A Good School Administrator Can Smell Trouble.

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One of the worst things about being a school administrator is you become jaded.

After a few years (or hours) on the job you begin to get a sense of the people you are dealing with.

Your senses are heighted to the point you can easily recognize an upset person/fan/parent/employee/total stranger from at least 457 yards away.

My 457 yard figure isn’t a guesstimate.  It’s from a scientific study (Google it… actually, don’t).

It’s like playing Where’s Waldo.  Give a seasoned administrator a gym full of people and they can instantly spot the one person who is about to walk up and say…

“I don’t mean to complain, BUT…”

Just once, I want someone to walk up and say “I always complain and I always will.  So sit back and enjoy the colossal reaming you are about to receive!”

What a breath of fresh air that would be (call me a dreamer).

Since this is never going to happen, I want to focus on the downside of having the ability to recognize a complicated situation before it happens.

You (and by you, I mean me) get so used to having your guard up, you sometimes assume there’s trouble where there isn’t.Moist is Not Good.

And we all know what happens when you assume (if you don’t… Google it… really).

Not being able to properly diagnose a situation can make your life even more sad and tragic than it already is.

As I was researching this blog (not)  it made me think of the most horrific moment of my life.

No, not the day the Evil Spawn assumed control of the TV remote (although that’s definitely top 3).

The day in question was so terrible I encourage all of you to stop reading this blog immediately (yes, I know… there’s no way you can stop reading now, but you’ve been warned).

I found myself in the middle of a situation and I didn’t have the ability to pinpoint where my troubles were coming from.

This can be the death of a school administrator (not literally).

Lucky for me, fifteen years later I’m older and wiser.

Okay, just older.

Seriously, this is your last chance to bail out (save yourself, I’m begging you).

No?  So you are all in?  Alright, here we go.

Fifteen years ago, my child bride and I went to the movies.

From the moment we walked in I knew something was wrong.

What was it?

Did the movie stink?  Probably, but that wasn’t it.

Were there creepy teenagers making out in the balcony?  No.  There wasn’t a balcony.

Was the popcorn burnt and overpriced?  Negative.  It’ wasn’t burnt.

What was it?

There was a certain smell I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

A sort of stale moist haze lingered in the air.

It was almost pungent.

What was it?

I wasn’t sure, but I knew it was unpleasant.

Even back then I prided myself on the ability to diagnose a situation.

I can remember thinking I should be able to figure this out.

What is that smell?

I was a college graduate with nearly a year of teaching experience under my belt.  This shouldn’t have been a riddle wrapped in a mystery.

As the movie hit the halfway mark, I began to get frustrated.

What is that smell?  I couldn’t focus on anything but figuring out the strange odor.

Then it hit me.

My pants (or slacks for you older blog readers) were a little wet.

Actually, they were a lot wet.

Had I spilled my soda?  No, that wasn’t it.

What was it?

Had I had an “accident”.  No.  That will likely come in my later years.

Then I figured it out.

It was…

…still time to bail out people.

It was urine.

Yes, I said urine.

My own?


Unfortunately, I had not wet myself.  I have never in my life wished I had less bowel control than in that very moment.

It was urine alright.

The person who “used” my seat during the previous movie had been kind enough to leave me a little present.

They had used the movie seat as a giant urine sponge.

And I sat in it.

For over an hour.

There’s a lesson to be learned here for every man, woman, and child who is considering become a principal or superintendent.

One, always and I mean always make sure your tetanus shot is up to date.

And two, never ever assume where your problems are coming from.  They may not be 457 yards away.

They just might be right underneath you.

Sometimes you are better off focusing inward instead of outward.

Or at least underward.

Let it be known, you will never go to the movies without thinking about me…and checking the seat for unexpected moisture.

PS…I tried to warn you!

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10 Responses to “A Good School Administrator Can Smell Trouble.”

  1. Dave Meister
    on Oct 13th, 2010
    @ 8:01 pm

    Wow, half a movie. You are quick at diagnosing problems!

  2. Karen
    on Oct 14th, 2010
    @ 2:58 am


    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Karen, YCMTSU

  3. Melanie
    on Oct 14th, 2010
    @ 4:16 am

    You’re right. I will never go to the movies again without checking my seat and thinking of you. You have officially weaseled your way into my subconscious!

    You realize of course that we teachers have this ability as well. We just usually notice the problem and hope it is steering itself toward an administrator and not ourselves. :D

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Melanie, Then my work is almost done with you. :)

  4. Jackie
    on Oct 14th, 2010
    @ 7:48 am

    Great job. Now I’m not just a loyal reader, I’m also disturbed.

  5. Sheryl Lawless
    on Oct 14th, 2010
    @ 6:25 pm

    And what did Shannon have to say when the origin of the problem was discovered?

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Sheryl Lawless, Eeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!

  6. Andrew Pass
    on Oct 17th, 2010
    @ 6:47 pm


    You are right. I will never again sit down at a movie theater without “testing” the seat. I should have followed your advice in this blog before I got to the end.

  7. Tim
    on Oct 22nd, 2010
    @ 2:43 pm

    Coca-cola came out my nose (it hurts) upon reading the punchline… All of a sudden Netflix ($10/month) and an Apple TV ($99) seem like a good alternative to the movies.

    I mean, really, if you think about it there could have been anything on that seat (leaving out the list of possible bodily fluids) or (leaving out list of creepy crawly pests) or (Don’t have time to list all the other sticky, slimy, icky things that could have been there).

    Considering $30/movie outing average cost I’d be saving money within 4 movies and there would be no fear of contracting any weird diseases, pest infestations, or being soaked in someone else’s goo…

    You have my thanks!

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