The cool thing about a crappy office

I have yet to have a particularly good office in any place that I’ve worked as a teacher. This is part of the adjunct curse, I know — you get the least of the offices, the worst of the equipment, and the most office mates.

What’s cool about that, though, is that in an overstuffed office, people leave all kinds of fascinating stuff lying around. I’ve been introduced to several really charming essays (and found a flood of great teaching materials) through the incidental leavings of others.

Today I found a two-page story called “Sparrows in Purity Supreme” by Sybil Smith printed and ready for a classroom discussion. A nice excerpt:

Busy at the pears, I look up and see, not five feet away, a sparrow sitting on a price sign. Its bright eyes scan my face. What is a sparrow doing here? The incongruity thrills me…

Grinning like a fool, I point the birds out to all and sundry. Most nod their heads; they’ve seen them before.

“But how did they get here?” I ask.

They flew in when the building was under construction.

I ask the produce manager what the Health Department says about these birds, with their sharp beaks and dirty droppings. The manager admits he’s stymied. The birds are wise to traps, and birdshot is out of the question. The employees adore them and feed them leftover sandwich crusts and give them names. The store is a perfect habitat, free of predators and warm all year round. They eat the unpackaged bread and a berry here and there. And, in their favor, they do eat flies. There are at least ten birds now. How could he catch them all?

It’s not relevant to what I’m teaching right now at all, but I did enjoy it.  It starts in a very sad place and then, through these sparrows, moves into happiness.  Nice way to start the evening’s teaching, I think.

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