Posted tagged ‘Andy Griffith’

Substitute Teacher Day Off

September 18, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     September 18, 2018


I did not get a too-early call this morning from Timberview Middle School. No phone ringing at 5:30 with urgency! I get did four phone calls from another school, but I ignored them. It’s gotten to the point where I rarely substitute at any other school besides Timberview. I’m like Andy Griffith in the midst of middle school Mayberry. Everybody knows me there! I coach three sports there, with this being my 18th year of coaching boy’s basketball.

So today is a day off! Yesterday I corralled 7th Grade language arts students the whole day, keeping them focused on verbs, mis-spellings, and the green grass of literature. I’ll giddy up the same herd two days from now. 

Today, however, I’m relaxing…kinda’! When I leave Starbucks this morning I’m going up to the school to take care of a couple of details and surprise a coaching teammate with a cup of Americano with a little bit of cream. She deserves it for having to teach 8th Grade math all day.

Since retiring from being a church pastor close to three years ago (Doesn’t seem possible!) my understanding of “a day off” has been altered. It used to be that Monday was the designated day off after the hyper-speed pace of Sunday. Now it’s whatever day I’m not substitute teaching. 

Could be Monday, could be Thursday, but it’s almost never Friday! 

And what do I do on whatever day it is that I’m off? I think about what’s going on at the school, wondering which students will make unwise decisions and which teachers will be ready to pull their hair out. I’ll wonder what new color of hair will appear in a classroom that day and what 8th Grade girls will look like their jeans were vacuum sealed around them. I’ve noticed- and maybe you have also- that my middle school experiences are filtering more and more into my writing. In the first month of the school year I wrote 7 blog posts related to middle school. Today I’ll write 1,000 to 2,000 words in the third fiction book I’m writing and the story will have been influenced by my recent middle school experiences. One of the two main characters is a 7th Grade boy! That’s what I do on my day off! I write about middle schoolers.

I’ll also eat a more substantial lunch today, maybe a luncheon date with Carol. I won’t need to “wolfe down” a Tupperware bowl containing cottage cheese and cucumber, or a PB&J sandwich while gulping a bottle of water. Today I won’t even have to use a plastic fork!

I’ll be able to talk in a normal voice, use the bathroom when I want to, wear a pair of shorts and a tee shirt, and sit in the swing on our back deck and read Vince Flynn. I’ll be able to enjoy a third cup of coffee on my writing stool- the last stool on the right looking out at Pike’s Peak! I can stop at the supermarket and check out the “day old food” discounted rack and play Words with Friends. I may even run by Penney’s and see if they have underwear on sale!

And in the midst of all those opportunities and “down time” I’ll be thinking about Timberview, like a kid wondering what might happen in the next episode of my favorite action TV series. 

Crazy, I know, but it brings a smile to my face! And I’ll ask myself “Was I that dorky when I was in middle school?” 


Grace and Mayberry

February 5, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                      February 5, 2013


My barber’s name is Phil Hanson. I began going to him a few years ago because a distinguished elderly man in our church, Charles Slusser, always had such a nicely-groomed head of white hair. One day I finally asked Charles where he got his hair cut and he pointed me in Phil’s direction. Phil is now 78 years old, but so far he hasn’t cut anything on my head but hair. The reason I have continued to go back to him again and again is because he reminds me of “Floyd” of Mayberry, hometown setting for “The Andy Griffith Show”.  I want my barber to be more like Floyd and less about style.

Phil has a loyal customer base of mostly older gentlemen who come more for the conversation and less about a cut. Floyd was like that, too. He may have been the only barber in Mayberry, but his shop was a place of conversation.

But, like most of the characters on Andy Griffith, Floyd required some grace. He, Goober, Gomer, Howard, Otis, and especially Barney Fife, all had their stumbles and bumbles. Their talent for doing boneheaded things was the basis for most of the 249 episodes of the series. Otis tried and failed to get sober numerous times. Barney carelessly first his pistol more than once. Even Aunt Bee needed grace in a few episodes.

For some reason Mayberry didn’t hold grudges. Forgiveness found a home there. (My favorite is the episode entitled “Citizen’s Arrest! Citizen’s Arrest!”) In a majority of the episodes Andy at some time would shake his head in disbelief and say, “Bar…ney!” By the time the thirty minute show was over, however, all had been forgiven.

Perhaps our world needs a little more Mayberry, and less of “The Real World.” Grace seems to be harder to come by these days as people seek their corner in the ring before they come out swinging.

Jesus was very gracious when it came to his disciples. Kind of like Andy Griffith dealing with his cast of Mayberry characters, Jesus dealt with men who wanted to know who would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven, wondered why they couldn’t cast out demons, doubted the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, and weren’t sure what was going on a lot of the time.

I sometimes have to step back and realize that the picture I have of Jesus is one where he is battling with the Pharisees, or getting perturbed with the teachers of the Law. My picture needs to be updated with the Jesus of grace. He had the first group of trail-and-error followers. There was not a manual for them to follow, so they needed to follow Jesus closely…and sometimes they messed it up.

I think the church needs to be more like Mayberry, a place of grace. There’s a little bit of Floyd, Otis, Barney, and Aunt Bee in each one of us. A bit of waywardness, cluelessness, and falling short in various ways. The church is a cast of characters trying to get it together, but knowing there may be an episode next week that will cause some head-shaking.