Anyone who knows me knows… that I would never purposely set out to get a teacher high.
Seriously…. Not on a holiday.
Not on a weekend.
And definitely not on a school day.
I’m pretty unpredictable… but after a lifetime surrounded by addicts and recovering addicts… it would be the last thing I would ever do.
It was an accident.
It was many years ago, before my current job at MHS, and three of my best friends, let’s just call them Mr. D, Mr. C, and Ms. E were all struggling with anxiety.
There has been a long running joke in education that Xanax is “teacher’s candy” and during hard times, many of us have dabbled in anti-anxiety medication, doctor prescribed of course, to make it through a particularly trying school year.
Well, this year must have been a doozy because EVERYONE was packing.
I, being somewhat of a Xanax “light weight” had been prescribed the white pills: 0.25 mg. basically… the lowest possible dose.
“You can take up to three a day,” my doctor said. “For anxiety.”
“Three?” I looked at the bottle suspiciously.
“D.D.” he said. “This is a very low dose.”
Now, I’m not sure what a “low” dose is to him, but after I returned to the safety of my home, I tried one and not twenty minutes later, my husband found me on the front porch, basically having some weird alter-ego karaoke session with me, myself, a guitar, and a blasting rendition of “Brick House.”
I vowed that I would never take one of these pills during a school day EVER.
The thought of what I might do during class time, while hopped up on Xanax, was enough to cause my anxiety to rocket through the roof.
What if I stole the little security golf cart and raced it around the campus?
What if I ran up to the rally stage, grabbed the microphone from ASB, and screamed out the lyrics to GOD SAVE THE QUEEN while the cheerleaders looked on in horror and the quad broke into a riot?
What if I crank called the Principal with one of those really HOKEY Popsicle stick jokes: “Hey Principal Smith… where do baby cows eat?… In the CALVE-A-TERIA” and laughed hysterically until Nurse Anderson had to come and take me away.
I could just see Tim Grobaty’s article in The Press Telegram looming in front of me: BELOVED HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER FOUND DOPED UP AND DROOLING ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD: P.S. NO THIS IS NOT THE D.D. WOOD I KNOW AND LOVE. I HAVE NEVER ASSOCIATED WITH THIS WOMAN. LEAVE ME OUT OF THIS.
I shudder still at the thought of it.
So, I left my pills at home and learned to manage my school day without medication.
Six months later, Xanax at bedtime was a regular routine, I barely reacted to the dose, and my anxiety reduced significantly from several months of “good sleep.”
The school day suddenly seemed like a breeze to get through.
That was… until the phone call.
It was a Friday I believe when I received the call in my classroom from Ms. E.
“Room 525,” I said as I answered the school phone.
“D.D.” Ms. E said panic obvious in her voice. “You take Xanax right?” she asked.
I wasn’t sure if this was some type of trick question: Was this a PTA intervention? Had the militant helicopter parents found out I was a closet Xanax addict or was my friend really in need?
“Yeah,” I said as I tried not to sound hesitant.
“I need one,” she said, almost in tears now. “I can’t make it through the day. I feel like I’m going to have a panic attack. Please may I have one.”
“I don’t bring them to school,” I said. “I only take them at home.”
“Shit,” she barked in a harsh whisper. “Shit. Shit. Shit.”
I wasn’t sure how to respond at first but then the magic light switch flipped on in my brain.
“Mr. C packs,” I whispered. “Do you want me to ask him for one?”
“Yes,” she practically came through the phone her “yes” so emphatic.
“Hang on,” I said. “I have conference period in five minutes. I will grab one from Mr. C and bring it to you.”
“Okay,” she whispered before I heard her shout at her class, “Sit down! Sit down! You people have no understanding of what it means to be ME RIGHT NOW!”
Crap, I thought… I need a pill and fast.
The bell rang and I hustled the children out as quickly as possible before I bolted down to Mr. C’s room.
“Ms. E’s having a panic attack,” I blurted out. “She needs something.”
Mr. C, on conference period as well, gave me a knowing nod before he reached in his California Teacher’s Association satchel and pulled a small blue pill out of a plastic baggie.
“Can she handle a blue?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “I know she takes Xanax on a regular basis so I guess so.”
I didn’t know what a blue Xanax was and though I am a teacher, me… the MORON in this scenario, didn’t bother to ask.
