I chucked a sickie the other day.

It was a Grammar Monday, so the kids would be working from their grammar books, which is easy for another teacher to set up. I had Things To Do that I’d been putting off, so it all seemed right. Plus the meeting that was scheduled to start at 7 PM that night might have had a little to do with it.

Every time I take a day off, the same thing astounds me.

The number of people.

People walking, people shopping, people sitting in cafés as if they have a perfect right to be there.

It’s insane. How can so many people not be working?!? Don’t they realise that everyone should be locked up in an office or a school somewhere, earning a living?

It’s funny how quickly your paradigms change. A couple of decades ago, I was one of these strange people who could roam at will during the daylight hours. I was at home with my four boys and I didn’t start working again until Evan5 was at school. It was perfectly normal to go to the supermarket in the middle of the morning, or visit a friend for coffee and a chat in the afternoon. We’d visit the park on sunny days with never a thought for people stuck inside, working.

Now, after 15 years of being in the classroom?

The paradigm has completely shifted the other way. Now it seems perfectly normal to be unavailable to the outside world from 8 – 4. The Real World is right where I am and any awareness of an alternate way of living is pretty slight.

Sometimes, when I’m teaching upstairs in ‘A’ Block, I’ll stand by the window and see someone casually walking down the street, seemingly without a care in the world. Or I’ll see one of the neighbours serenely working in their garden.

It gives a little jolt to my brain. It’s a reminder that life doesn’t always have to be like this. People can and do live their lives on different rhythms than the traditional 9 – 5 work day.

It’s a reminder that one day I’ll be one of those people.

Blogless Sandy, my best friend, has paved the way a bit for me with the whole retirement thing. She and her husband retired nearly two years ago and it’s interesting to hear about the patterns of their days. They’ve chosen to delay any travelling while they still have their old dog with them, so their days are very much ‘in place’ with nothing tying then down except the things they’ve chosen themselves to include.

I had no idea there was so much on offer for people to do when they “should” be at work. It’s almost outrageous! Blogless Sandy gallivants around doing bushwalking, yoga, picking up litter on their beach, walking dogs in shelters, while her husband has picked up some art classes. They have a couple of grandchildren and they look after them a couple of days a week while their daughter picks up teaching work.

They’re on the peninsula, so they regularly choose a winery and they go and enjoy a leisurely lunch. Because they are there in the middle of the week, they have conversations with staff who, on the weekends, either aren’t rostered on or who are too busy with the massive influx of Melbournians who make the drive down to enjoy their limited weekend fun time.

A few months ago they were lunching at Montalto, where the restaurant uses produce from a large kitchen garden.

After lunch, there was no pressing need to go home straight away. Their time is their own. They went for a walk around the kitchen garden and struck up a conversation with one of the gardeners. They were looking at all of the heirloom vegetables that were growing and talking of all things gardening. At the end of the day, they went home with some heirloom bean seeds from the garden that the gardener gave them. Without the leisurely time and space that they had, that encounter would never have happened.

I’m writing this on a Sunday. It’s nearly 9:45 AM. It’s a glorious sparkling summer’s day. In a second I’ll pop the dogs’ leads on and we’ll go for a gallop. This time tomorrow, I’ll be telling the kids to start putting their grammar books away because the bell is about to go. When it goes, all 28 kids and myself will leave the room and go on to our next class.

The weather will still be the same. The dogs and their leashes will still be here. But I’ll be 27kms away, writing a Dad joke* on the board and telling a new batch of 28 kids that it’s ‘Grammar Monday – open your books to the next unit.”


How strange to think that one day soon(ish), if I keep doing the things I’ve set in place, I’ll be able to do whatever I want on a Monday. How strange to think that I’ll be able to stride around in the daylight hours with confidence and surety, instead of scuttling to the doctors pretending to be sick, just to get a medical certificate for work. Stranger still to think that one day, it will all seem perfectly normal, and that my memories of the classroom will slowly fade.

The world outside work, in the daylight hours, is one that we workers tend not to think about a lot. But it’s there. It’s teeming with life, with sunlight and opportunities.

Every now and then, maybe it’s good to chuck a sickie just to be reminded.

*The Dad joke for tomorrow is: I’ve been reading a horror novel in braille. Something bad is going to happen – I can feel it!