Recently, I worked a temporary job at a local company. My co-worker-for-the-week asked me about the other work I did. I started to tell her about substitute teaching.
She asked what it was like, and I was honest with her. "It can be rough. But I am a writer, so I can turn a bad day into material." I told her about the joke that the sixth graders played on me that I turned into an essay called Substitute Initiation.
"Wait a minute," she said, "That was you?"
I guess even though the episode happened over a year ago, the story lives on, even without my publication. Her son was in the same grade, same school-- and apparently, the "rookie sub" story had made the rounds. All the kids were talking about the whole class getting the new sub good. They also knew that no one person took full responsibility for the incident (nor did anybody rat out the original culprits), causing the whole class to spend a day in in-school suspension.
I knew last school year that the kids had not forgotten. I ran into a few of them in the different middle schools. A glimmer of recognition would pass their faces when I introduced myself.
"Hey didn't you sub last year at---"
"Aren't you the sub that--"
I would try to avoid answering the question directly. "I certainly wouldn't stand for such nonsense. Now, open your book and start your lesson."
But they knew it was me. Now, I know their parents heard about me as well. I could be embarrassed, but that is inconsistent with my goals as a writer, especially a writer of personal essays. Writers have to expose themselves to get to their own true voice. This is the only way to honestly share their message.
I had my reasons to become a sub. I didn't know what I was getting into, and that was half of the fun of it. In order to write about life, I have to live it. And I'm trying to not worry if my face turns red every once in a while-- I have to remember; it just might make a great story someday.