I squirreled away the little blue pill in my hand and palmed it all the way out to the far bungalows that sat practically on the baseball field.
“Here,” I handed it to her. “She popped it in her mouth without a thought, took a giant swig of water off of her bottle, and smiled as it seemed the “magic little pill” was already working.
“Okay everyone,” she said sweetly to her group of students. “Let’s learn about the Donner Party and why you should never eat anyone’s ass.”
I caught myself making a face… maybe this hadn’t been such a good idea but hell, I wasn’t exactly the cornerstone of Conservative teaching… maybe this was a typical day in Ms. E’s room.
“Whatcha doing?” Mr. D said as he walked up behind me.
Mr. D and I had been program friends for several years and had spent many an after school session at our local Al-Anon meeting ranting about our addiction to addicts and our need for control.
“Nothing,” I said, unsure if I should tell Mr. D that I had given Ms. E someone else’s drugs, afraid to just come clean. I mean, he was on “the Xanax” like everyone else… but then… the moment passed and I let the thought go.
“Drive with me up to Starbuck’s?” He asked. “So I can get a coffee and have a smoke?”
“Sure,” I said and we both left campus to enjoy our conference period away from our busy school day.
We were gone I’d say 15 minutes; just long enough for Mr. D to get in a whole smoke while we sat waiting for coffee in the Starbuck’s drive-thru.
When we returned to our campus, we made a full circle of our school in the car, and then pulled up to park next to Ms. E’s bungalow.
We were shocked by our immediate view.
Ms. E was not in her classroom teaching.
Ms. E was hanging over the railing of the bungalow ramp, swinging her entire upper half of her body over the rail and trying to touch her toes with her pudgy little hands before she would rise up, throw her arms up into the air, and then swing them back down and try to touch her toes again.
“Wooooooo Eeeeeee!” She said each time she raised back up and saw me and Mr. D staring at her from the car. “HEY YOU TWO!” She shouted. “Wooooooooooo Eeeeeeeeee!”
Now, I am always the first to blame in these situations… known as the Punk Rock I Love Lucy… once told by a former boss that I ALWAYS LOOKED GUILTY OF SOMETHING and today was no exception.
Mr. D took one look at Ms. E, before turning to me and shouting, “WHAT THE HELL DID YOU GIVE HER?”
“Xanax,” I said trying not to sound like Curtis Mayfield’s Pusherman. “It was just Xanax.”
“What color was it?” He asked.
“YOU GAVE HER A BLUE?” He shouted. “A fucking blue? That’s like eight times the size of the dose that we take you idiot!”
I’d like to say that I was stunned at that moment. Even… apologetic for my actions… but really, I was watching Ms. E and wondering how the hell she was still standing after such a massive dose of Xanax and wondering how Mr. C was able to pop blues on a daily basis while making it through, what appeared to me, a “sober” school day.
Mr. D was out of the car in two seconds.
He ran across the field and gathered Ms. E up, as if she was a ball of limp bread dough, while I stood at the curb and watched him carry her past me and hurriedly put her in the car.
“Cover her class,” he shouted.
Ms. E was already enjoying making fish faces at me through the car window: cheeks puffed out, hands pressed against the door glass, drool running down into the door channel, until Mr. D slammed the car into gear, blasted away from the school and they disappeared from view.
“Jesus,” I whispered to myself as I locked the school gate and headed into her classroom to finish out the teaching day.
“Where’s Ms. E?” the students asked, each small group hard at work on their Donner Party Informational Chart: Why We Don’t Eat Asses.
“Ummmm,” I said, as I quickly walked around the room collecting the work, afraid that it might be used against us in a court of law, “She wasn’t feeling well so she went home for the day. Pass me your classwork. Ms. E told me to give everyone an “A” on this assignment and you get to have free time for the rest of the period.”
By their reactions you would have thought that I had declared school over for LIFE.
There were no complaints, no worries… cell phones popped out, ipods popped in, random conversations sparked up around the room.
Teachers crave Xanax…. and students “jones” for “free time”… for them… it’s the most addicting drug.
After a weekend of recovery for Ms. E, and an Al-Anon meeting where Mr. D “called me out” on my actions in front of my sponsor, we all returned to school and went back to business.
Nothing ever came from the incident, and blue Xanax was never again given… or asked for… at school.
Well… at least not between us teachers… I can’t speak for the administration.