Henry Thomas – Texas Easy Street
Explore your city! Last evening, my friend Carl and I drove down to Compton to try this BBQ shack that we’d both heard about in a local paper.
While I would not normally drive 30 minutes for BBQ, I must say that this BBQ was simply sublime. Bludso’s is, in fact, perhaps the best barbecue I’ve tasted here in LA (even in the face of stiff competition from such notables as Tasty-Q, and Phillip’s).
Simply oozing with tenderness and Texas hot sauce, the ribs we enjoyed were exactly what one needs at the end of a long week!
In the dining area (imagine a 15’ x 5’ hallway with barstools), Carl (who is also a teacher, albeit at a different LA middle school) and I were talking about our respective kids and how they were doing. After about 5 minutes of conversation an African American woman, perhaps in her mid to late 30s, who had been sitting nearby leaned over and asked us if we worked for Compton Unified. No, we replied, we both worked for LA Unified, their larger, northern neighbor.
Then, perhaps wondering what in the world would bring to white boys down to the heart of Compton/LA, she abrasively asked us, “So, do you teach for America”?
It’s likely that only my TFA readers will completely understand and relate to the sarcasm inherent in that question. It turns out that this lady has been an elementary school teacher in Compton for the last 12 years and has likely seen her fair share of starry-eyed, slightly arrogant, savior-type, young “teachers” pass through the hallways of her Compton school, only to abruptly leave after a pair of short and dramatic years.
We assured her that yes, some TFA teachers do, in fact, stay at their schools or in education for the long-haul (we were both living proof), yet that did nothing to alleviate the frustration on her end of members of the
cult organization that Carl and I have previously belonged to.
As she waited for her order to arrive, we eventually were able to have a pleasant conversation, about what elementary grades she likes teaching (3rd grade), what kids are like at that age (you can actually teach them content), and how good the barbeque was. Her order finally arrived, and she left, wishing us a great year, yet somehow seemingly, still doubtful of our intentions.
As Carl and I refocused our efforts on the mac & cheese now staring us in the face, we both reflected on the complexities of building trust in a school, and even in a city.
Do go out and explore new places of your city! Totally worth it!