Luckily, I was in a line that was being serviced by the store manager; this stroke of luck would eliminate another clerk's need to seek higher authority to approve the discount. I waited for several minutes until it was my turn. I explained my saga to the manager, including the fact that there were two other damaged frames back there on the shelf - surely he would want to remove them in an effort to present only the best for his customers.
He spoke politely, "I have to ask full price for this." I assumed he was kidding - or delirious - surely he didn't want $40.00 for a chipped picture frame in a dysfunctional box. He saw my surprise and continued, "We aren't allowed to offer discounts on damaged merchandise. It's a sign of the times."
After explaining, as nicely as possible, that I couldn't believe his company would want to represent themselves that way, I left with nothing to show for my visit except a wasted thirty minutes.
Later, I thought about the budget cuts that are occurring in school districts across the country. The proposal in my own state currently calls for the elimination of thousands of teaching positions while raising class size and shortening the school year. This is in addition to a salary cut that hit our pay checks last week...which, by the way, I felt okay about at the time. I didn't mind giving up .5% of my salary so that hundreds of teacher jobs could be saved; however, it was just after I came to terms with that news and justified it in my mind that I heard about the thousands of teachers and third grade teacher assistants that we are likely to lose in our state if this budget proposal goes through.
But unlike that picture frame, I can't put my students back on the shelf. We, as educators, have to remain committed to do the best we can with the resources we have available to us, even if the only resources we have are a passion for children and subject matter expertise. I can do it if I run out of paper and I can do it with more students in my classroom, especially if those of us left to do the work continue on with a purposeful effort to make a difference in the lives of children.
Meanwhile we will continue to be a voice for those children as we write our legislators and make our positions known (I'm happy to report that each representative that I have written has written me back. I do feel that they are listening.) In addition, in my state educators are wearing red on Wednesdays to symbolize that "education is bleeding."
But bleeding or not, we'll teach those children - however many sit in our classrooms - because the alternative is not an option.
It reminds me of an old song from the sixties - "Don't Give Up" by Petula Clark: