gamble to gamble. We play to play. We don't play to win." Right there, P, desperado narrator of this crash-'n'-burn novella, sums up the madness. A black man in Miami, P has graduated from youthful nonchalance (a '79 Buick Electra 225) to married-with-a-kid pseudo-stability, driving a school bus in the shadow of the Biltmore. He lives large enough to afford two wide-screen TVs, but the wife wants more. Or so he rationalizes, as he hits the open-all-night Indian casinos, "controlling" his jones with a daily ATM maximum of $1,000. Low enough to rob the family piggy bank for slot-machine fodder, he sinks yet further, praying that his allergic 11-year-old eat forbidden strawberries—which will send him into a coma, from which he'll emerge with the winning formula for Cash 3 (the kid's supposedly psychic when he's sick). All street smarts and inside skinny, the book gives readers a contact high that zooms to full rush when P scores $160,000 on one lucky machine ("God is the God of Ping-ping," he exults, as the coins flood out). The loot's enough to make the small-timer turn pro, as he heads, flush, to Vegas to cash in. But in Sin City, karmic payback awaits. Swanky hookers, underworld "professors" deeply schooled in sure-fire systems to beat the house, manic trips to the CashMyCheck store for funds to fuel the ferocious need—Allen's brilliant at conveying the hothouse atmosphere of hell-bent gaming. Fun time in the Inferno.

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Bio


Preston L. Allen is the recipient of a State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature and the Sonja H. Stone Prize in Fiction for his short story collection Churchboys and Other Sinners (Carolina Wren Press 2003). His works have appeared in numerous publications including The Seattle Review, The Crab Orchard Review, Asili, Drum Voices, and Gulfstream Magazine; and he has been anthologized in Here We Are: An Anthology of South Florida Writers, Brown Sugar: A Collection of Erotic Black Fiction, Miami Noir, and the forthcoming Las Vegas Noir. His fourth novel, All Or Nothing, chronicles the life of a small-time gambler who finally hits it big. Preston Allen teaches English and Creative Writing in Miami, Florida.